MacKids Spotlight: Margaret Owen

When describing Little Thieves, what’s your elevator pitch?

Margaret Owen: If the Horrible Goose from Untitled Goose Game was the protagonist in a fairytale! And if that reference is completely lost on the audience, I’d pitch Little Thieves as “A maid steals the identity of the princess she once served, uses it as a cover for jewel heists, and winds up cursed to turn into jewels herself unless she can make up for everything she’s stolen—including the princess’s life.”

What inspired you to write Little Thieves?

Margaret: I think it was the intersection of two genres that are having a resurgence right now—fairytale retellings and true crime. Little Thieves is a loose retelling of The Goose Girl, which had a rather radical central conflict: the good and meek princess has her identity stolen by her maid… and absolutely no one clocks the difference. When you read about scammers like Anna Delvey/Sorokin, who conned people with the illusion of glamor and wealth, that radical idea seems less outlandish.

Tell us about a librarian or educator who made an impact on you.

Margaret: My senior year Honors Humanities teacher, Ms. Murray, had the unenviable task of teaching a bunch of 17- and 18-year-olds the entire recorded history of philosophy. She pulled it off and then some, and she did it by treating us with respect and creating a safe environment for us to discuss questions of existence and ethics without feeling put on the spot. Also, we got to watch Star Trek episodes for some classes, which was pretty great.

What is the first step in your creative process?  

Margaret: It’s very impractical, but I usually try to let an idea bang around in my head for a couple weeks and crash into other ideas and mutate, until it’s substantial enough that I have to start writing the juicy stuff down. I also tend to sketch major characters, and sometimes different settings or objects!

What advice would you give to young writers? 

Margaret: Resilience is key! You hear “no” a lot more than you hear “yes” in publishing, no matter how successful or talented you are. The only writers still around are the ones who kept going. Figure out your rituals to shake off a bruised ego, and you’ll already be ahead of the game.

What was your favorite book when you were 10 years old?

Margaret: At that age it was probably a tie between the Dragon Chronicles series by Susan Fletcher, Saddle Club, and Nancy Drew. That probably explains a lot about me, huh?


Margaret Owen was born and raised at the end of the Oregon Trail and has worked in everything from thrift stores to presidential campaigns. The common thread between every job can be summed up as: lessons were learned. She now spends her days writing and negotiating a long-term hostage situation with her two monstrous cats. She is the author of the Merciful Crow series. In her free time, she enjoys exploring ill-advised travel destinations and raising money for social justice nonprofits through her illustrations. She resides in Seattle, Washington.


Little Thieves by Margaret Owen
Ages 14+
On Sale October 5, 2021

A scrappy maid must outsmart both palace nobles and Low Gods in a new YA fantasy by Margaret Owen, author of the Merciful Crow series.

The little thief steals gold, but the great one steals kingdoms;
And only one goes to the gallows…

Vanja Schmidt knows no gift is freely given, not even a mother’s love. Abandoned to Death and Fortune as a child, she has scraped by as a lowly maidservant with her quick wits and the ability to see her god-mothers’ hands at work in the world. But when they demand her lifelong servitude in exchange, Vanja decides that gifts not given freely…can always be stolen.

When an opportunity rises to steal a string of enchanted pearls, Vanja seizes it, transforming herself into Gisele, the princess she’s served for years. As the glamorous princess, Vanja leads a double life, charming the nobility while ransacking their coffers as a jewel thief. Then, one heist away from funding an escape from her god-mothers, Vanja crosses the wrong god, and is cursed to turn into jewels herself. The only way to save herself is to make up for what she’s taken—starting with her first victim, Princess Gisele.

A wicked retelling of “The Goose Girl,” Little Thieves is a delightfully witty YA fantasy about the fickle hands of fate, and changing the cards we’re dealt.

“Part heist, part adventure, with a slow-burning romance at its heart…a story to savor.”—Publisher’s WeeklyStarred Review

“Packed with heists, gods, and monsters…readers will love rooting for Owen’s clever antiheroine with ambition….Highly recommended and not to be missed.”—School Library JournalStarred Review

“A lush and lively adventure replete with romance, revenge, and robbery.”—Kirkus ReviewsStarred Review

“A breathlessly inventive, never-a-dull-moment adventure of found family and second (or fourth or fifth) chances. If you’re not careful, it’ll steal your heart, too.”—BooklistStarred Review

Read more author Q&As here!