The InterviewAs with most book events, we kicked things off with an interview. It was an event celebrating the release of the Dutch translation of Six of Crows, so most of the audience had yet to read it, and the conversation was more focused on the Grisha series.
Six of Crows and The Grisha
- In Six of Crows, the country of Kerch and the city of Ketterdam were based on the Netherlands. Leigh came up with the idea when she mentioned the city in the Grisha series, that it would be an relatively small trade city with a massive global impact – so she was reminded of 17th century the Netherlands and global influence we had.
- As she’d spent a couple of days in the Netherlands by the event, she loved how much like a storybook our cities look. The architecture and canals (particularly in Utrecht) were beautiful and sometimes she felt like she was right in Ketterdam.
- She had not visited the Netherlands prior to writing Six of Crows – mostly due to the pressure of deadlines in the YA lit world. She was originally hoping to. But she had assistance on checking the Dutch stuff from her college roommate (who is Belgian) and the guy who wrote the Dothraki and High Valyrian languages for Game of Thrones. He’s a friend.
- Her favorite character in Six of Crows is Nina – and if Leigh were a Grisha, she’d want to be a Heartrender (because getting people to shut up and go to sleep when she doesn’t want to deal with them sounds like a pretty good idea). In the Grisha series, her favorite was Genya, but her affection for the character grew immensely due to the fan response to her.
- If she had to spend the rest of her life on a deserted island with one of her characters, she’d choose Tolya – NOT Nikolai. She said she’d probably kill Nikolai out of frustration after a week, whereas Tolya would be more of a useful, strong but silent companion. (FOREVER LOL)
- Her most hated character was the Apparat – she was going through difficult personal stuff while writing the last two books and wrote her frustration into scenes with the Apparat. But she did get push back from her editor by Ruin and Rising – that she needed to figure out this dude’s motivation. (Leigh walked around the neighborhood talking to herself to figure it out, and liked making evil MUWAHA faces when speaking like the Apparat.)
- In the very first rough outline of Siege and Storm, Nikolai was supposed to die by the end of the book… but when she started writing him, she couldn’t do it. (THANK GOD.)
- After writing the sequel to Six of Crows, she’ll be writing a couple of other things, but in a couple of years we might see a book/series for… Nikolai. Alone. With his own love story.
Writing and Publishing
- Leigh started inventing stories as a kid, because she was an only child and would tell herself stories to keep herself entertained. She’d walk or bike around her yard talking to herself – and still does this now and then when she’s stuck on plot issues (though now she’ll put on a Bluetooth headset to save face).
- Though she always wanted to be a writer, she never managed to finish one of her stories until she was in her thirties – when the idea for the Grisha came. Two of her biggest pieces of writing advice: finish the draft (it will undoubtedly suck but do it anyway) and talent doesn’t have an expiration date.
- She doesn’t see herself ever writing something without magic in it. She’s just not interested enough in the real world. Her love for fantasy came when she moved to a new, not ideal school and her mother got remarried – it was a rough time and fantasy allowed her to escape.
My VERY IMPORTANT and Very Silly Question
I actually worked myself up to ask a question – having blazed through 260 pages of Six of Crows the day of the event so I’d have read it, one thing stood out to me. She mentions hutspot about 5 times. BUT HAS SHE TRIED IT? Leigh complimented me on my American accent (♥) and admitted that no, she hadn’t, but she’d seen pictures and it looked good. But more people had asked her about it so now she was worried. She was planning on trying it the next day.
For the non-Dutch readers among us: this is a traditional Dutch meal that’s kind of you love it or you hate it. Most people that love it grew up with it, so it has a certain nostalgia factor around it. But I personally… don’t like it. (Shoulda stuck with the stroopwafels! 😉 )
Mashed potatoes, carrots, and onions… … yum…?
The Grisha GamesFollowing the interview, two fans were selected to go against Leigh in a trivia challenge. There were three categories: the Dutch YA book market, Leigh Bardugo, and the Grisha series. Leigh rightfully pointed out that she SORT OF had an advantage on two of those categories. The moderator was surprised she knew the answers to some of the questions (interview quotes from years ago, minor details from the books (what color a coach was, what some of the Dutch/Russian words meant), but Leigh kept pointing out… she wrote the books. ^^; Still, at the end of the day, she was tied with one of the fans and conceded the victory – and it was fun to watch.
The SigningThen it was time for the signing. The crowd of around 180 was split into two signing groups, and we were all supposedly only allowed to bring two books. I kept myself to this rule but everyone else broke it, pretty much, so the wait was long (aaand I don’t have all my books signed). But Leigh was fabulous and really took the time for all her fans. At the end of the event, it only lasted one hour longer than planned (till 11 pm) – it could have been much much worse.
The Ice Court PolaroidThey had a set up for Polaroid pictures, so that was kind of a cool gimmick! The backdrop was the map to the Ice Court, and so I finally have a shot together with my book club lovelies Mel and Daisy. Daph unfortunately couldn’t come 🙁
The Breakout GameOne of the awesome bonus events was a breakout challenge – we got locked in the vault below the bookstore and had to answer trivia questions about The Grisha to find clues in lock boxes, eventually getting us to the key to break out of the safe. It was pretty hilarious.
As we were the last group to go, we got paired up with two other participants – good thing too, because they were INTENSE fans who knew EVERY DETAIL, while for me it’s just been years and there have been hundreds of books since. We did fail after the fourth question (out of nine – IT WAS SO HARD) BUT: we got the furthest the fastest. So though we lost, we were sort of defacto winners. (BOOYAH.)