To say that Jaime and I were excited to be chosen to interview the authors when they came to Milwaukee for the Fierce Reads tour is probably a major understatement. We were SUPER LUCKY to get to sit down for a few minutes with Leigh Bardugo, Ava Dellaira, Emmy Laybourne, and Jennifer Mathieu to ask them a few questions. Jaime and I decided to record the conversation to make sure we didn’t miss anything but I have to let you know…there is still stuff on there that didn’t come through. With that said, we did capture all the important stuff and here we go!!
Describe your story in 5 words. (We may have been a bit lenient on the number here….)
Leigh – Soldier. Summoner. Saint. Who will rise?
Ava – Laurel writes letters to dead people.
Emmy – Velocity. Danger. Blood. Family. Love.
Jennifer – Friday Night Lights meets Easy A.
Where did the idea for your story come from and what made you think you had to write it?
Leigh – The idea for Shadow and Bone began with the idea around darkness as a place. Typically darkness is used as a metaphor but my thought was, what if it had a physical form and all the monsters you imagined were real and you had to fight them. The truth is that when I got the idea I had lost faith in my ability to finish a book as I had been starting for a long time and then would stop. I wrote down the idea and then I was on the phone with a friend – she recommended I reapply to grad school and I said I want to write this book and I am going to do it in the next 6 mos. It took me a bit longer but I did it.
Ava – I first got the idea for the title sitting at a stoplight on the way home from work along with the idea of dealing with personal grief by writing to famous dead people. The way that it can provide a sense of belonging especially for those who have been through difficult things. Listening to a favorite song and feeling like it was written just for you and feel connected to something bigger than yourself. Like you know there are so many other people listening to and loving that same song. As for why, I didn’t consciously think about it at the time but as I was writing, I was dealing with my own grief over losing my mother. As Laurel’s letters helped her heal, the book did the same for me.
Emmy – Monument 14 tells the story of 14 kids who are trapped in a superstore while civilization collapses outside the gates. I got the idea based on two loves I have – One is survivalist thinking. One of my favorite games I would play with guys I was dating is I would say “We have 6 hours. An asteroid will hit Manhattan, where do we go, what do we do, and what is your plan?” I also love superstores and I always spent a lot of time shopping at Target when my kids were little. The whole time I would be casing the joint for how I would survive if I got stuck in there. As to why, I was fascinated by male teenage power dynamics and wanted to explore it with the backdrop of something really intense and dangerous. This seemed like a great way to do that.
Jennifer – I always wanted to write a small town story – I’m fascinated by them even though I never lived in one. I also wanted to do multiple points of view. I always thought that one of the hard things about small towns would be if you are on the fringe or are the “weirdo”. I also know that one of the ways we tend to ostracize girls is by shaming them for their sexuality, rumors about behavior, etc. Regarding why I had to write it – this story wouldn’t leave me alone. I found myself wondering and imagining the world and what it would be like.
What was your favorite scene to write and why?
Leigh – I love the party scenes. I love writing about food and I love the idea that I can have an unlimited budget and throw whatever party I want. In the first book, I loved writing the Winter fete. In book two, when they visit the nobleman’s dasha and he grows all the miniature trees. There was less in book three because they are at war but I tried hard not to make the series unrelentingly bleak. I really like moments where people are pausing to love beautiful things – like mountains and rivers or beautiful gowns. That is the part of fantasy I really adored growing up and I didn’t want to lose it in the process of trying to be gritty. This is where Ava mentions she wants to go to a party where the mermaids pass out oysters….ME TOO!
Ava – Laurel starts out very alone. She’s at a new school because she doesn’t want to be known as the girl whose sister died and she doesn’t know anyone. She meets some girls and has a crush on a boy named Sky. Laurel writes a letter to Amelia Earhart and dresses up as her for Halloween because to her, Amelia Earhart is bravery. Laurel also gets her first boyfriend in that scene. In her imagination they are flying and she lets go and goes off on her own. It was fun for me to write because it was Laurel taking off into herself for the first time.
Emmy – The scene where Dean washes Astrid’s hair is a favorite. The first draft of Monument 14 was long and meandering and my editor said the backstory and daydreams had to come out. At first I took it all out and the notes back to me said (in BOLD) “Where is my hair washing scene?” My (now) editor loved that scene and I was glad that we ended up putting it back in.
Jennifer – My favorite scene to write was with Alice and Kurt. It involves Christmas when he gives her a gift. Kurt has had a crush and admired Alice from afar and when they finally begin to get close, he says “I love the real Alice, not the fantasy Alice.” I didn’t want the story to be boy saves girl – I wanted depth to the relationship.
What are you currently reading? What book boys make you swoon?
Leigh – I don’t swoon very often but my top two – Lymond from The Lymond Chronicles by Dorothy Dunnett and Sean Kendrick from The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater. I don’t normally swoon over YA boys but he talks to the horses and no one else…basically my kind of guy. I am currently reading a book recommended by Emmy called When you Reach Me by Rebecca Stead.
Ava – I’m currently reading Ruin & Rising….It’s soooo good. All of the men in the book. The too clever fox. Will from His Dark Materials series.
Emmy – Beauty Queens by Libba Bray it’s so funny and Leigh recommended it to me. Matthew Clairmont from A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness. He is an adult and I’m like Leigh…I’m too old to like the seventeen year olds. **This opened up a conversation about the dating age rule. Everyone remember that you are able to date someone half your age plus seven years and you are still within the acceptable age difference. 🙂
Jennifer – I just bought a memoir called Popular. It looks really good and I’m excited to read it. The boy who always made me swoon when I was younger is Johnny K. from The Outsiders. It actually explains a lot of the men I dated in college.
So there you have it! We ran out of time to ask the rest of our questions but we had so much fun talking to this group of authors. If you haven’t had the chance to read their books, definitely check them out. We owe a big THANK YOU to Daniel at Boswell Book Company (@boswellbooks) for hosting the event and if you live in or near Milwaukee, definitely stop at the bookstore!
We also had the opportunity to live tweet during the event so if you search the hashtag #fiercereads, you will be able to see all of the conversations via @erinlee20 and @jaimearkin.
The kind and wonderful publicity people over at Macmillan have graciously offered up a pack of finished copies of these authors titles for one winner – US ONLY – Please make sure you get your entries in!
But that’s not all!! If you saw all of our pictures you know we had a ton of extra books signed so we’re giving some of those away too!!
We’ll be picking two winners – US ONLY – Make sure you get your entries in!
We’ll be picking two winners – US ONLY – Make sure you get your entries in!