The Interview: Bookbag Talks To Leigh Bardugo

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The Interview: Bookbag Talks To Leigh Bardugo

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Summary: Olivia thought that Crooked Kingdom was all that she could want from a book and more, so she had quite a few questions when Leigh Bardugo popped in to Bookbag Towers to chat to us.
Date: 4 November 2016
Interviewer: Olivia Tierney
Reviewed by Olivia Tierney

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Olivia thought that Crooked Kingdom was all that she could want from a book and more, so she had quite a few questions when Leigh Bardugo popped in to Bookbag Towers to chat to us.

  • Bookbag: In Six of Crows the heist plot to steal Bo Yul-Bayur and the plan to destroy van Eck's reputation as well as secure the crew's freedom in Crooked Kingdom, were both very intelligently constructed with great detail. How did you go about planning what was going to happen? Did you create a few different plots based around scenes that you knew you wanted to take place in the book? Or did you stick to one plan and tweak it slightly when you thought of other ideas?

Leigh Bardugo: First of all, thank you for all the kind words.

When it came to building the heists, I really wrote to particular moments: those moments were usually where I wanted something to be revealed to the reader, or where there was something I wanted to be revealed to the character.

Sometimes the moments were a particular fight scene or a particular skill that I wanted demonstrated. I think the thing about a heist is that it is only interesting if you're invested in the characters.

So my goal was for each character to have something to overcome, personally, in order for the heist to be accomplished. Sometimes they failed in that, or sometimes they would succeed in that, but that's really what those moments had to hinge on, it couldn't just be choreography. So I started with those moments and worked backwards.

  • BB: When you first envisioned the plot and the characters from The Six of Crows Duology, which character's backstory and personality did you develop first? And which character did you develop last?

LB: The first characters that I really knew were going to be in the crew were Matthias and Nina – and Kaz.

I had wanted to write the story of a witch hunter early on, while I was working on the Grisha trilogy. I really felt you could understand why someone who lived to the north of a militarized magical state would be necessarily frightened of, and consequently hateful towards the Grisha. So I wanted to write from that perspective. And of course I wanted to write a survival story where these two characters fell in love, though I had thought perhaps it might be a novella, or a short story, or some bonus content and I had put it in the back of my mind.

I also had this other character Dirtyhands: I had been trying to figure out where he belonged; if I was going to write a story for him, or who he would be. And then when I got the idea for Six of Crows I suddenly realized, I'm going to bring all these characters together and force them to work with one another on this heist.

So really Matthias and Nina were heavily in place and Matthias's voice was so strong so early, that he was very much the easiest character to write. Where somebody like Kaz – and even Nina – took a little while to develop.

  • BB: In the Grisha Trilogy the story is told from Alina's point of view whereas in the Six of Crows Duology the story is told from the all of the main characters' points of view. Did you prefer writing the story from multiple points of view rather than just one? And out of all your wonderful characters, whose perspective did you most enjoy writing from?

LB: I don't think I have a strong preference. I think that the story really dictates which POV you're going to write in and as soon as I knew I wanted to write a heist, I knew that I wanted to write in multiple POV, because you get to play with the release of information.

I do think that I enjoy some of the things that you can do stylistically in third person but I also think that there is potential in first person too, and it just depends on what story you're telling and who the character is.

I will say that when it comes down to writing a battle or fight scene, there are definite perks to being in third person, because you can move around in a way that you can't in first person. When you're writing a battle scene you're either writing in one character's head or you're writing from a general's perspective where you can see the whole field. And I think there is something to be said in being able to transition between those two things.

As far as favourites go, I think that Matthias was the easiest to write. I think that Nina was the most fun to write. I think Kaz was the hardest to write because he's the smartest and when I wrote Crooked Kingdom, Wylan became one of the most enjoyable to write because I knew the least about him, and so I got to unravel him in a way that I didn't get to do in Six of Crows. I really enjoyed writing him; he is so much younger in a way, even though he has had a hard childhood, it hasn't been difficult for him in the same way as the others. He was sheltered from the world and he comes from a background that makes him a lot more like teenagers from our world, than the rest of the Crows.

  • BB: If you could spend a day with one of the characters from either The Grisha Trilogy or The Six of Crows Duology, who would it be, why and what would you do?

LB: It has to be Nikolai because then you could go and travel on one of his flying ships; I think that would be great. Tamar and Tolya would be on his crew; it would be a lot of fun. I think that Jesper is a close second; he'd be a great time. Though I'd keep my wallet close—but then again I'd do the same around Nikolai too!

  • BB: Finally, with Nina's love of food and specifically waffles, I have to ask: what are your favourite waffle toppings?

LB: Oh man. You know I'm a bit of a waffle purist, I think the waffle should be able to stand on its own. It may come as a surprise to many, but as much as I like waffles, I don't love them. The waffles in Six of Crows and Crooked Kingdom were inspired by Stroopwafel, which isn't actually a waffle at all, it's a cookie. But saying that, I do like a waffle – I share a sweet tooth with Nina.

  • BB: That's fascinating, Leigh and thank you for taking the time to chat to us.

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