Sunday, 8 November 2015

Interview with Leigh Bardugo on her Magic and Mayhem Tour

I interviewed Leigh Bardugo at Seven Stories in Newcastle on Friday 23rd October as she toured the UK, promoting her latest novel Six of Crows! She was as lovely and beautiful as always. And thank you to Nina Douglas, Leigh's UK publicist who set the interview up! 
Both Nina and Leigh are pretty amazing women. 

How has the response to Six of Crows been?

Leigh: It’s been great! It’s been amazing, we debuted at number 1 on the New York Times Bestseller list and we’re still in the top five which is really exciting. I guess more importantly its been really exciting to see people discover Six of Crows who hadn’t even heard of the (Grisha) trilogy, and to see people who really like the trilogy take the leap into the new story.
Whenever you put something new out there’s sort of a fear because it’s a little different, or maybe a lot different, are people going to come along with me? Its meant a lot to me to see people pushing it and promoting it, especially on Tumblr and booktube.

How do you think your love of Slytherin affects how you write your characters?

I for one feel Slytherins are misunderstood and often portrayed in not the most flattering light and that is because history is often written by the Gryffindors. Or the Ravenclaws. I think that the goal is not to make a character likeable. It’s to make the character real. I think Slytherins have an appreciation for all the shades of grey in a given character. Ask Regulus Black, he understands.

Do you identify with any of the crows more than the others? I feel as if you’re like Nina on the outside with some Kaz on the inside.

Kaz is much smarter than I am. There’s a saying that no character can be smarter than the author and that’s really not true. Authors have a lot of time to think and plan and it looks as if Kaz is thinking of these things on the fly when really I’ve been sitting there banging my head against the wall for a couple of weeks.
I wish I had more of Nina’s confidence. But I think she’s the most like me in that I’ve spent my life being told I was too big, too loud, too much of one thing or the other. So I wanted to create a character who was all of those things and really didn’t care.

When did the idea for Six of Crows come about? Was is during the Grisha trilogy, or after?

Well, I always wanted to write a story in Kerch. And I had this idea for Ketterdam where Nikolai went to university or pretended to go to university. I always wanted to set something there because its almost like the anti-Ravka. Ravka is isolated and old-world,  really struggling economically and hasn’t industrialised at all whereas Kerch is prosperous, modern and cosmopolitan. Its on the cutting edge of everything, so I always wanted to set a story there but I didn’t know what story it was going to be. Then I was driving down the street and I saw a billboard for Monuments Men (film -2014) and I was like, I don’t want to see that, but I do want to re-watch Oceans Eleven! And all of a sudden I realised oh my gosh, I want to write a heist story! That’s what I’m going to do! All of these characters that I’d had steeping in the back of my head came to mind and I knew I was going to bring them together and put them on this team, this is exactly the right story for this city. That was the evolution of it.

Did you do a lot of research to build Kerch, like you did in researching Russia to build Ravka?

Research is one of my favourite things because we’re all readers, and research is basically ‘oh, now I have to read for a while. What a chore.’ So I did a lot of research on the Dutch Republic of the 1700’s and Amsterdam and the way that it developed. But also New York, old New York/ New Amsterdam. Also, Victorian London and Las Vegas. There’s all a little bit of them in Ketterdam. I think I was little bit more adventurous in my world building this time, which was kinda fun.

Was it hard writing from so many points of view, after just writing from Alina’s in the Grisha trilogy?

You know, that wasn’t the hard part. I really enjoyed writing multiple character points of view, because if you got tired of a character or if their story got too dark or too sad, you could switch gears.
I found the heist to be the hardest part to write. That was the thing that took the most work and was most challenging. The release of information and the flashbacks was difficult, it’s a much more complex book than the Grisha trilogy. It’s not linear in the same way.

Do you miss writing the characters from the Grisha trilogy?

I missed them early on in Six of Crows because I hadn’t gotten to know the Crows as much as I knew the characters from the Grisha trilogy. And I find I don’t get to know characters, well apart from Matthias, I knew him from moment one, he’s very easy to write, he’s a big blonde drama queen, we understand each other. But the other characters took me a while longer, I really got to know them through the process of writing them and getting to know their voices. I think any time you try something new there’s that getting-to-know-you stage, which isn’t always comfortable. It’s a process, sometimes you can ask ‘why can’t I hear him/her?’ It takes a while to get to know them .

Can we expect to see any of the old characters from the Grisha trilogy in the second novel?

I just turned in the first draft of the sequel to my editor and right now, yes there are some cameos, but I don’t know if they’ll stay, so I’m not promising anything, she’d could just draw a big red X over all of those pages.

I adore Winter Prayer, your song written about the Grisha trilogy. You stated you’d written a song for Six of Crows, what is it about? Can we expect to hear it?

The thing is recording a song takes a lot of time and means calling in a lot of favours from friends, and particularly because I’m not a particularly good musician. I did write the beginning of a song but I don’t know if ill ever record it. My life at the minute its basically tours and deadlines. Someday I wouldn’t mind recording it. It’s a lot simpler than Winter Prayer, which was a big orchestral, sweeping thing. This is more of a folk melody.
I did put lyrics in Six of Crows, there’s a scene with Nina and Inej with a song so I tweaked a few lyrics from a song from my band and put them in.

What can we expect from Six of Crows 2? (Now named Crooked Kingdom!)

You will get Wylans point of view.
Some ships will sail…and some will be wrecked upon the rocks.
Basically all of the powers of the world are descending on Ketterdam, trying to discover the secrets to this drug. Essentially, the future of the world is going to be decided on the streets. There are some old rivalries that will resurface, some new enemies and some new allies. For now, its all mostly contained within the world of Ketterdam, particularly the Barrel.

Can we expect any more folk tales?

Maybe. At some points. What I would really like to do is a collection of stories from each of the countries. From the Wandering Isle, Noyvi Zem, Ravka, Fjerda, I would love to write some Fjerdan folk tales, they’d be so dark!

If you got a tattoo to commemorate your books, what would it be?

I always feel like its tempting fate to get a tattoo of something from the books. What if the book didn’t do well, and then you had to look at it foreverrrr! We did design a tattoo; it’s the Crow and Cup that the Dregs wear. I honestly don’t know, but there’s a saying that Tolya and Tamar use in the Grisha trilogy which I really love. Its yuyeh sesh (despise your heart), ni weh sesh (I have no heart), the first part of the phrase has been with me since college, it was in a survey of African cultures and there was a phrase in Kikongo which means despise your heart and you would say it before you went to battle. I loved it so much and it stayed with me since I was 20. I think that is thing that would be most likely to end up tattooed on me. Despise your heart, which tells you all you need to know about me!

Is there a character from another book that you’d want to pick up and put into your world or a character from your book that you’d want to pick up and put into another world?

Hmm, sometimes I want to put all my characters in a cute contemporary, so nothing bad will happen to them. But then I think about putting Kaz into a Stephanie Perkins novel and I’m like oh my god, he would steal all their money and break into all their houses.
Actually someone on Tumblr has been putting all the characters into the Hogwarts houses and she put Inej in Gryffindor and I was thinking about how much that made me a little bit sad because that’s the childhood she should’ve had. She should’ve grown up and been safe somewhere. I would put Inej somewhere safe, post ( Harry Potter) books, when its peaceful.

Any book recommedations?

Illuminae by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff.
The Young Elites and The Rose Society by Marie Lu, it just keeps getting better and better.
The Sin Eaters Daughter by Melinda Salisbury.
I really love Victoria Schwab’s books, I think they’re fantastic.
Gene Yang, he wrote American Born Chinese and Boxers and Saints. They won a tonne of awards. Start with Boxers and Saints, its so good, it’ll destroy you! Then read The Shadow Hero because its charming and fun and happy and it’ll cheer you up.
Oh! And Rainbow Rowell, I love everything she’s written. Eleanor and Park is still my favourite but I really loved Carry on, which has just come out.

Thank you very much for allowing me to interview you Leigh! 


  1. That's so awesome you got to sit down and interview Leigh! I loved this interview. I'm excited to see the cameos she mebtioned. Poor little Inej and Leigh wanting to protect her, so sweet. Great post!!!

  2. I loved this interview! My favorite character is Inej, and I hope nothing happens to be little baby. I need to read those books she recommended! Leigh is my new author Queen.

  3. Omg I love the question about appreciating Slytherins. All those book recommendations are also <333. Awesome interview, and I hope you enjoyed the tour! :D

    - Aila @ One Way Or An Author

  4. This page is permanently open in my computer. I refuse to let it go.

  5. I don't know how I missed this post when it was posted. Anyways: LOVE this interview. It's making me so excited to finally start Six of Crows (after I finish Winter and the Saga volumes that are waiting for me at the library).