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Beautiful Creatures spinoff shows that no one is a lost cause

Published: Saturday, May 17 2014 3:45 p.m. MDT

You can’t be awful at everything.

That's the motto that Margaret Stohl, co-author of the Beautiful Creatures book series, used as the subtitle for one of her speeches to schoolchildren.

“Just because you’re terrible at one thing doesn’t mean you are terrible with everything,” Stohl says.

Co-author Kami Garcia echoed Stohl in an interview with the Deseret News by adding that teens today feel too much pressure to excel or be amazing at everything, which is impossible.

And whether they meant it to or not, that motto became a message within their books that has resonated with their readers on a global scale. The idea that it’s OK to be who you are — to claim yourself and express your individuality — has reached some 7 million readers in 50 countries and has been translated into 39 languages.

“We don’t set up to write those kinds of things ... but I think we really identify with that feeling of wanting to be brave enough to be comfortable in the person you are. So it bleeds into the story,” Garcia said.

Stohl and Garcia are no strangers to the feeling of not quite fitting in or being “a little weird” among their peers in school.

When Stohl was in the first grade, she said, unbeknownst to anyone, she climbed out the window of her classroom, walked five blocks home, locked herself in her room, got out a pile of books and started reading.

“I was not a conformity person. I couldn’t sit in the classroom and do the work. I just couldn’t take it,” Stohl said.

Garcia often found herself in the same predicament, though rather than leaving school, she opted for reading “The Lord of the Rings” under her desk in math class. “I would get caught ... and they would have conferences with my mom and say maybe I would be doing a little bit better in math class if I would actually pay attention and not read under my desk,” Garcia said.

Reading books was such a big part of their lives that it may not be surprising they both became authors. But to them, it was one of the biggest surprises of all.

“I just loved to read. It never occurred to me in a million years that I would become a writer ... Margi (Stohl) was the one really writing,” Garcia said.

And Stohl was writing. “I would write anything I could get my hands on,” Stohl said. She even wrote the script for an Imax movie — not to mention a lot of first chapters to books that never got finished.

“I was afraid to write a book because it was the thing I most wanted to do, and I didn’t want to fail,” she said. The Beautiful Creatures book series only came about because Stohl’s teenage daughter dared her and Garcia to write one. “And that’s really only because you’ll do things for your kids that you wouldn’t do for yourself.”

It took only 12 weeks for the pair to write the first book in the popular Beautiful Creatures series. The rest is history.

Although the Beautiful Creatures story is over, both Stohl and Garcia felt compelled by the urge to tell stories. So they set out to write books individually. (Stohl's "Icons" was released a year ago, and Garcia's "Unbreakable" was published last fall.) But a recurring fan request to have a spinoff about favorite side characters bad girl and siren Ridley Duchennes and her "adorkable" boyfriend, Wesley “Link” Lincoln, set an idea in motion.

It was while the authors were in Italy for the "Beautiful Creatures" movie that they began talking about how fun it would be to write another Beautiful Creatures book.

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