On the 10th, I posted about my blogaversary and the opportunities to win ARCs of GRAVITY by Melissa West and INBETWEEN by Tara Fuller, critiques, and a $20 Amazon gift card. I also promised interviews with some awesome YA authors, and today we have our third. Remember: Commenting on this post can get you entered for these prizes. Or if you prefer not to be entered but want to comment anyway, you can do that as well. Just let me know in the comment if that’s the case.
Meet our third guest, the brilliant Jay Kristoff, author of STORMDANCER!
(Releases September 18th from Tor Teen!)
Pre-Order @ Amazon
1. First off, thank you for agreeing to interview! Welcome! You describe your book as “telepathic samurai girls & griffins in steampunk feudal Japan,” which is, let’s face it: freaking brilliant. You say this idea came to you in a dream, but for such a genius idea, you have to tell us a little more about how (you think) you came up with it!
Thanks for having me, glad you like the sound of it!
I’m not really sure where STORMDANCER came from. I tell people “the idea’s shop” because I’m something of a smart-ass, but being a smart-ass in someone else’s house is poor form.
The idea for a griffin with broken wings came from a dream I had whilst was querying my first novel (a very angsty vampire book that will never see the light of day). I’d wanted to write a steampunk book, but Victorian settings had been done already, and done a lot. So I started thinking about the other incredible cultures that could be found on our little blue/green speck during the 19th century, and hit on Japan. I’ve been a manga/anime fan since the days of Marine Boy (and if you can remember that, daaaaamn you’re old). As far as I know, no-one had really done it before, and it seemed like a collision between Japan and a steampunk aesthetic could be really fun. And awaaaaay we went.
2. For readers as interested as I am, you can read the beginning here. Can you give us any other teasers?
There will be some more info about the country, history and clans of Shima going up on my website in a few weeks – www.jaykristoff.com
The tab will be called THE WORLD. It’ll be in the nav. It’s not there yet, though, so don’t run off with the clickey-click because you’ll come back disappointed and we don’t want that, no.
3. If your main character ruled the world, what would she do first?
Think seriously about abdicating, lol. Yukiko never wanted to be a hero or a leader. One of the central struggles across the LOTUS WAR trilogy is Yuki coming to grips with the responsibility and power of being a heroic figure, having people depend on her and look up to her. She starts the novel as a sixteen year old, and having the fate of the entire country resting on your shoulders at that age (hells, at any age) is going to leave a mark.
If she DID rule the world, I’d like to think she’d ban dubstep. I hate dubstep, man…
4. Another character question: If some random boy started flirting with her, how would she react?
Depends on how much game he had, I guess. She’s not one of these Mary Sue YA heroines that’s hopelessly in love and can’t function/think rationally without The Boy(s) around. But, she’s not a wall-flower or a wilting violet either. If she likes what she sees, she’ll take a bite.
She’s plenty of things, but shy isn’t one of them
5. What was the most interesting/weird/terrifying moment of this whole writing/editing/publishing process?
Interesting – working with two editors simultaneously (the mighty Pete Wolverton at Thomas Dunne/SMP and the phenomenal Julie Crisp at Tor UK). Getting two takes from two sets of eyes (one male, one female) was simply awesome. Loved, loved LOVED it.
Weird – holding my book in my hand for the first time. It was surreal. Two years work, countless hours, blood and sweat and sleepless nights, all coalesced into this little bundle of cardboard and paper in the palm of my hand. So strange. Words can’t describe it. It was 11am and I hit the bourbon.
Terrifying – when I realized that STORMDANCER was out in the world on its own, that people were going to love it or hate it or “meh” it, and there was nothing I could about it. I’m really proud of the book, and early reviews are really awesome, but still, the idea of my baby being out there alone was scary. There be dragons. And internet trolls
6. Plotter or pantser?
Mostly pants. As the trilogy has gone on (I’m working on book 3 atm) I’ve had to plan more meticulously to ensure everything ties up at the end. But I’m a total pantser at heart. My favourite twists in STORMDANCER are the ones I just stumbled across as I was writing – no way in hell are readers going to pick a twist if the author didn’t even know it was coming.
7. After you wrote STORMDANCER did you always have a feeling it was good, or were you thinking to yourself “OMG OMG OMG. This sucks! No agent will ever represent this.” If the latter, how did you overcome this?
I hoped it was good. It felt good. But it wasn’t until my wife read it that I was confident I might be able to snag an agent – that was the goal with STORMDANCER – I never thought it would actually get published, but I thought if I could snag an agent, that would serve as some kind of validation that I didn’t completely suck as a writer.
But my wife read it, and she squeeeee’d (she seldom squeeees) and she cried (she NEVER cries) so yeah, I thought it might kinda not suck.
8. Was this your first completed novel? Did you always know it was going to be a trilogy?
My first novel was the aforementioned angsty vampire book (nobody sparkled, everybody died). I kinda learned how to write a novel writing that one. And querying it taught me how the publishing industry worked. Writing it was totally invaluable, and it still contains the best chapter I think I’ve ever written, but yeah, it’ll never see the light of day. It would burst into flames, like any self-respecting vampire should.
As for a trilogy, no, I thought it would be kind arrogant of an unknown prat from Australia who’d never had so much as a short story published on the back of a toilet door to write a trilogy. I figured agents would be like “Who the HELL does this guy think he is?” Yukiko actually died at the end of the original version of STORMDANCER – pretty hard to write a trilogy when your protagonist is dead. But, my agent talked me out of that one (thankfully – the new ending works far batter).
9. Tell us about The Call.
I was lucky enough to have multiple calls – I ended up getting four offers of rep on STORMDANCER, which was kinda nice after eating rejection-flavored shite for a year. The call to Matt (the agent I eventually signed with) was quite casual after all that build-up – I had my list of questions written down like a good little OCD person, but really we just ended up chatting. I really think the purpose of that first phone call is to make sure the author is not a Crazy Person™.
Don’t be a Crazy Person™.
10. Anything else you’d like to add?
Thanks to anyone planning on reading STORMDANCER. Whatever time you can give to this little sandbox I’ve made, I love you for it.