Maggie Hall: THE ELITE (working title)

Today here at OneFour KidLit, we’re talking to Maggie Hall, author of THE ELITE (working title), coming from Penguin/Putnam in 2014. One author, four questions. Here we go!

What’s your debut book about? Can you share any cool details with us?

The short answer:

THE ELITE (working title) is about a teenage girl who, to fight her destiny as the heir to a powerful and dangerous secret society, must solve a trail of clues in a deadly race across Europe. Someone once told me it sounded like what would happen if the CW did a DaVinci Code-esque thriller, and I think that’s a pretty good comparison.

 The longer answer:Eiffel-Tower-Night-Lights_Paris_PublicDomain

Sixteen-year-old Avery West’s newfound family can shut down Prada at the Champs-Elysees when they want to shop in peace, and can just as easily order a bombing when they want to start a war. They are part of a powerful and dangerous secret society called the Elite, and they think Avery is the key to an ancient prophecy. Now some of the Elite want to use her as a pawn. Some want her dead.

To unravel the mystery putting her and her loved ones in danger, Avery must follow a trail of clues from the crypts of Paris to the back alleys of Istanbul and through a web of ancient legends and lies. And even more complicated are the two boys she’s with—beautiful, volatile Stellan and mysterious, magnetic Jack—who might be part of the solution, or who might be her undoing, because the conspiracy goes deeper than anyone could have guessed.

And some cool things?

Sure! The book has kissing and code-breaking and explosions, forbidden love and masked balls and car chases, destiny and dark secrets—but it’s also about the people you care for and family and freedom, and trusting anyone after you’ve discovered your whole life is a lie.

If you happened to feel like it, you could add it on Goodreads here. (/shameless promotion)

So, you’re getting published! How’d that happen? (aka, what was your path to publication?)

It happened both interminably slowly and kind of quickly, all at once.

Unlike a lot of writers, I haven’t known I wanted to be an author my whole life. I didn’t spend my childhood scribbling stories, and I don’t have ten novels under my belt. In fact, until the past couple years, I had never thought of writing books as a thing normal people did. (Okay, I guess normal is relative. 🙂 But you know what I mean.) A few years ago, I worked at a bookstore  as an events and marketing coordinator, and even then, when a huge part of my job was working with authors, I never considered writing as a career path. (Though I suppose that made sense. I’m actually surprised that seeing the bookstore side of the industry—and realizing how incredibly difficult it is for a book to succeed—didn’t scare me off writing forever.)

SmallMapPublicDomainBut I digress. A couple years ago, I heard about this thing called National Novel Writing Month, and thought…what? People—just normal people like me—write novels? COOL. And so I thought of an idea, messed around with it a little, and even wrote a couple chapters—and then abandoned it. It was boring, and (let’s be honest) not very good. But by then, I had the bug. And I thought of another idea, one I was excited about. Still, at this point, I wasn’t thinking of writing for publication at all. I was just messing around, just for fun. Until I started noticing book deals in the Publishers Weekly emails I still got from when I worked at the bookstore. Suddenly, the seed was planted.

Could I do that? Could I write a book?

And so I got serious. I rethought the idea, finally finished a first draft, revised (and revised, and revised, and clawed my eyes out, and revised some more), and finally queried it. Pretty soon I had my agent—Claudia Ballard, at William Morris Endeavor. And we revised more. And more. And then even more, until I wanted to throw my computer out the window or maybe move to Tibet and forget the book existed.

But then, finally, it was time to sub. And six days later, I had my first offer, and about a week after that, I was a Penguin author!

In short, it happened very quickly in some ways (yes, this is my first book, and the actual querying and being on sub went pretty quickly), and very slowly in others (did you see all those huge chunks of revision and eye-clawing?). Which, I’m finding now, is kind of representative of publishing in general.

What are you most excited about in the debut process?

So many things! Seeing the cover, seeing the book in a bookstore for the first time (to be honest, I don’t think it will quite feel real until then), hearing that people have read it…

And maybe this is weird, but one of the things I’m most excited about is the possibility of fan art. I can spend hours drooling over amazing fan art for various fandoms on tumblr, and when a couple of my amazing CPs did some artwork featuring my characters, I pretty much died it was so cool. I can only hope that some readers I don’t know will like the book enough to want to do that. How awesome would that be?

What cool facts might readers not know about you?

  • I’ve done quite a bit of traveling, including about six months of traveling around the world all by myself, which was both awesome and super lonely.
  • My husband is also an adventurer (that’s a nice way to say we refuse to become Real Adults) and though we’re both from Albuquerque, NM, we’ve done quite a few travel stints and a couple instances of living in other places. Right now, we’re in New Orleans, and next we’re hoping (fingers crossed!) we might go to Thailand! (Or NYC. Or Greece. Well, we’ll go somewhere.)
  • I went to USC, and am a HUGE Trojan football fan. (Yes, even this year, when we self-destructed horribly.) (Yes, I can talk about college football all day.)ThreeCats
  • I have three really cute cats named Whiskey, Bourbon, and Scotch.
  • My big love besides writing is decorating/interior design stuff, and one of my favorite things to do is to scour thrift stores for furniture gems, and give them new life. I’ve even built a few of our furniture pieces from scratch!
  • Even though I wasn’t a lifetime writer, I am definitely a lifetime reader. I was one of those kids whose mom had to force her to get her nose out of a book and go outside—and then I’d just sneak the book out with me and hide and keep reading! And now…well, that’s pretty much still true. *sneaks a glance at the book in her lap at this very second*
Maggie Hall is a former bookstore events coordinator and world traveler who has petted tigers in Thailand, taken thousands of miles of trains across India, and recently relocated from Albuquerque to New Orleans with her husband and three cats. The first book in her YA international thriller trilogy, working title THE ELITE (Penguin/Putnam, 2014), is about a girl who discovers she’s the heir to a powerful and dangerous secret society.

16 thoughts on “Maggie Hall: THE ELITE (working title)

  1. Yay, Maggie! I loved the DaVinci Code, so as soon as I heard yours was that crossed with the CW: YES. MUST READ NOW!
    I also got a later-in-life start to writing (well, relatively) but have been an obsessive reader my whole life. It’s so interesting to see how we call came to be OneFour debuts!

  2. There’s an old song about one bourbon, one scotch, and one beer, or something like that. Your cats made me think of it.

    Your book sounds so exciting. I love a fast paced thriller!

  3. 1) A secret society thriller set across Europe and the Middle East? Oh my lord, must read now!
    2) Whiskey, Bourbon, and Scotch are the best cat names ever. (Also, so cute!!!)

  4. I was going to post an intelligent response, but kitty kitty kitty kitty kitties!

    Also, go NaNoWriMo! I’m one of those “wanted to be a writer all her life” people, but NaNo was what really pushed me into learning how to finish novels.

  5. What an inspiring story! I too started late in writing. In fact, I am stepping out into the writers world for the first time and let me tell you it is intimidating! I too worked at a bookstore helping author events. I saw how hard the worked to get their book out there. It made me hesitate. But your story gives me hope. I just love picking up a book and thinking the author worked hard for his or her dream and it became a reality. I cant wait to read your book. Thank you for sharing!

  6. This book is SO GOOD I CAN’T EVEN. I’m so excited for the rest of the trilogy!!! And ZOMG I love those cats’ names so much. I don’t even like cats but if you move to NYC I will cat-sit EVERY DAY. And feed you kosher Mexican food, of course.

  7. This book sounds sooooo amaaaaziiiiiing ahhhhhhhhhhhhhh!!! And we didn’t get a chance to talk about all of your travel adventures when you were in NYC! I’d love to hear your stories. My husband and I also ran around the world for awhile. And pssht, Real Adulthood. Who needs it. 🙂

  8. I’m so excited to read your book! It also took a while for me to realize I wanted to be an author, though I’ve always enjoyed writing (growing up, it was bad short stories and journals) and reading.

    I also love interior design stuff. I can’t wait for my husband and I to buy a house, but in the meantime, I love decorating our apartment. So cool that you built your own furniture!

    LOVE your cats’ names. 🙂

  9. Okay, so I JUST figured out how to comment! Yay WordPress! Yay competence!

    Maggie, your book sounds AMAZING, and I can’t wait to get my hands on it!!! I must say, those kittens are adorable. FUZZY CUTE SQUEE!

  10. GAH! I cannot WAIT to read this – sounds absolutely AMAZING!

    Also your cats are so adorable! Love the names! 😀

  11. I LOVE this book so so much! And the cats’ names! And the traveling! Now come back to Europe already, mmkay? 😉

  12. I am so proud that I was ur penpal growing up 🙂 I’m so excited about ur book, I will be reading it & buying it asap…I also am just so excited for u in general…this is kinda like a Cinderella-Of-Books story! 🙂

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