As she should. After more than 20 years in the industry, Maas, 36, is a bona fide icon. She’s come a long way from her days as a quiet teenager reading fairytales and watching Buffy the Vampire Slayer and The Goonies in New York City. “I’ve learnt to be kinder to myself as a writer. When I was younger, I’d tell myself I sucked and I wasn’t good enough,” she says. “Now, I’m like, well f**k you, mean little inner critic. My first draft might be crap, but I can fix it.”
What hasn’t changed is her love for the craft. “Writing is still the thing that brings me joy. There’s nothing like getting super into a scene – then looking at the clock and eight hours have passed. That feeling made me want to be a writer, and I still get it.”
In a genre dominated by blokes such as George R.R. Martin, Stephen King and J.R.R. Tolkien, Maas is a rare – and powerful – female voice. “I think things are changing and we’re at a golden age for amazing female writers. There’s still a lot of work to be done in YA fantasy, but I hope it gets to the point where we don’t even have to discuss being a female writer in a sea of male writers. Girls are going to grow up with so many heroines and kick-ass writers,” says Maas, who describes herself as a proud, unabashed feminist. “If I could, I would have a stamp on my forehead.”
As well as being excited about the future of the fantasy genre, Maas is especially eager about her debut adult series Crescent City: House of Earth and Blood, an action-packed adventure full of mythology and her signature touch of romance. “The writing process didn’t feel any different [to YA], apart from a few more f-bombs,” admits Maas, who tries to write every single day. “I hope the readers have as much fun reading it as I did writing it. I’ve turned it in already, but I can’t stop thinking about it and wanting to add in more scenes. When that happens, I know I am truly obsessed.” Personally, she’s looking forward to some family milestones, such as seeing her son, Taran, take his first steps in their backyard and getting back into a normal eating routine. “When I’m on a deadline, I eat like a wild animal; three cups of coffee in the morning, an English muffin snack, a grapefruit and 10 chicken nuggets in the afternoon,” she says with her J-Law candour. Bestselling authors, they’re just like us.
This article originally appeared in the April issue of marie claire.