Wednesday, October 18, 2017

YA Guy Interviews... Lisa Maxwell, author of THE LAST MAGICIAN! (Plus a giveaway!)

YA Guy's had the good fortune to share a stage with several bestselling YA authors: James Dashner, Kristin Cashore, and others. (Well, okay, maybe I didn't quite share the stage with them; they were the headliners and I was just one of many fellow panelists.) But I've never had the chance to hang out with a bestseller who also happens to be a friend.

Until now, that is. Because the ultra-fabulous Lisa Maxwell, bestselling author of THE LAST MAGICIAN and other magical, marvelous YA tales, is my buddy from way back when we debuted in Fall 2014. And recently, I had a chance to chat with her about her book.

But why stop with a chat? I'm also raffling off a signed copy of THE LAST MAGICIAN, which is simply one of the best YA historical fantasies out there. Don't believe me? Here's my review.

So, let's hear from Lisa first, and then you can enter the giveaway via the Rafflecopter thingie below.

YA Guy: Hi, Lisa, and welcome to the blog!

THE LAST MAGICIAN is a bigger book than any of your previous books, not only in terms of sheer length but in the complexity of the plot, the multiple points of view, the historical background, and so on. Do you think this reflects your maturation as a writer? Or was this book something you'd been saving up all along?

Lisa Maxwell: I think it definitely reflects the experiences of writing my first three books. I have one book that’s shelved where I tried to do a multiple perspective, interwoven story, and I think that mistakes I made trying to write that one very much helped me figure out how to write this one. That being said, I didn’t originally start out to write this book as complexly as it turned out. At first, I thought I was just writing a dual POV with Harte and Esta, but the other characters and their stories and arcs were too complex and essential to the main story to leave out.

YAG: I love the historical richness of THE LAST MAGICIAN, and I know that some of the minor characters (e.g., J. P. Morgan) were actual historical figures. But what about the principal characters? Were any of them either real people or based on real people?

LM: Actually, kind of? I took some of my inspiration for Harte’s background from a book called A Pickpocket’s Tale. It was written by a guy named George Washington Appo, who was a pickpocket and common green games runner in the city, who was also literate enough to write his autobiography. Harte isn’t him, of course, but some of his background was an inspiration for Harte’s backstory. Dolph Saunders was a real guy, but I mostly just stole the name since I really loved the way it sounded. Dolph is a compilation of a couple different historical gang leaders. As for Esta and the rest—they’re all mine.

YAG: I also love time-travel narratives, but I know they can be tricky to write. Did you encounter any specific challenges or plot problems with this aspect of the novel? If so, how did you resolve them?

LM: Everything was a problem. Time travel is so much harder to write than I thought it was when I came up with the idea of making Esta a time traveler. Originally, I hadn’t planned on my thief to be a time traveler, but once I settled on the setting, I realized there was probably no way, historically speaking, that Esta could be the person I imagined with the sensibilities I wanted her to have if she were born and raised in the late 19th century. 

The biggest challenges, though, were rules I imposed on myself. I needed her to have limitations to how and when she could travel, or else she could just magically time travel back to the beginning of the Order and solve everything before it starts. But those limitations meant that I had to make sure there weren’t any inconsistencies in the rest of the book. Don’t even get me started on multiple timelines and time travel paradoxes. The whole thing makes my head hurt, and I’m nowhere close to done thinking about it yet.

Though, I will say that I have solved one paradox/multiple timeline issue AND managed to create a twist that I’m really, really happy about for the next book.

YAG: I can't wait to read it! Thanks again for visiting the blog!

LM: Thanks so much for having me!

Readers, if you want to find Lisa on the web, visit her at And for a chance to win a signed copy of THE LAST MAGICIAN, enter below. The contest is U.S. only, and it runs from now through Halloween (fitting for a book about magic)!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

1 comment:

  1. I love time travel stories, and my head would spin trying to figure out rules that are believable. I'm excited to read this book and learn for myself how you did it. Plus a twist is awesome (both in books and in soft serve cones). Thanks for the chance to win a signed book to treasure!