Leigh Bardugo’s SIEGE AND STORM Blog Tour Stop #9

On Leigh Bardugo‘s ninth stop in her blog tour, Leigh discusses her collaboration with artist Keith Thompson on the map for Siege and Storm:

Some fantasy authors begin with the map. They know where everything in their world is before they write a single word. I ended up taking a different route. I started with only the vaguest idea of what my world looked like: All I knew was that Ravka (nameless at the time) was surrounded by enemies and that the Shadow Fold had left the country landlocked. But about halfway through the draft, I had to get serious about what the geography of this place looked like. I wanted a good sense of the distances between locations, and honestly, I just needed to keep track of where things were.

This is a section of the original map I drew that became the map for Shadow and Bone. (Is it a coincidence that my heroine is a talentless cartographer? Possibly.) Though it looks like it was drawn by a precocious toddler, it did the trick. I was able to chart Alina’s journey and get a stronger sense for the geopolitical forces at work in my story.

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I knew I wouldn’t be able to include the map when I began querying for agents. (Note to aspiring authors: Agents do not want to see extras in the slushpile.) So I put the map aside and didn’t think of it again until I was beginning Siege and Storm. Once again, the world was expanding and I needed to keep up. This time, maybe because I knew my world so much better, I had a lot more fun with it. I knew the places that I wanted to go and some of the future stories I wanted to tell, and the geography came alive—the land bridge between Kerch and the Shu Han kept submerged by Tidemakers, the peaks of the Elbjen, and the icy islands of Kenst Hjerte, the Broken Heart.

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My original scribble of Kerch.

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My attempt to tidy it up. You can see the pencil marks.

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Keith’s Version. You can hardly tell the difference, right?

Of course, at this time, I had no idea that Keith Thompson was being brought on to turn my awkward sketch into a work of art for Shadow and Bone. I’d been a fan of Keith’s work since I first saw it in Scott Westerfeld’s brilliant Leviathan, and hearing that he would be creating the map for my book was truly one of the most bizarre and incredible moments in my journey to publication.

When I asked Keith about how he approached the process of creating the map, he said he began by going through his own map collection. “Knowing the general equivalent timeline and type of cultural setting meant that I was already keeping to a specific selection of maps and artworks. After steeping myself in those real world analogues I filtered everything through my own aesthetic and vision and of course tried to instill in it your own visions of the world.” He most enjoyed working on the Shadow Fold: “It really is the focus of the map. It’s like a manifest act of violence on a piece of cartography. That’s a fun thing to present as something which obviously must be crossed by the protagonists.”

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Keith’s map creates a beautiful first impression, but it’s also full of revealing little details. If you look closely, you’ll see a representation of the Darkling’s symbol on the right. On the left, he added the Ravkan double eagle—the symbol of the Lantsov family. The details of the eagle aren’t revealed until book 2, but I gave them to Keith and he managed to work them into the map in Shadow and Bone. (The eagle holds a scepter in one talon. In the other, he grips three black arrows bound by red, purple, and blue ribbons. These symbolize the Darkling’s power through the three Orders of the Grisha.)

siege-and-storm-map-double-eagle If you look to the True Sea, you’ll also glimpse the sea whip. There was another creature originally on the map, but we had to remove it because it was too much of a spoiler.

As far as I’m concerned, Keith didn’t just draw a map, he created something ominous, lovely, and integral to the experience of reading Shadow and Bone. I’m thrilled that he came back for Siege and Storm, and I hope the expanded map will make it even easier for readers to journey into Ravka—whether they’re finding their way or just enjoying getting lost.

The expanded map from Siege and Storm

The expanded map from Siege and Storm

(via ninth blog tour stop: Tales of the Ravenous Reader.  Enter to win a paperback copy of Shadow and Bone and a Hardcover copy of the upcoming Siege and Storm!)

Leigh Bardugo’s SIEGE AND STORM Blog Tour Stop #7

On Leigh Bardugo‘s seventh stop in her blog tour, Leigh gives us more insight on Alina, the 2 previously known male characters and 1 new male character in Siege and Storm, as well as some information on Ravkan wedding traditions (what?!):

Jen: I love that the books explore the issue of women and power. In Shadow and Bone, Alina remembers suppressing her Grisha abilities as a child. Using her powers brings Alina a sense of joy and even pride, but also a great deal of ambivalence, guilt and self-doubt.  Can you talk a little about this?

Leigh: One of the questions at the heart of Shadow and Bone is what we give up, what we’re willing to sacrifice to belong to someone or something. I think we often make those concessions—women in particular—without even realizing it, so I wanted to explore that. But I also think Alina’s struggle with power is as much about class as it is about gender. At the beginning of the series, she’s a girl without status or prospects or any kind of real say in her life. So while using her power is a joyful thing, the repercussions of actually wielding influence are much harder for her to contend with.

Jen: Dealing with those repercussions is certainly a huge part of Alina’s story in Siege and Storm.Transformation is another theme in your books. Besides being a writer, you’ve worked as a “glamour and ghouls” make-up artist. Do life and art intersect in this area for you?

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(source: Leigh Bardugo)

Leigh: I worked primarily in beauty as opposed to effects, so most of the time, my job was to make someone look “natural” (now there’s an illusion) or perfect a smoky eye. But my favorite shoots were the ones that combined the beautiful and the bizarre, where I got to bring a little bit of fantasy to life. With both makeup and writing, the goal is to hide the craft, so that the viewer or the reader never has cause to question the illusion. Hopefully, they just get to experience something magical.

Jen: I would definitely call your books magical! And yet, Alina also feels like a real girl. She can be prickly and sarcastic — and funny!  In an interview last year with author Claire Legrand, you described Alina as someone who “struggles to be strong.” Would you still describe her that way in Siege and Storm?

Leigh: I think that may depend on your definition of strength. Alina is far more powerful, more confident, and simply more dangerous in Siege and Storm. Now she has to struggle to maintain her humanity. Being merciful, kind, and just, and balancing those traits with the authority to rule requires a different kind of strength.

Jen: You’ve also written a trio of swoonworthy yet complicated male characters: Mal, the hunky guy next door with a chip on his shoulder, the Darkling – the tortured bad boy – and then, in Siege and Storm, the swashbuckling, wisecracking Sturmhond, who is creating quite a buzz around the blogosphere. They’ve inspired fan art and fanfic. Are you amazed by how invested people have become in your characters?

Leigh: It’s the craziest, most wonderful thing. I am so blown away by the things that people create, by their talent, by the fact that they care enough about the characters and the story to find all of these wonderful ways to bring them to life. I just don’t think there’s any higher compliment. But one of the reasons I like tumblr so much is that we’re all fans of something. I love finding out that I share fandoms with my readers, because then we get to geek out over Legend of Korra or The Mortal Instruments or Game of Thrones together.

Jen: I love your Game of Thrones posts! I can tell that you’re an avid fantasy fan, but I also think about history and historical figures when reading your books. After finishing Siege and Storm, I began to wonder if Alina might surprise us all and stay single, like Queen Elizabeth I. Then last month I saw an intriguing little tidbit that you posted on tumblr:

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Is this wedding you speak of a love match? A marriage of convenience?  Is it reminiscent of the plots of any of these Hollywood wedding movies: The Runaway Bride, My Best Friend’s Wedding or What Happens In Vegas?

Leigh: Ha! Well, I didn’t say it would be Alina’s wedding, did I? Elizabeth is an interesting parallel.

Jen: Well, no, you didn’t say that.  But… hmmm… I’m going to have to think more about this.

(via seventh blog tour stop: YARomantics.  Enter to win a paperback copy of Shadow and Bone and a Hardcover copy of the upcoming Siege and Storm!)

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)