On Oct. 26, the Wellesley College Book Club hosted author Maggie Stiefvater for a Q&A session about “The Raven Cycle” and “The Dreamer Trilogy,” including the final installment in the series “Greywaren.” The series is split into two parts, “The Raven Cycle” follows a group of teenagers, Blue Sargent, Richard Campbell “Gansey” III, Adam Parrish, Ronan Lynch and Noah Czerny, as they search for Glendower, a Welsh King, in rural Virginia. The second part, “The Dreamer Trilogy,” focuses on Ronan Lynch, who has the ability to pull things from his dreams, and his brothers as they struggle with their family’s past and its effects on the present. The first installment was published in 2012 and so 2022 marks both the 10th anniversary as well as the end of the series. As one might imagine, it was a bittersweet tour with a much devoted crowd hanging on to every word that Stiefvater wrote.
Much of the discussion focused on the craft of storytelling, both with specifics directed at choices Siefvater made as well as advice for aspiring writers. She was asked about how much research went into her writing, and recommended that whatever it is someone wants to write about it is helpful to already have some prior knowledge of the subject. With “The Raven Cycle,” there was a lot drawn from her college studies like Welsh history to speaking and writing Latin, as well as her own personal interests like cars. She encouraged declaring the very thing one wanted to foreshadow, with a nod to Noah’s story. Finally, she encouraged writers to really delve into the writing process and create a good story, because as much as she loves characters they alone cannot make up for the lack of a plot.
Interspersed throughout were anecdotes that spurred bursts of laughter. When talking about her interest in cars and her 1973 Camaro that inspired Gansey’s car “the pig,” she reminisced on the time a friend of hers read some steamy fanfiction of Ronan and Gansey that made it so she “couldn’t look at the gear shift the same way.” Later on as she discussed incorporating Latin into the story and how Ronan uses it, she talked about the jokes she wrote on the board in her Latin class in college. After the last final exam her ancient chainsmoking Latin professor startled Stiefavter by grabbing her and saying she was aware that Stiefavter had been writing the jokes because “no one else in this damn class speaks Latin.” Listening to her anecdotes that inspired the series and those that occured over the course of its publication explained why she called it “self-indulgent.”
That isn’t to say that the series was easy to write. In 2014 Stiefvater began to experience symptoms for what would be diagnosed in 2019 as Addison’s Disease. This impacted not only writing and touring but her everyday functioning. Additionally, she was receiving a lot of negative fan feedback about the series and she found it painful to write the story she wanted to write alongside it. She refused to say she’d never return to the world of “The Raven Cycle”/”The Dreamer Trilogy,” but for the time being feels that she has nothing else to add onto it and wants to focus on writing standalone books. Leaving readers possibly disappointed, but satisfied that the series was ending with intention from the author.