An Exclusive Interview with Leigh Bardugo, Author of SHADOW AND BONE, Part 2

Here is part 2 of the interview I had done with author Leigh Bardugo, where we talk about the Shadow and Bone movie, and what’s next for Leigh. 

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TFGeekGirl:  What were your first thoughts about DreamWorks when they were interested in getting the rights to your book? 

Leigh Bardugo:  (laughs) You know, if I could have hand picked a company to be interested in making Shadow and Bone into a movie, it would have been DreamWorks.  But it’s the kind of thing that you just don’t even let yourself think about.  What are the chances?  It was just not a call I expected to get. I think it’s very hard to do fantasy well, and I think they’re one of the few places that can, so I feel very safe in their hands.

TFGG: Did you imagine a certain actor/actress when you were writing the characters?

Leigh:  I don’t really use actors as inspiration. But it’s really fun for me to see who people pick.  I love seeing fancasting and I love when people create fan art or images. 

TFGG:  I’ve seen some pictures and I saw that Colton Haynes was fancast as Mal, and I found that interesting.

shadow-and-bone_lowresLeigh:  I think with fancasting, and this isn’t a criticism – I think you sort of need something to go by – and so people feel much more constrained by the physical appearance of the characters. Now, I’ll admit that if they say “let’s make the Darkling blond,” I’d be upset.  But it’s really much more important to me that the actors be able to bring what they need to bring to the table, rather than that they look like what I have in my head.  And I hope that people will be open-minded on casting.  I think it’s easy to get attached to hair color or eye color, but the most important thing is to find people who can really bring these characters to life. Real charisma is rare, and you just don’t know what someone will bring to a character or what kind of chemistry they’ll have with the other people in the cast.

TFGG:  What scenes are integral to the story that just have to be in the movie?

Leigh:  That’s a hard question.  I think that there’s a reason I’m not writing the screenplay (laughs).  I suspect the biggest challenge with Shadow and Bone will be that there are a lot of things that happen internally for Alina that will need to be externalized.  In terms of things that have to be there, there are certain scenes that were really the basis from  which the entire book grew. I would be heartbroken to see them go or change radically, but I’m going to keep an open mind see what our screenwriter comes up with. I think it’s important for me to step back and respect that it’s a totally different medium.

TFGG:  Will they let you see the script?

Leigh:  They will let me see the script and I’m looking forward to meeting our writer (Christopher Kyle). He wants to know what’s going to happen in book three.

TFGG: Is that about as far as you think you’ll be in the production?

heyman-kyleLeigh:  I don’t know.  I was lucky enough to meet with [producer] David Heyman when I was in London and I told him I’d like to be as involved in it as they would let me. But the fact is I have books to write and they have movies to make, and I’m happy to let them do their job.  Again,  if it were a different group of people, I would be a lot more insecure or worried about what they might do.  But these are people who have a proven track record of working well with authors and creating beautiful films.

TFGG: Are you still writing Ruin and Rising?

Leigh:  Ruin and Rising, the first draft, is finished and sent to my editor.  It will have to go through revisions, but it’s done.

TFGG:  Do you have any stories after the Grisha Trilogy is finished?

Leigh:  I can’t talk about some of the other projects that I’m working on, but there are a few things cooking.  And there’s a good chance that there will be more books set in the same world.  I will promise that the trilogy for these characters will be complete.  There will be no question in your mind.

TFGG:  So, your time is in writing right now?

grisha_insignia-corporalki_heartrendersLeigh:  It is.  Between writing and promotion, there isn’t room for a whole lot of anything else.  But I really wouldn’t have it any other way.  This is what I wanted my whole life.  Even when I’m at my most stressed out or freaked out or worried or tired, that’s only the top layer, and below that top layer there’s that deep sense of gratitude and satisfaction, and disbelief, honestly – I’ll periodically be walking down the street and just think, “I’m going to wake up!”  I’m going to be in my bed, and it’s going to be three years ago and none of this will have happened.  So, I don’t mind.

TFGG:  What Grisha power would you want?

Leigh:  I would be a Heartrender. (laughs) I really like red, and I just think it would be so badass.

TFGG:  Do you have your own kefta?

Leigh:  I don’t!  But I want one desperately.  I’ve been lucky enough to have a few people come out in Tsarpunk costume to events and I love that. A wonderful woman sent me one she’d made, but it didn’t quite fit. I felt terrible because of the work she’d put in.

TFGG: What are you reading right now? 

Leigh:  Right now I’m reading a history of guerrilla warfare by Max Boot.  (The full title is “Invisible Armies: An Epic History of Guerrilla Warfare from Ancient Times to the Present”). I’m in a non-fiction phase and it’s also a little bit of research.  I don’t get to read as much of [YA] as I used to, because I just don’t have as much time to read. I’m embarrassed to admit that I’d actually never read The Hunger Games trilogy until this last summer. I took two days and read them all!

That was where we ended, but I was able to ask her one more question as we were about to go our separate ways, and if you’ve read the free short story called The Witch of Duva, which is available on tor.com, she did say that there will another short that will also be available for free on tor.com, and will come out before Siege and Storm.  

You can check out Leigh’s official site – www.leighbardugo.com, which has some really fascinating information about the world of the Grisha, including how to speak Ravkan, and recipes from Ravka.  You can also go to her Tumblr site, or her Pinterest board for art and fashion that helps visualize Ravka.  

Siege and Storm is scheduled to be released on June 4, 2013.  So, don’t forget to pre-order!  

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An Exclusive Interview with Leigh Bardugo, Author of SHADOW AND BONE, Part 1

leigh-bardugo-2-smallThis past weekend, I got a chance to spend some time with the brilliant and wonderfully personable Leigh Bardugo.  Her debut book, Shadow and Bone, has already made an impressive mark on readers and sellers alike, and the movie rights were bought by DreamWorks in September of 2012, with David Heyman, the person responsible for securing the rights to the Harry Potter films as well as producing them, in the producer’s seat for the film as well.  Not a bad start at all for her first book.  

Leigh started at Yale University with the objective of being a writer, but she changed her mind as well as her major more than a handful of times.  After her education, she found longtime work as a makeup artist as well as a singer in a band, but it seemed that the call of writing came back to her, and therein began her real career officially as a writer with Shadow and Bone, the first book in the Grisha trilogy.

So, during ConDor Con in San Diego (a science fiction and fantasy convention), where Leigh took part in several panels, she allowed me some time in between to pick her brain on the details of Shadow and Bone, what we could expect from the sequel, Siege and Storm, what her involvement is with the Shadow and Bone movie, and what’s to come in the future for her.  With so many questions, I fear I may have exceeded the time an actual interview should last, but hopefully she wasn’t too deterred by my efforts to find out as much as I could for all you fans (as well as myself).

TFGeekGirl:  How much detail did you put into your creating Ravka?

Leigh Bardugo:  I drew a map that was really just to keep track of where my characters were, because I reached a point where I needed to see what distances were like and if it would take them a week to get someplace or two days.  I wanted there to be a realistic sense of that.  In books 2 and 3, there’s actually going to be an expanded map where we’ll get to see a little bit more of the world. I know there are authors who map out their world first, but that was really the second phase for me.  The first draft was the way the power worked, the way status worked, the plot, the beginnings of the characters. The second draft was where I’d taken a few months to research and where the sense of place came to life. That research had quite a bit of an impact on the way the story went as well.

TFGG: Was your story inspired by Russian folklore?

Leigh:  One of the retellings of the firebird myth served as inspiration for Shadow and Bone. But the rest of the plot and the characters grew out of the idea of the Shadow Fold— what kind of creatures would live in it, what kind of power it would take to create it, what kind of person would create it, what it would take to destroy it. But the feel of the place and a lot of the internal conflict within the country was inspired by Tsarist Russia—the army of serfs that is ill-equipped and badly armed and essentially just cannon fodder, the corrupt monarchy, the failure to industrialize. 

TFGG:  How much research did you do?

Leigh:  I took about two months to research, and I only gave myself two months because I didn’t want to stay too long away from the draft.  This was my first book and my fear was that I would just go down the “rabbit hole” of research and I would emerge six months later and then not have written a word.  I was afraid it would become an excuse to not write.

TFGG:  Did your experience as a makeup artist help in describing the Grisha as well as the story in general?

Leigh:  I don’t know.  I’ve always loved costuming and I’ve always loved makeup and creating illusion, so I think being able to convey the way the world looks and the way the world feels, maybe that was impacted by that experience.

TFGG:  Reading your book, I could really visualize it and I just thought your world was so beautiful.

Leigh:  Thank you! That’s part of why I wanted to write fantasy.  I know there are a lot of really wonderful, but very bleak books out there. I think there’s an element of fantasy that can be about wish fulfillment. I wanted to indulge that.

TFGG: How has the response been with the readers?

Leigh:  It’s been really wonderful.  Much better than I ever could’ve hoped for it to be.

TFGG:  What was the hardest challenge in writing Siege and Storm?

seige_and_storm-cover-smallLeigh:  I think for me it was a pretty steep learning curve. I had never written a second book.  I had never written a book on deadline before.  And I had a much tighter timeframe to finish in. I think it was also that the world becomes much more complex in Siege and Storm.  There are more characters who enter the plot, and the political and religious elements come into play in a bigger way, so it’s a more complicated story than Shadow and Bone. 

TFGG: Will we get to see more of Shu Han or Fjerda?

Leigh:  You’ll get to see Novyi Zem in Siege and Storm, but I can’t say much more than that without getting into spoiler territory. The new map will have a few hints.

TFGG:  Any new elements or powers?

Leigh:  Let’s just say that a lot of things have changed.  I guess I can tell you, since it’s in the summary, that the Darkling has emerged from the Fold with a new and terrible power.  So the Darkling has new tricks up his sleeve. I guess the best thing I can say is that no one and nothing in Ravka are ever quite what they seem.

TFGG:  So, we are going to get to see David and Genya again, right?

Leigh:  Mm-hmm (she nods).

TFGG:  The Apparat wanted to tell Alina something but he never got a chance to.  Will that come into play?

Leigh:  The Apparat will come into play more in the second book.  You will see him again.

TFGG:  I loved Morozova’s Stag and was really saddened about what happened to it, but are we going to see anymore magnificent creatures like that in the second book?

Leigh:  You may.  I can’t say much about that, but the idea of sacrifice plays a big role.

Obviously, I hit some things that she couldn’t really get into without spoiling it for us, as she answered some of my questions regarding Siege and Storm with a hint of coyness and a glint in her eye.  But it’s only 3 months away before the release of Siege and Storm, so you won’t have to wait too, too long to find out what’s coming.  Just know that it’s definitely going to thrill us to bits when it arrives.

Come back tomorrow for Part 2, the conclusion of my interview!

Christopher Kyle to Adapt Screenplay for ‘SHADOW AND BONE’ Movie

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I just finished reading Leigh Bardugo‘s ‘Shadow and Bone’ novel recently, and I absolutely loved it.  So, knowing that the movie rights were sold, that the possibility of it being made into an actual movie, just sends me geeky goosebumps all over.  I guess you can say that I’m excited for the possibility.

Now here’s the latest news to come about from it.  The DreamWorks bought adaptation has a writer for the screenplay!

Christopher Kyle is in negotiations to adapt Shadow and Bone, DreamWorks’ adaptation of the YA fantasy from Leigh Bardugo.

Harry Potter producer David Heyman is producing, as is Jeffrey Clifford (Up in the Air).

Christopher Kyle, you say?  Who’s Christopher Kyle?  Well, let’s see…

Kyle, repped by ICM Partners and Brillstein Entertainment Partners, penned K-19: Widowmaker and co-wrote The Weight of Water, both of which were directed by Kathryn Bigelow, and worked on Oliver Stone’s Alexander, which starred Colin Farrell and Angelina Jolie.

Last year, he adapted Ron Rash’s novel Serena, which shot with Susanne Bier behind the camera and Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence top-lining the period drama. The picture is in the midst of seeking a distributor.

Making the announcement that they have a screenwriter along with the two producers is a good thing if you want to see progress in the development part of the movie-making process.  However, when they listed the writers credits, my mouth twisted awkwardly in a distressing manner.  

You see, from what’s he’s listed as writing, I’ve only seen Stone’s ‘Alexander,’ and let me just say that that movie is not particularly in my “favorite movies” category.  Actually, it’s pretty much in the opposite spectrum of my list of categories, which is so not good.  

Also, he doesn’t have a very extensive credits list on IMDB, so it would seem that he’s still fairly new to this whole movie thing.  What’s odd is that his scripts have been through the hands of very well-respected actors, so it’s odd to think that his scripts don’t attract.  Still, this history of Kyle’s doesn’t bode well for my feelings about how this movie could end up for DreamWorks, or the fans of the book in general.  

I’d like to think that it’s the the sum of its parts that make or break a movie, or anything else for that matter, so it would be unfair for me to think that the writer will kill the movie.  However, in a way, it can, especially if the writer doesn’t take care to respect the original source material, and when it comes to books, that’s a very important matter to respect.   Many movies suffered from such a thing, and so even though the attraction of turning YA literature into the “next big hit” is strong right now, the demand from the readers to keep close to the source material is still very strong, no matter if a previous movie was able to be successful despite straying every once in a while from the originals (Yes, David Heyman, I’m talking to you, too).  And it starts with the writing.  

What I’m saying that I just really hope, and will continue to do so for each book-to-movie adaptation, they Christopher keeps that in mind when he writes this book out.  The big things are easy to remember, but the little things are what make the story unique.   

Here’s a little synopsis of the book: 

The first book of the intended trilogy takes place in a land under attack by a swath of darkness filled with creatures that feast on human flesh. A young woman discovers she has a dormant power that could be a key to turning the tide and is taken to be trained by her country’s magical elite.

You can also read my review on ‘Shadow and Bone.’

via Hollywood Reporter.

Random Fandom Movie News: ‘Harry Potter’ producer to make ‘Shadow and Bone’

Shadow and Bone has already made an impressive debut in the YA novels area, but now it’s getting a chance to be an impressive movie as well, what with Harry Potter producer David Heyman backing this up.

DreamWorks has picked up the movie rights to Leigh Bardugo’s bestseller Shadow and Bone, about an orphan girl whose ability to harness a rare magic makes her one of her nation’s most coveted warriors.

Holly Bario, DreamWorks’ president of production, will announce the acquisition later today, and although every studio would like to grab a fresh YA book series in the hope that it can be turned into the next Harry Potter-style film franchise, not every film has the actual producer of the Potter movies overseeing it.

Shadow and Bone would be the exception.

David Heyman will produce with Jeffrey Clifford under Heymaker Films.

The book, which debuted in June, is set in a fantasy version of Russia called Ravka, which is bisected by a territory called the Shadow Fold, brimming with a breed of flying fiends who feast on human flesh. The leadership of Ravka studies children to find those who can wield the power of the elements — fire, wind, water — or can mystically heal, then recruits these powerful young ones into the elite monster-fighting squad known as The Grisha, while all others are conscripted into brutal life in the regular army.

Alina Starkov is one of the latter — a seeming nobody who serves as a mere cartographer until her best friend, Mal, is wounded in an attack, triggering her latent ability to harness the power of light. Not many others in Ravka can do that, and Alina becomes both a prize and a target due to her rare abilities.

They have yet to secure a direct or screenwriter, so everything is still up in the air, but with the gush of YA novels turning into big screen films, I’m sure the studios are itching to get as many out as possible.

Bardugo’s next book in the series will be called Siege and Storm, with a planned release date of June 2013, while an as-yet-untitled third installment is due out in summer 2014.

Check out the book trailer for Shadow and Bone:

(Source: EW.com)