Margaret Stohl is the creator behind one of 2017’s most hilarious, relatable, and original contemporary book releases: Royce Rolls. But her repertoire also boasts a more fantastical focus.
Whether focusing on the intricacies of family life and modern-day culture, or planet saving feats using superhuman powers, Stohl proves she has a theme that runs through the entirety of her back- and (hopefully) future-catalogues. This positive side she manages to spin on every story stems from her encouragement of empathy.
We got chatting to the Margaret about her writing inspirations and how her positivity links her divergent characters.
Reality TV is a very popular part of modern day entertainment, as is reading. What made you want to combine the two?
Everything I write is considered “fiction,” but reality television is a totally different kind of fiction that purports not to be. Los Angeles, where I live, is also like that – simultaneously real and not real. I began to wonder what real families had in common with any of the “characters” we see in reality television families – and what a “real” person like me would have done, had I been born into a family like that. Even the question made me laugh.
Did you watch any reality TV as research for your book, and, if so, how did this influence your writing?
I have close friends who produce reality television shows, so I spoke with them extensively in the earliest stages of planning the book. But like everyone — whether or not they admit it — of course I’ve watched all sorts of reality programming.
And was there any literature that helped with your research for this book?
Are there any real-life reality stars, in particular, that inspired your work, or this was, in part, based on anyone you know of?
Of course, everyone always goes right to the Kardashians, but really the book was more inspired by the celebrities who we all actually run into all the time in L.A. We begin to feel like we know them.
Rolling with the Royces acts almost as a behind-the-scenes insight into celebrities’ lives, and it is a lot darker than I initially expected. Why did this book have such a dark focus and deal with such raw emotion?
I think there is a desperate and needy edge to celebrity culture, and desperation can lead to a very dark place. But also, dark humour is really my favourite thing. But the realisation that love and family can redeem even the darkest of moments is actually quite optimistic if you think about it.
How did you pick which character of the family to focus on?
I originally was drawn to the mother, Mercedes, as I thought perhaps the book might have been an adult novel centred on her. When I realised I was writing a YA book, I knew Bentley would be my focus. Truthfully, the story is about the family as a whole.
Each character has a story that is equally as compelling as the next. Can we expect more from this family in the future?
Perhaps. I really would love to see Mercedes run for president, now that we know such a thing is possible!
Your previous work has had a more fantastical focus. How did that compare to writing contemporary?
Well, I wrote urban fantasy, which is sort of equal parts contemporary and fantasy. So I’m really comfortable on either side of that equation. My approach to ‘Captain Marvel‘, the comic I write for Marvel, is also “hero as a real person,” as were my books about the ‘Black Widow‘. I love taking a realistic look at larger-than-life characters, I suppose.
Were there any similarities between writing in a fictional realm and writing in our own world?
World building is always world building, no matter the world. You’re always choosing what details to draw upon. Truthfully, it’s more similar than you’d imagine.
Is there anything else you are currently working on, or that we can expect from you in the future?
My next book is for younger readers, called Cats vs Robots: This is War. It’s about my family. My husband builds robots that torment my cats, and we wrote the book together. My youngest child is an artist and illustrating it. So it’s quite the family affair! Beyond that, I’m still writing Captain Marvel, as well as some Marvel books I can’t quite speak about yet. There is always more to come!