Author Maggie Thrash on Comics, Summer Camp and Cats

The Newark writer will lead a workshop during the Delaware Festival of Words at Thomas McKean High School on Thursday, Feb. 15.


Maggie Thrash’s first book, “Honor Girl,” debuted in 2015. Filled with self-drawn comics,the graphic memoir recounts Thrash’s experience falling in love for the first time at an all-girls summer camp in the south at the age of 15.

“It was not the easiest environment in which to realize that I was gay,” she says. “But it was equal parts challenging and surreally funny, so it’s kind of like my coming-out story.”

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Thrash has also written a mystery series, which includes the novels “Strange Truth” and “Strange Lies.” “Those books are where my dark side comes out,” she says.

On Thursday, Feb. 15, Thrash will be one of the featured authors during the Delaware Festival of Words at Thomas McKean High School in Wilmington. Her workshop will explore the ins and outs of writing a graphic novel, including the basics of visual storytelling and drawing characters.  


On moving from Georgia to Delaware:

I came to Delaware because a friend of mine works at the University of Delaware as a librarian. I came here thinking it would be sort of a pit stop on my way to New York. That was my eventual goal—to move to New York and be a “real” writer. But that was six years ago, and I just liked Delaware so much that I decided to stay here.


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On graphic novels versus prose:

The proceses are very different. Writing a graphic novel is more mathematical. You have to do a ton of planning—you have to use a lot of math, dimensions, plotting your page. You can’t be very spontaneous. You have to know exactly what you’re doing. Whereas with a prose novel, for me, I just go one sentence at a time, and I don’t plan much at all and it just sort of unfolds in a much more organic way. Each style challenges me in a different way.


On drawing her own comics:

I don’t have an art background and I’ve never even taken an art class, so that was really challenging. I love talking to kids and teenagers and telling them that anyone can do this. You don’t have to go to an expensive art school or have a bunch of training. You just have to have the focus and the drive—and the hubris—to believe that you can do it.


Why young adult writing?

I’m 32 years old, but I feel like I am the exact same person I was when I was 16. My brain and my outlook have not changed very much, so it’s just kind of a natural point of view for me to be writing. I’m branching out a little right now—I’m working on my first adult book—and that’s been pretty interesting. But for the most part, I think I gravitate toward young adult [books] because that’s just how I feel.

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Favorite spot in Delaware:

I have to give you three. I love White Clay Creek State Park—I go there all the time. I love the Pre-Raphaelites at the Delaware Art Museum; that exhibit is amazing. And I go to trivia at Grain on Main Street in Newark every Tuesday.


Favorite authors:

For comics, my favorite author is Bryan Lee O’Malley, who did the “Scott Pilgrim” series. And for prose authors, I love Donna Tartt.


Favorite book:

It’s between “The Secret History” and “The Goldfinch,” both by Donna Tartt. I think it’s “The Goldfinch.”


On combating a creative block:

I walk. I just put on some headphones and listen to new-age music, like Enya, and I just walk down Main Street in Newark. Or I go to White Clay Creek State Park and I just get out of my room and get out of my head. Usually I can find some inspiration that way.


Fun fact:

I feed a lot of the feral cats around Newark. When I go on walks, I always carry a little Ziploc bag full of cat food.  

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