The Writer’s Hot Seat: Maggie Thrash

22 March 2019 on Blog  

Maggie Thrash is the author and graphic artist of the memoirs Honor Girl (Candlewick 2015), a nominee for the Los Angeles Times Book Prizeand Lost Soul Be at Peace (Candlewick 2019). “Thrash has proven herself a capable memoirist able to pinpoint her own pivotal life moments, turn them into art, and take risks with conventions,” wrote Kirkus Reviews (2019). Her fiction books, Strange Truth and Strange Lies, were inspired by her experiences at an exclusive prep school in Atlanta where everyone had secrets. She grew up in the South, currently lives in Delaware, and she used a single paintbrush to create all 400+ pages of both books! Thrash also just finished writing a book set in New Hampshire tentatively titled Black Rainbow.

After being floored by Honor Girl over winter break, one of Barnstorm’s nonfiction readers, Bethany Clarke, got in touch with Thrash to ask her a few questions about her writing and art.

Barnstorm: What inspires you lately? 

Thrash: Animals. I’m obsessed with cats and dogs, and how animals and humans interact. I think humans are just animals with the ability to lie to ourselves.

Barnstorm: Do you have any writing rituals that you follow? Where and when do you write and draw?

Thrash: I try to sleep a lot. I’m useless if I haven’t had a good night’s sleep. I’ll sleep till about 11:30am most days, and then immediately start writing. I make a pot of green tea and write for as long as I can. I keep my days wide open so I know I’ll have the time to write if I feel inspired. And if I don’t feel inspired, I go outside play Pokémon Go for hours. I try not to beat myself up for wasting time. It’s part of the process.

Barnstorm: Do you write and draw at the same time or does one come before the other when you're crafting a story?

Thrash: The same time. It’s exhausting. Every page is like putting together a puzzle. But it’s so satisfying when all the pieces come together! 

Barnstorm: Do you have any advice for other young storytellers who haven't published yet? 

Thrash: Give yourself permission to write a few very bad books. Writing isn’t magic. It’s just like any other skill – it takes practice.

Barnstorm: If you wrote fiction, what would it be about?

Thrash: I do write fiction, actually! I have two mystery novels called Strange Truth and Strange Lies. They’re very inspired by Gossip Girl. I love juicy mysteries and over-the-top characters and teen melodrama.

Barnstorm: Why do you write memoir, and why do you often focus on your teen years?

Thrash: The teen years are fascinating to me. It’s the time when you start to experience your own emotional depth. Your parents, and sometimes even your friends, want you to keep being a simple kid, but that’s just not possible anymore. I think a lot of people eventually figure out how to suppress all those emotions in order to become a functioning adult. I never really learned how to do that.

Barnstorm: What was your creative upbringing? 

Thrash: My mom made me do all this stuff I hated – tennis lessons, singing lessons, piano lessons, etc. I really just wanted to do my own thing – read The Babysitter’s Club, ride my bike, basically just live life. I’ve always hated being busy. I think a lot of people associate being busy with being important? Like, I’m so busy, I have so much stuff going on, blah blah blah! But like, how much of that stuff is totally trivial? Anyway, I’m not sure if that answers your question. I didn’t have a super creative upbringing. My parents were pretty normal and I lived in the suburbs. Art and imagination became really important to me because my life was so boring.

Barnstorm: Where do you currently call home?

I currently live in Delaware! It’s a pretty random state. I don’t know where my life will take me. All I know is that I have zero interest in living in New York City. I love New Hampshire and would love to live there one day. I even just finished writing a book that’s set in New Hampshire!    

More information about Thrash and her work can be found on her website.

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