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 #4

Leigh Bardugo makes a stop at The YA Sisterhood in blog tour to talk about the differences between the Siege and Storm ARC (Advance Reader Copy) and the final version that will be released on June 4, 2013.  One in particular note (and slight spoiler!) is the fact that at some point during the story, we end up in The Darkling’s bed chamber.  Why are we in The Darkling’s bed chamber, you may ask?  All I can say is pre-order the book  so that you can find out as soon as it’s released.  (And also, if you pre-order the book, you’d be helping us reach the 2nd goal, in which we’ll get a new scene from Shadow and Bone told from another character’s point of view!  Who doesn’t want that?)

Let’s read what these differences are:

1. Obviously, the major change is the cover. I actually love the fact that both of my ARCs have covers radically different from what we ended up with on the final. With Shadow and Bone, the ARC cover was in the running for the final and I still have a soft spot for it, though I prefer the cover we ended up with. (To see some of the other cover directions that were discussed and discarded, click here) The cover of the Siege and Storm ARC was just a placeholder, but the feel of it is still in keeping with the series.

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2. The Siege and Storm ARC features the map from book 1, but the hard cover will have an expanded map created by Keith Thompson showing more of Fjerda, Shu Han, and the lands across the True Sea.

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Shadow and Bone map

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Siege and Storm map

3. There are two different chapter headings in the ARC. The chapter headings with the antlers were first created for Shadow and Bone, but they felt a bit too Celtic and medieval for the world of the book. Somehow a few of them found their way into the ARC of Siege and Storm. (My best theory is art department pixies.) They were created by April Ward and I have to say, I’m actually really glad they got to see the light of day.

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4. My favorite difference between the ARC and the final version of the book is the change we made in the description of the Darkling’s bed chamber.

This is how it appears in the ARC:

The chamber was hexagonal, its dark wood walls carved with swirling vines and magical beasts. Above the huge canopied bed, the domed ceiling was wrought in smooth black obsidian and spangled with chips of mother-of-pearl laid out in constellations.

In the final:

The chamber was hexagonal, its dark wood walls carved into the illusion of a forest crowded with slender trees. Above the huge canopied bed, the domed ceiling was wrought in smooth black obsidian and spangled with chips of mother-of-pearl laid out in constellations.

It’s a small difference, but a significant one. Each major section of the Little Palace has a distinctive dome, but beyond that, the original description could refer to just about any other room in the building—and my editor called me out on it. Without realizing it, I’d used a kind of narrative shorthand to describe the chamber. It was a lost opportunity, a moment to offer a bit more insight into a character and to give the reader a deeper experience of the world. I spent quite a bit of time deciding what the Darkling would choose for the walls of his chamber, the first thing he’d see when he woke in the morning and the last he’d look at when he went to bed at night.
In some ways, it’s hard not to cringe over the ARC’s imperfections. We tweak bits of language, find a better word, discover things that could be cleaner and clearer. Still I’m glad the ARC exists. It’s a window onto where the story was—the same in its essentials, but unique in its details.
What do you think of this?  As for me, I’m wonderfully grateful for insights like this into the book revision process and I think it would be great if authors did this more in regards to readers who only have the ARCs and don’t bother with getting the final copy.

(via fourth blog tour stop: The YA Sisterhood.  Go there to enter to win a paperback copy of Shadow and Bone and a Hardcover copy of the upcoming Siege and Storm!)

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!