1) Ethan & Lena - who do you identify with more? Why?
Margie: I identify more with Ethan. He’s a pleaser, he wants to keep his friends and do the right thing by everyone. But inside, he knows he’s different, he knows he needs to step out of himself and not be afraid to be the person he really is, even if that means rocking the boat. I always felt like that growing up.
Kami: I identify with Ethan because he’s so protective of the people he loves, and he’s willing to stand up for them no matter the cost. But I identify with Lena because she feels different, and she has to act strong even when she is really hurt. I felt that way in high school. I wrote tons of poetry in my journals, so I could express all the things I could never say out loud.
2) Who is your favorite character? Why?
Margie: Macon. I love the way he loves Lena, the way he hates Gatlin but is willing to endure it for her. I love the way Macon dresses & talks, his style, his charm.
Kami: Amma. She fights for Ethan, in this world and the other. I love the way she knows everything, but she never totally lets on. And she’s so incredibly smart!
3) What is the process behind naming the characters?
Margie: It’s sort of a giant mix of family trees, names of relatives, names we liked, Southern names, French Creole names. Amma’s name was always Amma, and Ethan and Lena were always Ethan and Lena. Macon, too. The others just kind of fell into place.
Kami: Lena, Genevieve, Delphine, Sarafine, and most of the names of the women in Lena’s family, are French Creole. Macon is a common Southern name, as well as the name of a city in Georgia. Most of the names also have meaning, which is important to us when naming characters.
4) Are any of your characteristics the same as any of the characters’?
Margie: I’m a reader like Ethan and a writer like Lena. I love to collect the odd bit of knowledge like Macon and Marian. I want to fit in like Ethan, but I want to be myself like Lena.
Kami: I’ve always been a reader like Ethan and Lena, and I’ve written poetry all my life like Lena. But I think I share more characteristics with Amma than anyone else; I’m hot-tempered, I bake from scratch, and I’m incredibly superstitious.
5) Family is a very important aspect of the book. Why so? Also the magic/supernatural element makes it special.
Margie: Family is so important in a small town, and in our own lives. We both grew up with three generations under one roof, and two of those generations had grown up in a tiny town. So becoming your own person under the shadow of your own family is something we’ve both gone through. The magic aspect works because it takes the idea of developing your own power as a person and literalizes it, I think.
Kami: My family is full of strong women, particularly my mom, my grandmother, my great-grandmother. They had a huge impact on me growing up, and made me the person I am today. My grandmother and great-grandmother were both from North Carolina, and they were full of stories. Those stories inspired me to write stories of my own.
6) Why did you choose the Southern setting?
Margie: The South is the most magical place in the U.S. Or so we think!
Kami: Margie and I believe that the South is a place where people still believe magic and the supernatural. The South is also a place with such a unique culture and history. And, of course, there arethe graveyards… and the food.
7) Favorite line from the book? Or a specific scene/paragraph?
Margie: That’s hard. I love the prologue, I think. I love almost everything that comes out of Amma’s mouth. But here’s my favorite line from the sequel: “Don’t you dare bring the truth inta this house!”
Kami: I have two: “The right thing and the easy thing are never the same.” And “One day you’re gonna pick a hole in the sky and the universe is gonna fall right through.”
8) How many books have you planned in the series?
Margie: We sketched out six, but we’ll only keep telling the Caster Chronicles as long as the readers want them.
Kami: It’s a huge universe, and an epic story. We’ll keep writing about the folks in Gatlin as long as you want to read them.
9) Do you guys ever squabble? Creative differences and all that?
Margie: Of course! We fight like sisters, but only about stupid things. About the book, we have almost an eerie clarity. I can’t think of a single argument about the story, actually. Not one.
Kami: We fight about things like: there’s no ice at Margie’s house or it’s freezing or one of us has the draft and the other is waiting for it. But when it comes to the story, we really don’t have any ego, and we both have the power of veto. But more than that, we trust each other. Margie is such an amazing writer – if she tells me she thinks we need to re-write something (or more often, tear the draft apart), we do.
10) Personal influences- authors, artists, anyone - on BOTH of you.
Margie: For me, classic Southern writers – Eudora Welty, Harper Lee – and classic fantasy writers – C.S. Lewis, Susan Cooper, Diana Wynne Jones, Robin McKinley. And then my own experiences, and my family.
Kami: Southern writers, of course – Flannery O’Connor, Harper Lee, Pat Conroy, Alice Walker. Fantasy & sci-fi writers – Ray Bradbury, C.S Lewis, Phillip Pullman. As a painter, I was enormously influenced by art – Raushenberg, Pollock, Motherwell, Roberto Clemente – and more recently Kara Walker, whose art is a social commentary on the history of the American South. I saw an exhibition at the Hammer, in LA, and it literally took my breath away. The person I am, and the stories I tell, come from my family.
11) Who came up with the idea for the book? How? When? Why?
Margie: There’s nothing about this book that didn’t come out of a conversation we had together. We came up with the whole story over a long lunch at one of our favorite restaurants. A million Diet Cokes and two enormous whiteboards later, here we are!
Kami: We really put our chocolate and peanut butter together.
You can keep up with Kami Garcia & Margaret Stohl at www.BeautifulCreaturestheBook.