When author Victoria “V.E.” Schwab is writing a book, she starts from the ending and works her way backwards through the story. She knows whether a book is going to be a series or a novel, and always tries to take the reader on an adventure beside her. Schwab will be visiting Ann Arbor, hosted by Literati bookstore, on April 14.
“I like doing things differently each time,” Schwab said. “I like stretching in new directions each time and taking on new challenges. I think that is what’s evident in the end result, which is that every book is slightly written to a different person.”
Schwab writes books for middle grade, young adults and adults, with extremely diverse works between the three ages she caters to.
“I have found that the best way for me to liberate myself creatively is to never try and do the same thing twice,” Schwab said. “I’m asking my readers to trust fall with me every single time they pick up one of my books, and I’m almost guaranteeing that they’re not going to like all of my books equally. But I’m also guaranteeing that most of them are willing to take a chance more than once on my books because they know that if they found one they didn’t like, it didn’t mean they weren’t going to like all of them.”
On her tour, she is promoting “The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue,” one of her most popular books. The stand-alone novel came out at the height of the Covid pandemic, moving all events to be virtual at the time. Now, Schwab has the opportunity to see readers face-to-face again and relish in this book three years after publication.
“At its heart, Addie LaRue is a novel about living in the present about finding hope in uncertainty and finding small joy during difficult times,” she said. “Of course, I didn’t realize when I wrote the novel that it would be coming out into that context at a time when that was. So I think it spoke to readers in a really urgent way.”
“The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue” is Schwab’s 20th book, and took 10 years to complete. It stayed on The New York Times Best Seller list for over 40 weeks and was also nominated for the 2021 Locus Award for Best Fantasy Novel.
“This book was so personal and it belonged, like all stories do, it belonged only to me for a very long time,” Schwab said. “when it was published, it felt like a loss to me. I had a kind of grieving window, that she didn’t belong to me anymore, that her story was done. And to see her story be picked up and held and carried and remembered by readers is the greatest gift that I’ve ever had.”
Her next book, “The Fragile Threads of Power,” comes out on Oct. 3, and takes place in the same realm as her series the “Shades of Magic.” Certain characters and elements will be returning, but many new elements have yet to be revealed. With this, she has set up new challenges for herself to fulfill the promise to herself and her readers: that every story is unique.
“It’s really important to remember as readers that writers aren’t stagnant and our art changes with us,” she said. “It’s really hard because if there’s a temptation to do that, when you have a successful book or a successful series, there’s a part of your mind that’s always saying do more of that, and readers will buy it, but I don’t want it just to be more of a good thing. It needs to be a new thing for me, too.”