Hello, hello! I just won’t shut up this week, but a lot of things have been going on lately that I’d like to share with you guys.
First of all, this past Saturday, I went to the DeKalb County Public Library in Decatur, GA for Leigh Bardugo’s King of Scars tour. This is the second time I’ve met Leigh, and she is just as gracious, beautiful, and funny as ever.
I had wanted to get there early to explore the library, especially when I learned it’s the most awarded library in the GA Pines system, but I’d taken the train to get there, and it was Super Bowl weekend in Atlanta, so things were both packed and a bit slow. But I got there in time to get in the signing line, get my copy of King of Scars, and go into the auditorium for the Q&A.
The room was small, the setting intimate, and it wasn’t long before Leigh came out, and everyone erupted in riotous cheering. There were even a few cosplayers, with an Inej cosplayer who was absolutely incredible, but I sadly didn’t get a picture. It’s always so awesome to see people support an author who truly deserves it.
The Q&A lasted for about 30 minutes, but it seemed to take no time at all as Leigh alternated asking questions from the audience with witchy humor and also drawing questions in a bucket people had written down because they were too shy to ask her (very cute).
Now, I’ll try to relay what was asked and her responses as best as I remember them. Keep in mind that I am paraphrasing, and this shouldn’t be considered an official interview or anything, but I thought people would like to know what was discussed.
Q: Can you tell us anything about the Grishaverse TV show on Netflix?
Leigh was very graceful answering this question, emphasizing that she isn’t allowed to say much but that fans can consider the series to be “the most expensive, well-produced fanfic ever.”
They aren’t melding the timelines of the Grisha trilogy and the Six of Crows duology because it just wouldn’t work. Instead, while the Grisha trilogy is occurring, audiences will be getting a prequel of the Six of Crows world and characters before officially meeting them. Eric Heisserer, the showrunner, writer, and producer of the upcoming series, is a big fan of the books, and he and Leigh are determined to keep as true to the spirit of the world and the characters as possible while also bringing something new to the table, like greater diversity in the Grisha trilogy. They ran through what S1 will look like together, and Leigh said that if the show is allowed to accomplish half of what it wants to, it will blow fans minds. The writer’s room is supposed to convene soon to get started on writing the series.
Q: What inspired you to write Ninth House?
Leigh was so happy to receive this question, since it will be her first original work outside of the Grisha trilogy, as well as her first adult novel. “Now when I say ‘adult’,” Leigh joked, “I don’t mean I’m just adding smut. No, no, no. A lot of people are confused about that.”
Ninth House was inspired by Leigh’s time at Yale, as well as the underground occult societies that Leigh claims to have once been a member of. Her protagonist, Alex Stern, is a high-school dropout who gets a second—and only—chance to attend Yale, but as she takes advantage of the offer, she realizes she is now surrounded by people who have a million second chances. As she deals with the power, privilege, and darkness that accompanies this great school, she also must figure out her place in it, even as murder and magic lurk just beneath the surface.
“This one wound up darker than I intended. I had a lot of stuff to work through,” Leigh laughs, “but it’s also a homage to Yale, too. It’s a truly amazing school, and I feel so grateful to have the opportunity to have attended it.”
Q: What was the inspiration behind the Darkling’s character?
Leigh proudly stated that the Darkling was based on every villain she’d ever had a crush on (which, valid!). “But he’s a bad man!” Leigh insisted, mock sternly to the crowd. “A very bad man!”
Q: What advice would you give to writers who are starting out?
Leigh’s common but important advice to give is to finish a draft. Growing up, she always had plenty of ideas for stories, but she always struggled to finish anything. The excitement would be there, and then it would latch onto the next idea, and so on and so forth. (As a writer myself, this spoke to me personally because I have an unfinished first draft of a novel going right now.)
She also advised to get out of your comfort zone with what you read. The more you read, the more examples you have of how to write, what works and what doesn’t, and your writing repertoire will grow.
Also, read diversely. Read #OwnVoices authors and support them. Doing so will also help you write diversely, not for the pat on the back, but because diversity is reality and it creates better stories. As writers, we should also understand and accept that some stories do not belong to us, and we should not be the ones to write them.
Q: How do you get your characters to sound different, especially when writing different POVs?
Leigh nodded, confessing her characters always sound the same during her first draft—with many of them sounding like her. “But that’s boring, right? We definitely want to write characters who are different from us and also from each other because that creates far more interesting moments.”
What she does is she writes her first draft and she allows her characters to all sound the same. The distinctions in how they talk and think are all part of the revision process. “As you revise,” she said, “you’ll get more of a feel of how your characters talk and interact with the world. With every line that sounds true for them, you get closer to who they are.”
Q: Have you ever played D&D?
Leigh said she hasn’t played much because she didn’t have a lot of nerd friends growing up. However, she has read the Dragonlance novels, which is a blending of D&D and Tolkien.
Q: What character did you have the most trouble writing?
Leigh joked that they all gave her trouble at one time or another. “They all want to be difficult and give me a hard time!” But overall, she said it was David Kostyk in the Grisha trilogy because he’s a Fabrikator, and she does not science.
“I had to go to many of my friends who were smarter than me to ask them science questions about how I could write him in a believable way,” Leigh said. “There are times I had in my draft him saying something like, ‘It happens this way because science + magic = ta-da!'”
David, she went on to say, was the answer to the myth that you can’t write characters who are smarter than you. You absolutely can.
Q: What character surprised you the most?
Leigh said, without a doubt, Nikolai surprised her the most because she’d initially only created him as a privateer character than Alina meets, but then he would not shut up. He ended up being a refreshing break from the angst of the other characters with his cheery demeanor and self-assuredness, but King of Scars is going to show what’s going on underneath a character like that. What wounds are they not tending to because they’re trying to be optimistic for everyone else, and what happens to them as a result?
So now I’m officially scared for King of Scars, yay!
There were a few more questions, but these were the ones that stuck out to me. I hope you all enjoyed them as well, and now you know to ask some different questions if you get to meet her during the tour, haha.
As if my Saturday wasn’t busy enough, I also went to Barnes and Noble on Sunday (and Ulta), and accidentally did a book and makeup haul. I haven’t done book hauls in a looooong time because I feel too guilty about how many books I have that I haven’t read yet, but I had a gift card, okay?
So let’s see what I got in addition to King of Scars:
I must be in a Beauty and the Beast mood because A Curse So Dark and Lonely by Brigid Kemmerer is a dark and imaginative new retelling. Echo North by Joanna Ruth Meyer is a bit looser, but it involves a girl striking a bargain with a wolf who attacked her as a child to live with him for a year in exchange for the safe return of her father. The house the wolf lives in is underground and enchanted, a young man is trapped in a mirror, and the girl has to figure out the wolf’s enchantment before time runs out.
And then of course, there’s Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim by David Sedaris, which was at a huge discount and contains one of the first essays by him I ever read, so I’m happy to finally have it in my collection.
As for the makeup, it’s all Colourpop products, brought to Ulta at last. I love their matte lip glosses because they look great and stay on, and they’re only $6.50 apiece. I’m excited to try their eyeshadows, which are all $5 apiece. Here’s a closer look:
I love Colourpop because it’s good makeup that doesn’t break the bank. I honestly hate whenever I go to buy makeup, and I walk out with two little things for $50 or more. It’s ridiculous and part of the reason I don’t wear makeup every day despite liking to experiment with it. My favorite of the bunch so far is Set to Stun, but all of these blend well together (and will blend with many others that I have), so I can’t wait to wear them out and about.
Well, that’s all, folks! I promise I’m not always this exciting, haha. But I’m happy to share these experiences with you!
Are you going to see Leigh on tour? What are you most looking forward to? Are there any other authors you’ve seen on tour lately? Have you tried any Colourpop makeup, and do you have any recommendations? Please do tell!