Have you ever heard of the world of the Grisha? If not, you must’ve been living under a stone. On the north pole. For at least three years. Leigh Bardugo, author of the amazing Grisha trilogy, took time to Skype with her Dutch fans today. The event was to celebrate the release of Val en Verlossing, the Dutch translation of Ruin and Rising. The event was hosted by the Dutch publishers Blossom Books and the fans could buy the limited edition of the book, one day before it’s release date (Monday Feb. 16th).
The event’s location was Het Huis Utrecht, which was brand new to me, even though I’ve been living in Utrecht (the Netherlands) for about 5 months. It was a great location and we were welcomed with A-MA-ZING Grisha banners, the lovely Blossom Books ladies and the announcement that NOW we could finally buy the third book of the series in Dutch. It’s a limited edition, that includes a very artsy poster 🙂
When everybody got their books and goodies (Blossom Books has these amazing bags), we all could get something to eat and drink, talk to the other fans, make pictures with posters and dress up like Grishas and finally join the cake contest (which has been won by Rosa). The cake/pie was good! Please get me a recipe?
Around 3:40 we all went to the theater where a big screen decorated the wall. We sat down and the Blossom Books ladies talked, laughed and asked us some question. The Blossom Books promotion team from 2014 was there too. After a while, we got pretty exited, because at 4 pm sharp, Leigh would be online at Skype to chat with us. It was Q&A-ish, and I wrote most of it down (thank you, girl who’s name I already forgot, for the economy notebook and pen).
(This review is written from the POV of somebody who’s only halfway through the first book, Shadow and Bone, but already in love with the series. During the Q&A, we talked about it, as if everybody had already read book 1 and book 2. So there will be NO spoilers for the last book!!)
NOTE: I paraphrased what Leigh was saying during the Skype interview, so the following answers aren’t quoted or precisely what Leigh said.
“Hi Leigh, what kind of Grisha would you be?”
“Oh I think I’d be a Heartrender. When somebody would say something I don’t like, I could just shut them up *giggles*. But, at heart, I think I’m a Fabrikator.”
“Do you have any writing habits?”
“They actually change every book. This afternoon, I’m leaving for Mexico. I’ll be in a big house with other people and we’ll talk about books, take a break, walk around. I’ll do revisions in a bunker. I think the weirdest thing is that I don’t write at a desk. I’d rather use my bed or a chair. Oh, and yeah, my favorite snack is broccoli. Raw broccoli. One day I was going out, walking with my dog, and when I came back, I noticed there was broccoli in my hair. But, whatever, people already think I’m the crazy author lady.”
“Are you team Mal of team Darkling?”
“Hahaha *laughing out very loud*, you’ll know after the third book. It’s like, I’m not one team. I’m team everybody. When I write a Mal scene, I’m team Mal. When I write a Darkling scene, I’m team Darkling. But yeah, just read the third book and you’ll know.”
“Do you create the love interests yourself?”
“No, I don’t. I create characters, not love interests. Sometimes they just become like that. There are a lot of different kinds of love. I didn’t mean to do the love pentagon. Or live triangle. Whatever you may call it. I loved it though. But at the end, you will either love it or hate it. That’s okay, you know how to find me on social media 😉 Oh, and by the way, after the American release of Ruin and Rising, I talked about it on Goodreads. You can find the discussion about love interests over there. Only read it once you’ve finished the whole series. And just so you know, one of the survivors (*gasps of the audience*) might get his/her own book.”
“Do you feel guilty when you kill a character?”
“NO. *the audience laughs and cries and smiles and is full of emotions* Not really. I do feel said and it sometimes is painful. But the characters are created for the story, for the plot. I use them. But you know, one time, when I was on a flight writing the third book, a though occurred to me. Like: what if the plane crashed and I die and my laptop dies. Nobody will know how the story really ends. But yeah, I could do a lot worse things to a character then just kill them.”
“The book contains some Dutch/German-ish words. What about that?”
“Well, my new book, Six of Crows, will take place in a new world, thought it’s still Grisha. It’s inspired by 17th century Holland. It’s very different and the city in the book is unlike anything of the Grisha world.”
“The name of the Darkling is revealed in the third book, did you know his name all along?”
“Yes, I did. I just didn’t think you guys would make such fuss about a name.”
“How did you come up with the names?”
“Some just showed up. They were just there. But Ravka was renamed about 10 maybe 15 times. I wanted it to sound like Russia but I also didn’t wanted it to sound like Russia. Guess it does sound like it a bit too much.”
“Why are you inspired by Europe?”
“It’s not 1 to 1 actually. I looked up a lot of colonial cultures. I did name some cities after Dutch cities. You guys will probably think they’re stupid.”
“Will there be a movie or a series?”
“It’s been optioned for a movie by Dreamworks *happy audience* but nothing has happened yet. It takes so much money to make a movie. But they’re maybe making a series of it, since fantasy series are on a roll right now. A very good screenwriter is working on it right now.”
“What character would you like to see alive?”
“Hahaha I don’t think I’d choose the Darkling. Bye bye world it’d be then. I think I’d choose Nikolai. He’d take me to the best party.”
Throughout the whole Skype conversation, it became clear that Leigh has a small (read: very big) crush on Nikolai. She was fangirling all the time and every time somebody dropped his name.
“What about your favorite scenes from the first two books?”
– Okay honestly I didn’t write down this question, I didn’t wanted to spoil myself since I haven’t finished the first book and still have to start on the second book. Sorry!
“Do you have to cut scenes?”
“No, I usually don’t. Most of the times, my books get bigger after revisions. There’s only one scene in the third book that I had to ‘cut’. I just summarized it. It is better that way.”
“Is Aline based on you as a person?”
“Yes, there are parts of my in Alina. But not too much. She’s an outsider growing up and so was I. Her sense of humor is also the same as mine. BUT no character is too much of me, you know, they all have a part of me.”
“What is the last book you read?”
– Well shit I didn’t hear it. Comment if you did! It was magical realism.
“Are there any other characters based on people you know?”
“A lot of them! They start off as a friend but later they start living their own lives. I even tried to ship two of my friends through two characters in the book, but it didn’t work. But they should date, they’re perfect.”
And then one of the Blossom Books ladies started off a discussion about internet and people talking shitty about authors on Twitter and such. I think this is something that needs attention, and so did Leigh. As an author, she knows what the real deal is.
“How do you feel about the discussions on the internet?”
“I think everybody should have an opinion. Everybody should be able to write a review about a book. But please don’t bring it to the author when it’s really harsh and unfair. There was somebody who wished to see me dead, she tweeted me, because she didn’t like something about a book I wrote. I replied to her. And she was just so surprised I read it. And I do, you know. People can be so mean and harmful. They think authors are lazy and are chilling on a beach, living the life, being rich and all. But that’s not true. We’re hardworking people and such comments hurt. Writers cannot make EVERYBODY happy. And if you don’t like the ending, write Fanfiction. But don’t send death threats to my door, please.”
I think Leigh touched a important subject, because it happens. Like: the ending of Allegiant. I ranted about it on my blog too. But I never wished Veronica to be dead or anything. I don’t mean her any harm. I loved the book over all. I was just mad because of what happened. Not because of what Veronica MADE happen. There’s a difference. Anyway, Leigh took this book as an example, because there was a lot of fuss about Allegiant and I agree with her. Authors are artists. They write a story, and it can’t possible make everybody happy. Period.
“What’s the best thing about being an author?”
“Interacting with you guys!”
“Do you get a lot of fan art?”
“Yes I do and I love. Sometimes I feel like the drawings are the real characters.”
“Will there be more Grisha books?”
“No, Six of Crows will be in the Grisha world, and so will it’s sequel, but after that, the world will be done for a while. I created so many rules, it’d time to discover something new. I will also publish a horror story in August next year.”
“Are you ever coming to the Netherlands?”
“Oh yes I want to! My roommate from college was Dutch so the country feels special to me. Maybe it will happen.”
Blossom Books added that maybe it WILL happen. And maybe even THIS year. I will keep you updated of course!
“How far did you plot?”
“Before Shadow and Bone I’d never finished a book before. I just wrote it and sent it to my publisher and she said: I feel like this will be a trilogy and that feeling I shared with her and so it happened. To me it felt pretty much impossible at first, since one book was already such a big challenge. But halfway the first book I kind of already knew it would be trilogy.”
“Do you have any tips for aspiring authors?”
“Yes, 1) always finish your book. You better have on complete messy draft than five perfect beginnings that will never be finished, 2) read outside your comfort zone, read another genre, read something your friends reads, keep reading, 3) there’s no expiration date to you writing talents. It’s never too late.”
“How do you create a plot?”
“I always have a starting point. And sometimes, while writing, I just have to talk a long car ride or just have to sit down. I write about 12 important scenes and events, then put them together to create a story.”
“Ravka is so detailed! How did you do that?”
“I did A LOT of research. Even if it was just about dictator ship or farming, I did it. Research is SO important. It will make everything feel even realer!”
“Do you have any regrets about the first two books?”
“Not really. Maybe only the limitations I created. I just wanted Nikolai to have a floating fortress but I tried everything and nothing worked. It was just impossible for him to have one. It wasn’t logical. That’s way I’m creating new worlds with new opportunities.”
“Do you have any general life advice?”
“Wow *smiling*. Tough question. I think, like, it took me so long to not care about other people. Loose some of your self conscience. It helps. There was a girl once, who asked be about how to cover up a birth mark on her leg (make-up advice). I gave her some tips but eventually told her to just put on shorts and say: whatever. Do what you’re afraid of. People don’t care. They only care about their selves. Oh, and eat broccoli. Stay hydrated. That’s all.”
And then the hour was almost over. Time flies when you’re having fun. One last question though…
“IF there comes a movie or series, who’d you like to play your characters?”
*laughing* Dreamworks told me not to answer that question. There’s almost no possibility that what I say will actually happen but yeah. Maybe the Darkling could be played by the guy that plays Sirius Black. I know some others, but they’re all TOO OLD. I don’t know any younger actors. Nikolai will be the hardest because he’s perfect. If you guys can come up with somebody, please let me know.”
Again, she started fangirling and giggling. Pretty clear. It’s a crush.
And then it was over. We thanked her, she thanked us, we thanked her, we thanked Blossom Books and all went our own way.
Blossom Books, thank you so much for the event!
Leigh Bardugo, thanks for the awesome books and the chat!
And of course all the people I met: thank you so much! I have probably forgotten all of your names (nothing personal, I suck at remembering names), but please let me know who you are down below in the comment section. Twitter, Instragram, Youtube or website, everything will do! 🙂
If you want to buy her books, please order them here! There are still some limited editions of Val en Verlossing 🙂