Exclusive YALL Fest Interview with Leigh Bardugo

Last week at YALL Fest, our correspondent Ellie got a chance to chat with Leigh Bardugo about the Grisha trilogy: The characters! The challenges! The fandom! THE DARKLING.

There are no RUIN AND RISING spoilers in this interview, but if you haven’t read up through SIEGE AND STORM, there may be some major spoilers. Also, if you haven’t read SIEGE AND STORM, what are you waiting for?!

Ellie and Leigh

Ellie and Leigh

First off, how is RUIN AND RISING coming along?

Leigh Bardugo: Well, the first draft was finished back in February and we’ve done a couple rounds of revisions since then. Now we’re basically just going into copy edits, so it’s done!

Any warnings or clues for your readers?

LB: Not everyone is going to make it out of the series. Those that do survive will be much changed. And many, many secrets will be revealed.

Which book is the Grisha series was the most difficult to write?

LB: Easily book three. Writing book two was incredibly intense. It was the first time I’ve written on a deadline and I was making the world much more complex. There were more characters and the political dynamics of the world came much more into play. But book three… books one and two are really about opening doors and book three was really about closing doors. It was really hard to say goodbye to the characters and also to make everything so final, despite the fact that I had plotted out the book literally years before. To bring those things into to being was a much more difficult process than I had anticipated.

As you were writing, did you leave your characters possible for alternate outcomes or were you set in their journey from the very beginning?

LB: I always knew where they would end up, but there were certain characters– There was a character in book two– I talk about this a lot and people always get frustrated because I won’t reveal who it is. There was a character in book two that I intended to kill off, but I just couldn’t. That was because that character still had a big journey to go on. That was really the only surprise of the series. But for the most part, even despite that, the ending has never budged and I think I always knew where they needed to end up, why they needed to be there. Alina’s story is– I’ve always known where the heart of her story is. If she had gone someplace different, it would have betrayed all of the things I’d set up to begin with…. That was very vague. (laughs)

When I first got into the books, I knew very little except that people were in love with The Darkling. When I found out the truth about The Darkling, I was shocked. Did you expect people to fall in love with him? How do you feel about that?

LB: Any time people connect with your characters, it’s kind of this wonderful surprise. I was not very active in the YA world in terms of readers and fantoms. I had no idea what that would be like or even to hope for it. In that way it was really gratifying but… (laughs) Honestly, if I didn’t want The Darkling to be appealing, I would have just pulled a Vader or a Voldemort. It would be like “Oh! My evil is making me gross and disintegrating my nose!” I want him to be appealing because I feel like that’s what charismatic leaders and dictators are like, otherwise nobody would follow them.

What is the most unique fan art, costume, gift, etc that you have seen or received?

LB: It actually happened on this last tour at our first stop. Two people cosplayed Alin and the stag, but they based the costly on fan art by Irene Koh. I was like “Now, if somebody writes fanfic of this, we’ll basically open up a wormhole.” That was incredibly fun, especially because I love seeing readers interact with each other. It’s fun for me to chat with them, but it’s cool for me when people get each other to read the books or plan things together. I’m part of the fan community. I’m a member of the Game of Thrones fandom, The Brotherhood Without Banners, and those people are a really big part of my life. So it’s really cool for me to see other people being brought together by the books. Again, something I never really anticipated, but it’s really fun to witness.

Is there anything you would have done differently if you were to redo your writing process for the series?

LB: I wish I could go back and eliminate some of the self-doubt I experienced. That’s something that kind of perches on my shoulder throughout the books. I’m getting better about that, but there are still days when I feel like I’m not capable of finishing a book or I have no idea how to do it; I don’t know how I managed it before and I’ll never manage it again. There are some magic and alchemy that I can’t recreate. There was so much of that early on and I wish I could go back and reassure that past Leigh that I could do it. That’s why whenever I talk to aspiring writers, I tell them to let go of that voice inside that says you can’t and tell them that they can.

Are you set on the fantasy genre or do you plan on writing other genres as well?

LB: Whatever I write will have some element of fantasy or the supernatural in it, but there’s a good chance I will deviate from secondary world fantasy and write some horror. Who knows what else.

If you had to enter the Shadow Fold, what would be your survival strategy?

LB: (laughs) I would curl up in the fetal position and I would sing softly to myself. Start singing “Soft Kitty.”

Would you want to be a Grisha and if so, what class would you be?

LB: I would love to be a Heartrender, but I think deep down, I’m really a Fabrikator. I’m kind of crafty but also I’m most happy when I’m sitting in my workshop all by myself. I don’t think I would be on the front lines.

What’s next for you?

LB: I can’t really talk in too much detail about what I’m working on right now. I’m hoping to be able to make an announcement soon. I can tell you that it is fantasy. I was just at a writing retreat and I spent the first week of that retreat drafting this new book. I’m very excited.

Do you have any last messages for your fans?

LB: A very heartfelt thank you. I feel very, very grateful. I have basically my dream job and you’re the reason for it, so thank you.

Exclusive Comic-Con Interview with SHADOW AND BONE Author Leigh Bardugo

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My fourth and final interview of the Comic-Con weekend was with Shadow and Bone author Leigh Bardugo, who was there to talk Siege and Storm, the sequel to Shadow and Bone and, of course, to be a fangirl just like everyone else there!

Like The Maze Runner author James Dashner, this was her 2nd visit to Comic-Con, and she finds it as enjoyable as everyone else, especially getting to meet other authors that she adores as well as the chance to “get exposed to things that are out of the YA world.” 

Warning: mild *spoilers* below

This time, I got to chat with her a little more about Siege and Storm, and then about the third book, Ruin and Rising.  One of the first questions that came to mind was about Sturmhond and what we can expect to see in regards to his role in the Big Palace.  Of course, she was quick to remind me that we don’t know what his situation is at this point, stating “Well, we don’t know if he is still alive.  He could be alive, he could be dead, he could be held prisoner.  We don’t know.”  I paused for a moment, realizing my faux pas and told her that I am just assuming he is (basically because how could you get rid of such a wonderful character, right?)

Read the rest of this very intriguing interview after the jump.

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Vote for SHADOW AND BONE’s The Darkling in YA Crush Tourney

(credit: Sabra)

(credit: Sabra)

Now that The Darkling has defeated Dante Walker, he has been pitted against Under the Never Sky‘s sexy, hot-headed, and vulnerable Peregrine, or Perry, in Round 2 of this year’s YA Crush Tourney.

You can vote for The Darkling now right here.

Vote for The Darkling in the 2013 YA Crush Tourney

(credit: Sabra)

(credit: Sabra)

The Darkling will be representing the Shadow and Bone series in the YA Crush Tourney, so it’s time to show our support and vote for him!  He’s up against Dante from The Collector.

Emily from Falling for YA will be giving the argument in favor of The Darkling and why we should vote for  him.  Here’s some of what she points out:

The Darkling is the ultimate bad boy

 “He had a sharp beautiful face, a shock of thick black hair, and clear gray eyes that glimmered like quartz. I knew that the more powerful Grisha were said to live long lives, and Darklings were the most powerful of them all. But I felt the wrongness of it and I remembered Eva’s words: He’s not natural. None of them are”

We see something in him that is reflected in ourselves. Those dark thoughts that creep in to your soul at night, the loneliness that overtakes when we are truly alone, the longing to change the world for good or better, to leave a mark. The Darkling feels those same things.

The Darkling is:
♥ Powerful
♥ Complex
♥ Lonely
♥ Sexy
♥ Deep
♥ Charming
♥ He is the villain we love to love!
To read the whole article on The Darkling and to VOTE, click here!

Leigh Bardugo on Female Leads and “Competent” Boys

EW’s Shelf Life caught up with Leigh Bardugo and author friend Veronica Roth (Divergent) to discuss YA lit and what makes their characters tick!

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Here’s a pretty spectacular snippet!

The love interests in your books, Tobias/Four and Mal set readers’ hearts aflutter. What qualities do they have that reflect what you look for in real-life partners?

L: I’m about to give the least sexy answer ever. Ready? Mal, and the Darkling, and Sturmhond all have one thing in common: they’re spectacularly competent. They’re really good at what they do. I guess I also love the sense of honor at Mal’s core. He’s someone you’d always want at your back in a fight. I feel like that’s true for Four, too.

V: I LOVE that answer. I think competence is extremely sexy, actually. And it’s what Tris is attracted to when she sees Four jump on a train for the first time — she admires his physical competence, and the ease with which he does it. I also think something your boys have in common in Shadow and Bone is that they feel like whole people — you don’t spend a lot of time dwelling on their looks, and instead you focus on the things that make them tick, their strengths and their flaws and their desires. That, I think, is what makes them appealing to readers, even if they can’t quite put their fingers on it — they feel real. I tried as hard as I could to make Four feel as real as possible, so this is something I think about a lot.

With Four specifically, he’s always appealed to me because he’s utterly convinced of Tris’s strength even when she isn’t. He respects her and respecting women is sexy, I don’t care what anyone says.

L: Hold up, who says respecting women isn’t sexy?

V: I mean, no one in particular, but sometimes you see love interests who completely disregard the main character’s opinions or feelings or even clearly expressed wishes, and I think that is the antisexy. There’s a difference between, say, impulsive or protective and straight up controlling and disrespectful, and that’s something I try to be pretty careful about. I think you’ve done a good job with this, actually — Mal wants to take care of Alina, but he’s not pushy or condescending about it. Two thumbs up, Bardugo.

L: Okay, now I’m the one blushing, Roth. It’s funny, I said that both Mal and Four would be people you’d want at your back in a fight. I think they’d say the same for Alina and Tris. That trust, that respect is fundamental. I like alphas. I like bad boys. I like a guy with a protective streak. But all of those archetypes fall apart if they’re just running roughshod over the heroine.

Fear and darkness are themes in both the Divergent and the Grisha trilogy. Do you ever have nightmares about the characters/scenarios in your books?

L: Ha! No but I had a nightmare about a bird pecking its way into my mouth after I read Divergent. (I did once dream that I was at King’s Landing, one of the locations from Game of Thrones. The Pet Shop Boys were playing.)

V: And I have been haunted by a particularly horrifying image at the end of Siege and Storm since I read it. I don’t want to spoil it, but you know what I’m talking about. So I guess we’re even!

L: Is it wrong that I’m pleased? I’m pleased.

Read the full interview here!

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.

siege-and-storm-ch-heading-1
siege-and-storm-ch-heading-2

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!)

Leigh Bardugo’s SIEGE AND STORM Blog Tour Stop #2

Leigh Bardugo, author of Shadow and Bone and the upcoming Siege and Storm, is now on a blog tour every day until the release of said book, and on this second stop, she answers some questions about Siege and Storm, so be warned, there might be slight spoilers in this Q&A.

Alina finds herself in the rather unique position of having to design an original kefta to wear so as to set her apart from the other Grisha. If you were in her shoes, what might the kefta you design for yourself look like?

Oh wow. I love this question, but I’m so torn. I’d either go Heartrender red or just take my chances and dare to wear black.

We get to meet a new and magnificent mythical creature in this second installment. Is there any one magical or mythological creature that has always fascinated you most?

I desperately want a direwolf, but I would gladly settle for a baby dragon. I think the gorgon always fascinated me. There’s something very poignant about that myth and the way she’s defeated.

Let’s say you arrive at the Little Palace and petition Alina to let you aid her. What type of position do you think would best suit you and what skills would you bring to the table to assist her with her many and varied problems?

Alina would probably send me packing. I have no skills! Maybe I could tell her stories and sing her songs? I can whip up a pretty good apple and apricot tart. Beyond that, I’ve always thought I’d make an excellent fool what with the capering and falling down. I’m certainly willing to wear bells, but I can’t juggle or play an instrument so I may be out of luck.

Alina’s life gets significantly more complicated and dangerous in Siege and Storm. If she were to stand in front of a mirror and admit to her own face one of her greatest fears knowing speaking it aloud would ease some of her burden, what might she say?

In Shadow and Bone, I think Alina most fears that she will never find her place in the world, that she will always be an outsider, that the one person who truly knows her will leave her behind. Those fears are still there in Siege and Storm, but she’s also contending with terrible guilt and the burden of tremendous power. I don’t know that it would be as simple as articulating a single fear.

Mal and Alina have known each other almost their entire lives. What would Mal say is one of his fondest memories of them together growing up?

This question made me really think about the memories that come up for both of them over the course of the series. So often they seem like stolen things—sneaking away to play in the meadow, or the brief moments in the dom cart. Keramzin wasn’t a joyful place, so the happiness they found they had to make together.

The Darkling continuously haunts Alina throughout this story, trying to get her to see things his way through both veiled and obvious threats as well as soothing words. If he was to stand before her to try and convince her of his cause one final time but had to do so in the form of a single question, what would he ask her?

I’m not sure he’d ask anything at all. The Darkling isn’t big on requests.

(via second blog tour stop: Supernatural Snark.  Go there to enter to win a paperback copy of Shadow and Bone and a Hardcover copy of the upcoming Siege and Storm!)