Though we’re only a quarter of the way through 2019, I’ve already been incredibly lucky to attend quite a few amazing author events! This past February both Leigh Bardugo and Robin LaFevers visited Kepler’s and I was lucky enough to attend both! Below I’m recapping the events with some of the more interesting talking points from the conversations with the authors!
Leigh was on tour for King of Scars (which everyone pretty much knows as the hype for KoS has been CRAZY) and there was a line that wrapped around the building just to wait for the event, even though you had to buy tickets beforehand. After waiting in line in the cold (well, cold for the Silicon Valley) we entered and were treated to our KoS copies and goody bags for the fan mixer beforehand with the “Grishaverse” passports. Leigh wasn’t in conversation with anyone, instead spending the time answering questions (both from the audience and from a bowl where attendees could submit questions anonymously). See below for some fun facts and interesting insights! (Also please excuse the awkward angle of the photo, we weren’t able to do posed pictures with her so I had to do the awkward over-table pose).
- Exciting news- Leigh has always planned to write a third book in the Six of Crows universe and has an overarching plan for both that series and the Grishaverse!
- First, she needs to write her second King of Scars book and the sequel to her upcoming novel Ninth House before she can write another SOC book (and only if fans want it)!
- She would love to do a cameo in the upcoming SOC Netflix show and her dream cameo would be to run in and die tragically…but most likely she will just be an extra in a party scene.
- She also doesn’t think that the show will be shot in the US, and doesn’t know how the location will impact casting.
- Leigh doesn’t think killing a characters is the most interesting thing you can do to them. She learned from George R.R. Martin that the most interesting thing you can do to a characters is to take away what they think defines them.
- Ninth House takes place among the secret societies at Yale (coincidentally, Leigh also went to Yale and was in a secret society). One day she was walking back from the post office and passed a huge mausoleum and a neo-Egyptian gate that said “The dead shall be raised” and she later found out that the mausoleum belonged to a secret society. The idea for the story of Ninth House has been brewing in her mind ever since.
- On writing: Leigh said that coincidence can only happen when it harms your heroes- if it helps them, readers will immediately sense that it’s false.
- When asked if it’s harder to portray a heist through reading/writing or film, Leigh believes it’s more difficult to depict when on the page because you don’t have the devices film and TV have. During her writing process, she starts with the twists she knows and then moves backwards from there. Readers are smart and anticipate what will be coming next which is why she wanted a break before writing another book in the SOC series.
- Leigh didn’t publish her first book until she was 37 years old. There is always hope! When she initially had the idea for Shadow and Bone she didn’t think it would be any different than her other ideas that she didn’t follow through out.
- Leigh advised that you don’t need an MFA or to go to a fancy college to become a writer0 you just need to write, finish books, finish drafts, find a good critique partner, etc.
- The setting of Ketterdam was heavily influenced by Denmark in the 1700s but also by Venice, London and Las Vegas.
- There were a LOT of questions about how to audition for the Netflix show LOL (which she has no information on)!
Robin was recently on tour promoting her new release Courting Darkness, and I knew I had to be there after binge reading the original His Fair Assassins trilogy a few years ago! She was lovely and you can tell at her heart she is a researcher and a historian (one of the reasons I love her books)! See below from some interesting insights from her chat with Sabaa Tahir!
- Robin had to take a break from writing for a while and Sybella’s voice came to her and said “Hey, you left me hanging!” Then the voices of the girls who were sent to the French court five years ago in the series started talking to her too and spurred her to start writing again!
- Robin loves that with writing, you get to fall in love with new characters without betraying anyone in real life (I would say this is true about reading as well!)
- Sybella was a hard character to write again because she had to write a more “mild” sybella without losing all of her wildness (since she was so wild and feral in the original trilogy, justifiably so).
- Sybella originally manifested by sprinting off the page full formed in Grave Mercy in the infirmary scene, almost like she was channeling someone. Sybella almost took over the first book, so Robin had to be careful to not put her in too many scenes.
- Robin doesn’t feel that she develops characters as much as she excavates them. For example, Gen’s characters from Courting Darkness. Gen did not come into the convent from a terrible, traumatic past like the other girls. Gen is interesting and has a different relationship with the convent because she was taken away from a situation and a family that she loved.
- Robin feels it’s important that not all female heroines have trauma in their pasts. While they were cathartic and healing characters to write and read about, girls who don’t have those pasts need to see themselves in stories too.
- In researching medieval prostitution, Robin found that the profession was much more respected that it is today. They had guilds and were accepted members of society. We tend to view medieval times through a Victorian, puritanical lens and that’s not the case of how medieval times were- things were much more bawdy back then. However, medieval prostitutes still did face assault and the perpetrators were not punished for their misdeeds against prostitutes, eerily similar to how assault cases are often handled this day in age.
- Robin wanted to make her new book accessible to new readers who haven’t read the original trilogy so she kept tweaking things after the first Goodreads reviews started coming in. She did three passes of reviews after the ARCs were released.
- Robin found that her past self did her a favor and left breadcrumbs for her to follow in her new book.
- Try, try and try again- it took Robin 17 drafts to get Grave Mercy right!
- Robin spoke about how in YA, publishers want characters to change over the course of a few books (which usually take place over the course of a few months) when it usually takes years for people to change. That’s why she didn’t want her character Gen to really change that much- it’s not realistic.
- On her research process- Robin says the longer she’s in the world and the more she introduces the harder it is to keep everything straight. It’s also hard for her to get a hold of research books for her writing since most are written in French. Her husband made a longbow so she could see how it felt in real life!
- Robin shared that when we write by hand we use a different part of our brain than when we type on a computer, and the part of the brain that we use when we write by hand is more tied to emotion- fascinating!
Overall these were two wonderful events and I am so glad I had the chance to attend them! Now I just need to get around to reading these authors’ new books! Have you gone to any author events so far in 2019? Let me know in the comments!