Ask the Author: Maxine Kaplan
What would you like readers to know about you?
I’m really interested in genre conventions, and more specifically, in interrogating and / or breaking them–which means I tend to write a lot of different kinds of stories. But if going behind the scenes of tropes and dismantling them in a humanist way is your jam, then I’m your girl.
What is your book about for those who haven’t read it?
My newest book, WENCH, is a YA fantasy adventure that follows a tavern wench who, after losing the rights to her inn due to bureaucratic error, goes on a quest to get it back. Along the way she becomes the accidental wielder of a powerful–and unreliable–magical object that everyone in the kingdom, from the street thieves all the way up to the Queen, would do anything to get their hands on.
What has been your inspiration for writing it?
My inspiration for WENCH was the stock character of the tavern wench herself. I love fantasy and I’ve read a lot of it–when I was a kid, I especially read a lot of traditional “sword and sorcery”-type fantasy, and I was always fascinated by how the tavern wench was always described exactly the same way, but never given her own agency, interests, or storyline. I wanted to take the humanity of the archetype seriously and give her her own adventure. It’s also not a little bit inspired by the Dungeons & Dragons games of my youth.
What was your favorite scene or part of your book to write?
I loved coming up with all of the locations in my fantasy kingdom of Lode and really digging into the unglamorous details–laundry, cooking, directions–that often go overlooked. The Glacier and Bloodstone are two of my favorites.
What books or authors inspired you to become a writer?
This is almost impossible to answer. But around the time where I started saying I wanted to be a writer, A Wrinkle in Time, The Ordinary Princess, Sheila the Great, and The Babysitters Club ruled my world, so some credit definitely has to go to them.
What advice would you give to aspiring authors who want to write a book?
Choose an idea and write it. Don’t try to go too fast or make it perfect as you draft, because there is nothing that delays a writing dream like setting and then failing at unrealistic goals. Take an idea you’re passionate about and put 500 words a day on paper. Eventually, you will have a book and you can go from there.
Buy links for my books are pretty well-consolidated at https://www.abramsbooks.com/product/wench_9781419738517/ and https://www.abramsbooks.com/product/accidental-bad-girl_9781419728587/.
Maxine Kaplan was born in Washington, DC. She and her twin sister spent their early childhoods trotting behind their journalist parents as they traveled around the world, eventually settling in Brooklyn, NY. Maxine graduated from Oberlin College in 2007. Following a long stint in the world of publishing, she has worked as a private investigator since 2009. She lives in her adopted hometown of Brooklyn, NY, with her dimwitted, but soulful cat. Her books are Wench and The Accidental Bad Girl, which received a starred review in Publishers Weekly and is available in paperback. Follow Maxine on Twitter and Instagram at @MaxineGKaplan.