I met my Literary Hero Last week!!!!
Today I have a different kind of Blog post for you… If you have skipped through my blog then you would very well know of my love for one author in particular, in fact, it was she who starred in my very first review ever! Her writing was so emotive that I just had to share my adoration with everyone. Who might it be you ask? The one and only author of the Daughter of Smoke and Bone trilogy - Laini Taylor!! Last week I was insanely lucky to actually meet her during her Australian Tour at my old store Galaxy Books and got the privileged task of interviewer where I could ask some of the burning questions that have plagued me since finishing the final in the stunning series Dreams of Gods and Monsters.
I have transcribed that interview for you below, here Laini tells what we can anticipate next and answers questions about the mythology of the series, giving plenty of her personal insight and inspirations. Please beware *spoiler alert* for those living under a rock that haven't already finished the series!
Here we go…
AMBER - What authors or books would you say have influenced you most as the writer you’ve become?
LAINI – Well, there are so many books but there’s one easy answer… because when I was in Uni or even High school I had really stopped reading the kind of books that made me a reader initially and I was reading only ‘literature’ and so when I started to write I was trying to write you know, Literary Fiction and it really wasn’t very much fun, I hadn’t found my voice as a writer and I didn’t have many interesting life experiences to write about I guess at 21, so I didn’t write very much and I ended up going to art school as a sort of “its hard to make a living as a writer so I think ill go to art school”
A - Good plan!
L - Great back up plan right? But it ended up being a really good decision (laughs) so while I was in Art School Harry Potter came out and it didn’t happen overnight but over the next few years continuing to read it (Harry Potter Series) and other young adult fantasy, I didn’t get back into Epic or Adult Fantasy for while but eventually I did and when I started writing again it was like I remembered what I loved as a reader and it just became that much more fun and easier, so, JK Rowling and Harry Potter.
A - Your stories are wonderfully original and I often have trouble placing them in just one genre especially when I'm describing them to customers, how would you describe them and where would you like them to be homed? Romance, YA, Fantasy, Urban?
L - In the states they’re easily YA and that’s one of the great things I think, about YA is that they don’t have to fall into a genre category as I guess now the genre’s gotten big enough that they are starting to sub categorise it but I don’t know ..I mean that’s not my job (laughs) but I remember the difficulty as a bookseller though and I know it’s a huge concern. I love seeing it in fantasy but I think the correct answer would be face out by the register! (This elicits many laughs from those gathered, smart cookie!)
A - How do you balance what you’re reading with what you’re writing? Are you a voracious reader as well as a writer?
L - Well I do what I can, I don’t read as much as I used too because I have a five year old, so I can’t like read at meal times the way I used to but I have managed to be reading a lot recently and I always find time. There have been times in the past where I was really struggling with (writing) a book where I found that I was not in the mood to write and if I was reading something good it would be calling to me when I was struggling with whatever I was writing and I would just be like ‘oh fine, I'm just going to let myself finish this book first’! So there have been times when I could only read short stories or non-fiction I can’t like..
A - Be in both worlds at the same time?
L - Yeah, I can’t risk falling into a novel right now, but that hasn’t happened in a while which I guess is a good sign that my own books have been engaging and I haven’t had a difficult stretch for a while…
A - Speaking of your engaging books and your writing, what are you writing at the moment? We need to know! Are there any follow-ons from Dreams of Gods and Monsters? Are there going to be any spin offs?
L - There is the possibility, while I was writing DOGAM there was a point where something had started to happen that I hadn’t really planned and then it became the book that it did and it grew in the way that it did and I thought, you know, I could see a fourth book that could happen but I don’t think that it would be Karou and Akiva. I just don’t know but I'm not working on that now as I think that would have to really grow in the back of my mind for a while and each book has just gotten bigger and bigger in terms of the world and now this one is gonna be like Oh God (laughs), it’s a big undertaking so I hope that ill write that next book sometime but right now I'm working on a couple of books, mostly my next YA which is really different, its Science Fiction set in Civil War era New York City and I'm also working on the side on an adult book which is much more contemporary with a magical element but is much more grounded and less high fantasy.
A - Well that all sounds very exciting!
L - I also have an anthology coming out in the next few months and that’s fun too..
A - They’re always good, you can dabble a little bit..
L – Yeah.
A - OK, what is the dream season in the Far Isles, exactly?
L - (laughs) No ones ever asked me that!
A - I need it explained!
L - I don’t know, its one of those things that if I were to write a short story about it then it would be very steamy I imagine and I would figure it out, but I have not made myself decide exactly what it is, you know about as much as I do..
A - Oh great (laughs) ill fill in the blanks..
L - It’s what you think it is I guess…
A - I have an idea..
L - (laughs) and that was the section I was talking about when I said the book started to grow, I had never really made myself figure out who Scarab was, when she appeared in Days of Blood and Starlight she only appeared briefly not yet with a name and I didn’t know exactly who she would be. I knew she was Queen but I didn’t know what she would be like and I didn’t make myself decide ahead of time, it didn’t write her CV, I just waited until she appeared in the scene to see what would develop - that’s when she’s standing behind Akiva in the cave, I was curious to see what would emerge and it was one of the most memorable parts of writing the book cause most of what happened in that chapter I hadn’t planned and so all of that – the Dream Season, the Harp strung of taken lives just came to me and I was like ‘what is that?!’ as well as her sense of mission was all what really guided the book from there on out and it was really the sort of thing that I'm always hoping will happen where the story takes over…
A - Mmm it was really cool and you really got a sense of her growing into her own, and becoming the kind of Queen she wanted to be.
L – Yeah, so I thought at that point that the next piece would be hers, the other thing that I didn’t know was going to happen until it happened, on like, the last page was what happened with her at the very end with Eliza, that was surprise.
A - So, the war that we thought we were fighting the entire time, and we weren’t… that’s a pretty big major bomb to just drop at the end of the series! Is that where you would go with Scarabs book?
L - (laughs) Yes I think it would be that book but I don’t know, it’s not in my head yet. I think that all along I knew that with Jael I didn’t want him to have that sort of weight, that he was the only problem in the world – even with all the forces that he marshalled he didn’t seem to be that big of a threat. And I did think for a while that he could have been out of the story really early – I just didn’t want him to be that important.
A - Yeah he’s just so creepy.
L - Yes but I knew there would be some greater context, even when I was writing DOSAB and the creation myths, I didn’t plan for them to come back around the way they did with the Godstars like that but, when things started to come together it was all really fun and I just went with it.
A - Well my mind was utterly blown, so thank you for that!
L - Oh thank you! Well mine kind of was too..
A - (laughs) I just didn’t see that coming!
L - Well I didn’t really either..
A - I'm glad we were both surprised!
L - I always hope that will happen, with myself as a writer I feel that if I know exactly what’s going to happen then it feels kind of dead from the beginning.
A - Right. We all loved Zuzana and Mik and of course the little story that you did for them was wonderful, is there going to be anything more on them or are you leaving that world alone for now?
L - There are so many different little areas that would be fun to explore with short fiction but I also think that fan fiction could fill that niche pretty well.
A - True, outsource to the masses, good plan!
L - Like Liraz and Ziri, I’d really like to see somebody write that.
A - Ok one last question that my colleague Chrissi really wants to know, how exactly does Brimstone make the wishes? Like how does the pain thithe work when you amplify it into wishes? The technical question for the day!
L - Honestly I didn’t really work out all the technicalities. There were times when I was trying to be more concrete about it and when I felt like I understood it but they really slowed down the narrative so much, the mechanics of the magic, that I would always end up taking it back out. So the answer is, he does it Very Well (more group laughs)
Chrissi – Is it something that solely Brimstone is able to do? And that knowledge has been possibly lost?
L - I guess the back story in my mind is that in DOSAB you find out that he was a slave to the Magi 1000 years ago and he would have been believed to be a dumb beast and so in that time he was able to learn magic, to glean magic from his masters before starting the slave uprising in which they were all killed so whatever was left of Magic he had it, he alone.
A - Right, so he just tacked it together as he could?
L - Yes and they burned the libraries archives but maybe he kept what he wanted… that’s another piece that would be interesting to write and a lot of people would like me to write the prequel, Brimstones story and the slave uprising. But again it’s very daunting, it would be a big story!
A - That’s the great thing about your writing, there are all these fantastic elements that come off the sides…
L - Well the other thing I’ve wondered is about the Seraphim Faerers – Razgut and Elazael?
A - Yes!
L - And all the other ones that never came back, where are they?
A – Yes! what happened to them?
L - Well who knows, maybe someday…
A - Thank you very much Laini, you certainly have our curiosity piqued for the moment!
L - Thank you.
For more information on Laini's books please see my reviews here for Daughter of Smoke and Bone, Days of Blood and Starlight and Dreams of Gods and Monsters.
Interview with Laini Taylor Author of the Daughter of Smoke and Bone Trilogy.
Interviewed by Amber Gilchrist with Galaxy Books, Sydney 2/9/2014.