I met Leigh Bardugo!!! (insert fangirl squealing)
I haven’t been able to go to a book signing all year, so I was super excited to hear that one of my favorite authors, Leigh Bardugo, was going to be doing a book signing in Maryland not too far from my house for her newest book Six of Crows. I absolutely adore the Grisha trilogy so I was super excited to hear a while back that her newest book was set in the Grisha universe.
The signing was at 7 so I got there a little early to buy an extra copy of Six of Crows. I ran into Jen from Jenuine Cupcakes who I had met last year and who is the sweetest ever. After buying my book, I found a seat at the back and had a great conversation with the lovely ladies sitting next to me. The signing was surprisingly not that packed, maybe because it was a Tuesday night, but it was great because we all got a great view and could hear everything.
Leigh started out by asking what we would rather hear her read from, a book of poems she wrote when she was 12 or a fantasy book she wrote at the same age. Someone picked the fantasy book so she read some of the book, called Blood. It was really funny seeing Leigh’s personality come through as a 12 year old, her main character was Blood and her brother’s name was Jared. Blood was apparently a master of satire (she thinks she might have meant sarcasm instead haha) and there was another character who was a woodchuch named Lorenzo. She talked some about how when she was younger she always started writing books but never finished them.
She then did a great reading from Six of Crows, which only made me want to read it more! After that she asked for questions from the audience. I’ll recap some of the highlights below:
– Her favorite character to write in Six of Crows was Matthias. She said he is very dogmatic and a drama queen. His character stayed very similar from the first draft to the last.
– Someone asked about her short story in Slasher Girls and Monster Boys. She said she loves writing in our world (contemporary). That it’s a lot of fun to write fantasy where you uncover secrets and magic in the places you live, that magic is possible in our lives.
– Some of her favorite YA authors are Laini Taylor, Maggie Stiefvater and Holly Black, though she said it was hard to choose! (I know the feeling!)
– An audience member asked how she feels when her work is overanalyzed, when people try to read too much into the message or meaning behind her work. She said it can drive her crazy since some people react emotionally instead of critically to the writing. She said people make assumptions about her writing but that’s part of putting work and art out into the world and that she doesn’t have the right to defend against someone’s feelings towards her work.
– She was asked why she chose imperial Russia as the basis for the Grisha trilogy. She said a lot of fantasy is based on European culture and that Russian culture is a little different with very specific imagery that comes to mind when you think of it. She is half Spanish and half Russian/Lithuanian so she always saw Russia as the glamorous oppressor.
-Six of Crows was based more on the Dutch Republic.
-She said it’s important to remember that the books we read and love are not first drafts. The real work of writing a book is the days when you feel like a failure but you keep writing anyway.
– She always thought she would come back to the Grisha universe.
– She talked about the cover design for Six of Crows. The cover designer is the same one who did the Grisha trilogy and the Lunar Chronicles. (I absolutely love the cover – it is so pretty!) The black sides of the pages were her editor’s idea.
– Someone asked her to tell us something about the Darkling that no one knows and she said that he has a sweet tooth (Like me! It was totally meant to be haha) and then made a joke about writing about him again “Darkling after Dark”. Everyone was totally on board with that!
– She said she doesn’t know everything about the characters when she starts, they almost start out as archetypes and then develop their individual voices as she writes.
– She’s working on the next book after Six of Crows, called Crooked Kingdom (what an awesome title!)
– I asked if she listened to music while writing to help set the tone or get her into the right frame of mind. She said she definitely does. The first draft of Six of Crows she listened to a lot of classical ( she said the name of the composer but I can’t remember!) and while she was revising she listened to music like the Pixies and The Clash.
– She likes to make notes on her phone and keeps it by her when she sleeps in case she wakes up with a genius idea that she has to write down – jokes that sometimes she’ll get up in the morning with nonsense notes written on her phone!
-She’s currently reading a book of Angela Carter short stories.
– Someone asked if she keeps up with her other hobbies – she said unfortunately right now she can’t. Writing and touring are taking up all her time. She was supposed to go into the studio with her band in January but blamed it on the drummer that it wasn’t going to work out. 🙂
– Leigh used to do make up and special effects make up professionally and she said she didn’t take her makeup kit apart until just before Ruin and Rising came out, partly out of superstition that her writing career wouldn’t work out. She said it was also kind of a security blanket.
– Someone asked her if she was a Jedi what color light saber would she have – red!!
– She feels Six of Crows is her best work – she feels like it was the hardest to write and that she couldn’t have written it as her first book. She feels that your newest book should always be your best as you keep growing as a writer.
Phew! I took more notes than I thought I did! It was a wonderful experience and Leigh was really generous with her time and in signing all my books I brought. I have my whole collection signed now and I’m so glad I could go! If you get the chance to go see her, I highly recommend it!