New York Times and USA Today best-selling author Sarah Maas ’08 offered inspiring advice for budding writers and shared nostalgic memories about her time on the Hill during her visit on April 7 and 8. She gave a talk and book signing and met community members over a lunch and tea and also visited the Kirkland Library where she met students from Clinton Central School.
I think a lot of young writers assume they need to read books about how to write and take classes to learn how to write, but read the books that make you come alive and make you want to reread it again and again.
Maas is popularly known as the author of the award-winning, young adult fantasy series Throne of Glass. With a love for reading and writing fantasy fiction as a child, she wrote the first book of the series at age 16 and developed a large audience after positing it on an online fiction archive.
“I learned about writing in part by reading the books I was interested in and reading the books that sang to me as a person,” Maas explained in response to a student’s question on learning about novel-writing. “I think a lot of young writers assume they need to read books about how to write and take classes to learn how to write, but read the books that make you come alive and make you want to reread it again and again.”
However, Maas also credits her interactions with former literature professor Janelle Schwartz ’97 with moving forward publishing her work.
“I had plenty of people in my everyday life—friends, teachers, family members—who told me that writing was not a feasible career, that what I was writing wasn’t good enough and that fantasy books weren’t good enough,” Maas commented. Yet, the support she found from Schwartz, who offered to read Maas’ material every week and helped her research the publishing process, truly impacted her journey to actually creating her first novel.
Throne of Glass is now being sold in 36 countries. There will be a TV series adaptation called Queen of Shadows developed by Hulu, with a fantasy adventure storyline based on the books.
After sharing her knowledge about the logistics of the publishing process, Maas also encouraged students to step away from their notebooks or laptops first, take advantage of their time at Hamilton and take in all of the experiences that the college has to offer.
“Everything that you do in your daily life—everything you see, the people you meet, the music you hear, the art you see—all of that plays a role in your writing too,” Maas reminded aspiring authors. “So don’t just read about how to write but keep your eyes open and your heart open.”