The popular novel series Beautiful Creatures is a international bestseller with a worldwide fanbase. The latest installment Dangerous Deception promises to be a story that readers will love.
Margaret Stohl grew up in Los Angeles but spent many summers in Southern Utah where her grandmother lived. “When I’m writing about Gatlin in the Beautiful Creatures novels, I’m usually writing about her house, her neighbors and her town, and [co-author] Kami Garcia is writing about her relatives in a small town in North Carolina. It all meshes together in what we call the ‘Great Casserole Belt’.”
Stohl still lives in Los Angeles but said that she loves to travel.
Beautiful Creatures has been translated into 50 languages, and has given Stohl and Garcia the opportunity to travel the world and meet readers. “It has been such a wild ride, and I’ve been so grateful to be a part of it.”
As a shy young girl Stohl said she used to hide in her closet reading Chronicles of Narnia books, and always found herself reading fantasy novels every chance she got. “I read at the piano, at church, in bed. Always fantasy — I had a difficult time with my own life, so to me fantasy was hope.”
The love of reading fantasy books started a chain of events, in which Stohl discovered her passion for writing and telling stories.
“I started a Dark is Rising fan club in third grade, and we recited the poem from the front of the books under the stairs at lunch. I began writing stories then, and never looked back. In high school, I worked on the newspaper, and at Amherst College I wrote and directed a one-act play and founded the first women’s literary magazine. So I guess you could say I’ve been in love with stories my whole life, and in one way or another writing them for just as long,” Stohl said.
Stohl also wrote a number of screenplays in and out of grad school, with her friend middle grade author Pseudonymous Bosch.
Before becoming a novelist, Stohl got involved in the video game industry where she worked as a writer, lead designer, and creative director.
“I worked for big publishers and founded our own independent game development studio, 7 Studios, with my husband, Lewis Peterson. I worked on Spycraft, Zork Nemesis, Zork Grand Inquisitor and Spiderman at Activision; Slave Zero at Accolade, Red Alert Retaliation, Red Alert: Tiberian Sun, Earth and Beyond, and Dune 2000 at Westwood Studios; Mummy Returns at Universal, Need for Speed at EA Games; Legion: Legend of Excalibur, Defender, Fantastic Four, Pirates of the Caribbean: the Legend of Jack Sparrow, and the Sopranos at 7 Studios.”
Stohl then proceeded to share what her experience in the video game industry has taught her.
“I learned how to build universes and how to work within universes, how to invent characters and how to transform them, how to be a part of a team and still get my own work done. I’m working with Marvel and Disney again on Black Widow: Forever Red, which is out in October so in many ways my life has come full circle.”
Stohl said that while she was working with storytelling one way or another, it was never in a book format. That all changed when her oldest daughter had challenged her and Garcia to write a book.
“I was determined to prove I could do it! We wrote Beautiful Creatures in 12 weeks, and after Pseudonymous gave it to his agent, things took off. We didn’t even have a plan to publish it, we only wanted to show my daughter that we could do it. I think sometimes a labor of love or I guess in our case, a vendetta produces great things.”
Since then Beautiful Creatures has become a huge success, and Stohl explains that the story of Beautiful Creatures was born from the love that Stohl and Garcia have for young adult and classic fantasy novels.
“Kami and I both loved and read both classic fantasy and YA. We traded books back and forth, and then went to lunch and talked about them. We hated certain things about some of the books, as did my daughters, who were also Kami’s students. They wanted fantasy and romance, but something different than vampires. They wanted the girl to be powerful and to do things instead of just falling in love. Kami had been writing short stories about the south, and I had been working on a fantasy novel. We both had small town backgrounds, with massive extended families. And we wanted to write a book for the smart, powerful girls in our lives. So we did.”
Many popular novels have been turned into films for people to enjoy. Beautiful Creatures was turned into a motion picture, which was theatrically released on February 14, 2013. Stohl expressed how she felt when the series got turned into a film.
“Honestly, we never believed it would happen. Growing up in LA, I had been surrounded by screenwriters who worked their entire lives and never had anything actually made. When the movie really did happen, I think the main feeling was shock. And then just gratitude, that the film brought our book to so many new readers around the world. At one point, four out of the top ten books on the USA Today list were Beautiful Creatures Novels. And that was because when people discovered the movie, they just kept reading – which is the loveliest compliment we could have ever gotten. So for us, it was a big win in so many ways.”
Of course, success doesn’t come without its own challenges and Stohl and Garcia had one major challenge to overcome as they put the story down on paper.
“Originally, the main challenge was just being brave enough to do it. We didn’t know exactly how someone wrote a whole book, so we just concentrated on writing the story we wanted to write. After that, the challenges were more about navigating the big world of publishing when you were both a debut and a bestseller at the same time. We had no idea what we were doing, most of the time, and that could get pretty overwhelming. But at least we had each other. I don’t know how we would have gotten through all those events alone.”
Stohl then shared what readers can expect from the latest installment Dangerous Deception. “They can expect more of everything they’ve come to love over the past seven years. More Lena and Ethan, Link and Ridley, John and Liv. More humor and more chaos and more terror. We hope and think they’ll love it.”
Stohl has a special message for all the fans of Beautiful Creatures. “Our Caster fandom is the best of the best. We love them all, around the world, and we always will. Claim Yourselves! Stay beautiful, and we love you.”
Dangerous Deception is on sale now.