Blog Tour for THE LAST MAGICIAN: Giveaway and Interview with Lisa Maxwell

Happy Saturday peeps!! I am so absolutely thrilled to have NYT bestselling YA author, Lisa Maxwell, on the blog today. I'll be interviewing her about her writing, and there's also two international giveaways and information about her latest book, The Last Magician.
Happy reading, I hope you enjoy what we've got for you!

I am so excited to be interviewing Lisa about her writing and writing process. If you're an aspiring author like I am, I'm sure you'll find her answers especially helpful :) I definitely did. 

What is your favourite type of scene to write and why?

I love writing scenes that establish a mood or a place. Dialog and action is fun, but those scenes always feel more like the nuts and bolts of a book. Scenes that immerse the reader in setting and in a moment are harder for me, but they’re also infinitely more rewarding. I always find the voice of the book I’m looking for in those scenes.

What is your hardest scene to write and why?

For this book, the hardest scenes were the ones that were showcasing the hatred, prejudice, and discrimination the different immigrants faced. Maybe they shouldn’t have been that hard, since I took a lot of the hatred for the Mageus straight from documents from the early 20th century talking about real immigrants, but getting the emotion right was really tough. I didn’t want them to feel like melodrama or too over the top, but I wanted the reader to feel uncomfortable with the amount of hatred on the pages.

What aspect of writing do you struggle with the most and how do you overcome it?

It depends on the book. Right now, drafting is my nemesis. For UNHOOKED, drafting was fine—easy even. But for the sequel I’m working on? It’s been hard to get out of my head and just do the work.

In terms of your writing style, which other author is your biggest influence and in what way?

I’m not sure I have one single influence. I love Laini Taylor’s writing—it has the kind of voice and gorgeous lyricism that I want in my own work. But I think a lot of my inspiration and influence comes from classic literature—Toni Morrison, Tim O’Brien, Fitzgerald, Kay Boyle.

Is there an overall message or “stance” that you hope comes through in all your books?

I always have an idea that I’m working with…some theme that helps me keep the spine of the story in line, but I don’t think I’d go as far as saying it’s a “stance.” Or even an argument. For this book I really wanted to look at the way that prejudice and fear works. I’m from a family of immigrants, but even the struggles they wen through didn’t stop them from having prejudices or being racist. I wanted to look at how that happens—how one oppressed group can turn around and oppress another as well, rather than drawing on empathy to stop that prejudice. Do I have a message about it? I mean, it would be great if we could stop doing it, but I just want to open up questions more than give answers.

What’s something you wish you’d known when you published your first book?

I wish I’d known how little promo efforts work. I think when you get your first book deal, you feel all this pressure to go to conferences and buy swag and do all the contests. In part, it’s because you’re seeing other people do it for themselves or because you’re seeing publishers do it for people who got bigger deals. But all the money you throw at promo? It’s not guaranteed to do a single thing. I wish I would have known that. It would have taken some of the pressure off.

What advice would you give a writer who’s struggling to write because they’re crippled by their perfectionist standards?

Do NaNoWriMo. 
Seriously. National Novel Writing Month is amazing because it gives you permission to suck and forces you to just write. You get a community of other writers, you get tons of fun challenges and events to help you keep going, and you get the pressure to get words down—not get words write. It’s how I did UNHOOKED, and it’s also how I got about 60k of THE LAST MAGICIAN, when I was psyching myself out because I wanted the book to be THE BEST THING EVER. 

Otherwise, just keep telling yourself that it just needs to be done. 

I’ve been really struggling with getting words for TLM’s sequel. I’m SO proud and happy with how TLM turned out, and part of me has been psyching myself out about being able to make the sequel better. Then, for some of these blog stops, I had to come up with deleted scenes and I found the first drafts of TLM’s opening. I’d forgotten that I’d started it as a first-person book. I’d forgotten how bad that first draft was. That’s helped some, because it lets me know that I can fix whatever I write, even if it does suck.

Are you a plotter or a pantser? Do you have an outlining method?

Plotter all the way. I’ve done outlining a bunch of different ways, but usually I start with a kind of loose roadmap or I force myself to write a synopsis. Then I use spreadsheets that have different scenes/beats marked out on them and try to fill them in as much as possible. 

I also like drawing timelines. Since my books tend to have lots of stuff going on in terms of backstory that affects the present-moment action or characters with ulterior motivations, often I’ll draw out a long timeline by literally taping together pieces of paper so I have a big strip. That way I can see where things are happening.

What’s your best method for getting inside your characters’ heads?

I like filling out character worksheets. For instance, I didn’t know something about Esta until I filled out a worksheet that asked “Does s/he have any scars?” and I wrote “yes.” Then I had to figure out why the heck I wrote that, what her scar was from, and how it affected her. 

I also sometimes will write the scene from another character’s POV, just to see how they would react or see the actions of the moment.

If you could warn aspiring authors about one thing in the writing/publishing world, what would it be and how could they deal with or prepare for it?

So much involves luck, and there is not a thing you can do about that other than to work hard and be ready for opportunities. Sweet Unrest almost wasn’t published. Unhooked almost didn’t find a publisher—a friend actually mentioned to her new editor that she knew someone writing a pirate book. Another editor at Pulse had already turned it down. TLM almost wasn’t a book. When I first pitched it, the editor I had at the time wasn’t convinced it would be a big enough book to follow Unhooked.

But none of those lucky breaks could have happened if I hadn’t been working—writing, honing my craft, getting better, getting ready. Being professional.

The other thing I’d warn them about is that publishing isn’t fair and you just have to keep your eyes on your own paper. Most authors are not going to be sent to festivals or on tour. Most authors are not going to be wined and dined by their publishers. (My husband not-so-jokingly calls it a pyramid scheme.) You will see big things happening for some people and it will be hard not to feel jealous. You have to remember—you have a book. You’re still in the game. All the other stuff doesn’t matter, because you’d be writing even if no one paid you a dime for it. Jealousy or the urge to get in with the crowd that seems to be moving up, up, up can cause you to miss out on what you do have, and on the amazing friendships you could have if you’re only looking to “network” with the movers and shakers in the book world. Do the work. Focus on your art. The other stuff—the business of writing—you can’t control any of that. Just hold on for the ride.

Lisa Maxwell is the author of The Last Magician, Unhooked, Sweet Unrest, and The Gathering Deep. She grew up in Akron, Ohio, and has a PhD in English. She’s worked as a teacher, scholar, editor, writer, and bookseller (at Little Professor Book Center in Alabama). When she’s not writing books, she’s a professor at a local college. She now lives near Washington, DC, with her husband and two sons. You can follow her on Twitter @LisaMaxwellYA or learn more about her upcoming books at

Author Website     Book Website (with special content)     Twitter     Facebook         Instagram

Stop the Magician. Steal the book. Save the future. In modern day New York, magic is all but extinct. The remaining few who have an affinity for magic—the Mageus—live in the shadows, hiding who they are. Any Mageus who enters Manhattan becomes trapped by the Brink, a dark energy barrier that confines them to the island. Crossing it means losing their power—and often their lives. Esta is a talented thief, and she's been raised to steal magical artifacts from the sinister Order that created the Brink. With her innate ability to manipulate time, Esta can pilfer from the past, collecting these artifacts before the Order even realizes she’s there. And all of Esta’s training has been for one final job: traveling back to 1902 to steal an ancient book containing the secrets of the Order—and the Brink—before the Magician can destroy it and doom the Mageus to a hopeless future. But Old New York is a dangerous world ruled by ruthless gangs and secret societies, a world where the very air crackles with magic. Nothing is as it seems, including the Magician himself. And for Esta to save her future, she may have to betray everyone in the past.

Goodreads    /   Amazon


a Rafflecopter giveaway

And then there's more! Below you can enter to win a signed copy of The Last Magician and some bonus swag items! 

Are you excited to read The Last Magician?! Doesn't it look amazing? 
Did you enjoy the interview? 


  1. I haven't read it yet. But really looking forward to it. Thanks for the international giveaway.

    1. Hope you get to read it soon! And my pleasure :)

  2. EEEP I LOVE AUTHOR INTERVIEWS! :D It's awesome to be able to hear thoughts from published authors.

    *glances at TBR* *sighs* It's getting higher and higher, but I'll have to add this book xD

    I loved your questions, Amy! <3

    audrey caylin

    1. They are awesome! Glad you enjoyed!

      Sigh. I apologise for tempting you ;)

      Thanks Audrey! <3

  3. Oh my gosh magicians in New York! I'm so in for this. I loved all of Lisa's answers-- I do agree with her as well that publishing does take a lot of luck.

    xoxo Abigail Lennah | ups & downs

    1. Right?! It looks amazing!
      Thanks for the comment :)

  4. I haven't read this book yet but I LOVE the premise and the cover *heart eyes*

  5. I can't wait to read this book!! Thanks for hosting the giveaway!

  6. Amazing questions Amy! And fantastic answers from Lisa. I loved reading about her process.

    I was lucky enough to read and review this book as an arc and it's definitely something special.

    1. Thanks Di!

      I'm so glad you loved it :)