Maggie Thrash is the author of the graphic memoir Honor Girl as well as the Strange Truth books. She is a former staff writer for Rookie. Following her acclaimed Honor Girl, Maggie Thrash revisits a period of teenage depression in Lost Soul, Be at Peace (Candlewick), a graphic memoir that is at once thoughtful, honest, and marked by hope. A year and a half after the summer that changed her life, Maggie Thrash wishes she could change it all back. She’s trapped in a dark depression and flunking eleventh grade, befuddling her patrician mother while going unnoticed by her father, a workaholic federal judge. The only thing Maggie cares about is her cat, Tommi . . . who then disappears somewhere in the walls of her cavernous house. So her search begins — but Maggie’s not even really sure what she’s lost, and she has no idea what she’ll find. Lost Soul, Be at Peace is the continuation of Maggie’s story from her critically acclaimed memoir Honor Girl, one that brings her devastating honesty and humor to the before and after of depression.
RQ is proud to announce Maggie Thrash as a featured author for “3 YA Stories @ the 2018 Miami Book Fair panel,” on Sunday, November 18th @ 1:00 PM, featuring T. Cooper & Allison Glock-Cooper, Nic Stone and hosted by David Levithan. Please RSVP here.
Jan Becker: I enjoyed reading both Honor Girl and your new graphic memoir Lost Soul, Be at Peace. What was the difference for you in terms of process for writing/illustrating both memoirs?
Honor Girl was simpler in concept, but harder to execute. I had zero artistic background when I started. I’d never taken a single art class! But I forced myself to see it through. By the time I was writing Lost Soul, I had more artistic experience under my belt, but the surreal concept was more challenging. Both books were incredibly hard, but both were worth it.
JB: In Lost Soul Be at Peace, your family is more present than in Honor Girl, especially your father, a federal judge, who seems especially private and reserved. How did your family react to the new book?
I’m lucky in that my dad has tremendous respect for personal freedom. It’s the guiding principal of his life, and mine too. My mom, on the other hand, finds me totally obnoxious! She wishes I would stick to fiction. But she’s still incredibly supportive, considering.
JB: In Lost Soul, Be at Peace, your attempts to come out as lesbian in a Southern conservative town were largely ignored. You wrote, “It’s like shouting into the emptiness of space and being surprised there’s no answer.” When did you finally receive affirmation/recognition as a queer woman?
Not till I was thirty years old and Honor Girl was published! I always tell young queer people who are struggling with coming out– don’t expect a big warm hug from the world right away, because you probably won’t get it. Just try to be strong and persevere in who you are.
JB: You’re known as a YA writer. Why did you choose this readership?
Part of me never stopped being a teenager. I relate to teenagers way more than 99% of adults. They just understand me, and I understand them.
JB: Do your readers respond differently to your memoirs than to your fiction? In what ways?
I guess people are surprised that my fiction isn’t just a thinly veiled repeat of Honor Girl. I like experimenting with wildly different genres and characters. I can’t just write the same book over and over!
JB: You take some liberties with imagination in the latest book. Can you talk about your use of fictional devices/characters in nonfiction? How do fictional devices bring you closer to truth?
Emotional truth is always more important to me than literal truth. Emotional truth is the truth that shapes you and stays with you forever. The exact details don’t matter.
JB: What are you most looking forward to at this year’s Miami Book Fair?
I love that MBF always has tons of cartoonists and graphic novelists. It’s my favorite festival of the year. It’s better than Christmas!
JB: What’s next for Maggie Thrash?
Like, I said, I’m always experimenting. I think I might try an “adult” book next. I’m thirty-three years old. I guess I have to grow up some time.
Learn more about Maggie Thrash here.
Please RSVP to meet Maggie Thrash at the Reading Queer presentation “3 YA Stories @ the 2018 Miami Book Fair panel,” on Sunday, November 18th @ 1:00 PM, featuring T. Cooper & Allison Glock-Cooper, Nic Stone and hosted by David Levithan.