We were standing on the corner of Grant and 23rd when this guy came sidling up to us. He had on a long skeezy coat and was talking out of the corner of his mouth in that mumble where you can’t tell if he wants to beg a ride or a dollar or sell you drugs or what. His had a lumpy scarf wrapped around most of his face and under it, he could have been twenty-eight or thirty-five or sixty.

My brother Jack said, “Is it sold out?” and after he said that, I could kind of backtrack the guy’s mumble and break it into words.

Tickets. The guy was holding a pair of show tickets. They glowed paper-white under the streetlights. You boys need tickets?

I shook my head, but Jack was already digging around in his pockets, searching for his wallet.

No!” I said, and I said it fast and loud, grabbing for his elbow like that might actually stop him from doing whatever the hell he wanted.

Jack only laughed and pulled his arm out of my hand. “Hey, what’s the problem? You love Giantkiller, right? And you’ve been yowling all day about your stupid guitar, so this makes us square.”

magic guitar

I just looked at him. Square would be my Fender back.

Square would be if I could have a new brother.

He looked right at me, smiling in the way that when we were little always meant he was about to hold me down in the swimming pool or take my candy bar or lock me in the basement. “Acting like a whiny little bitch isn’t going to get your guitar back.”

There was an empty Schlitz can lying in the middle of the sidewalk and I kicked it hard so it went bouncing along the gutter and down into the storm drain. “If you’d have just stuck to pawning your own shit, I wouldn’t need to get it back. And yeah, I liked Giantkiller in the eighth grade. ”

Jack shrugged and smiled like none of that even made a difference. He handed the guy a couple of twenties and punched me on the arm. “Stop moaning about the guitar. We’ll get you another one.”

He passed me a ticket. It was crumpled and worn soft from being held in the guy’s gloved hand all night.

Also, Jack is an asshole.


Inside the club, the crowd was packed in all the way to the back bar. The whole place was dim and smelled like stale sweat and old beer and drying blood from the mosh pit.

Jack pushed straight through the swarms of people like they weren’t even there, and everyone just let him, even though two feet away, I saw a guy get punched in the face just for trying not to get crushed against the wall.

When Mason Tyler came onstage, the crowd screamed like they were being eaten alive. keep reading…

MF High School Edition: Bring on the Drama, or the Adventures of Young Maggie Stiefvater

Okay, so according to our theme this week, we are each posting humiliating pieces of our early writing for our readers’ amusement and enlightenment. Unfortunately, as I wrote (but didn’t always finish) 34 novels before I was published, and started writing when I was but a tiny maggot, I had much material to choose from. There were many forms of badness to choose from, from the very subtle to the roaringly hilarious, but finally I put my writing faults into a few major categories:

1. The relentless melodrama of a teen with a cause. I wrote a lot of IRA thrillers when I was 14-17, usually about disenfranchised Irish men who wanted to make a difference and got sucked into a bad crowd, or Irish-Americans being forced to pay for the crimes of their fathers, or former IRA terrorists who now had realized that they found the wet work unappealing and were trying to get out despite blackmail and hilariously bad sworn threats. They all have different names, plots, etc., but one thing is the same: the melodrama.

Example A typifies this:

Hounds of Ulster [I always had way more titles than novels]

[some manly pen name so that when I got this gem published it would sit comfortably on the shelf with Jack Higgins, the reader never suspecting i was but a sixteen year old girl]

What then remains, but that we still
should cry,
Not to be born, or being born, to die?
-Francis Bacon [I always had to have an enigmatic, fierce quote to start them off properly]

Belfast, Northern Ireland

Chapter One

Even the sounds of the street could not drown out the steady clatter of the flag pulling vainly at its bounds, high above the sidewalk. There was the harsh, metallic clatter against the flag pole, the soft, seductive rush of the flag in the breeze, and then the defiant snapping and cracking of the flag as the wind caught it and threw it here and there. [yep, the reader prolly knows what flags do]

It flew high above the sidewalks, where tourists and locals made their way to and from shops. It hung from a narrow flagpole, and was barely five feet long, but the shadow it cast could’ve stretched for hundreds of miles, a narrow strip of dark amongst the light. [again typical flag behavior, I’m waiting for the conflict here]

It was the British flag. [oh, SNAP! oh, wait . . . ]

It flew high above the Royal Ulster Constabulary police station, oblivious to everything below, cold and uncaring, for it was, after all, only a flag. [no comment. No, no comment]

Find out my other faults under the cut.