Our readers know all three of us are big fans of the Grisha trilogy here at The Midnight Garden. If you read K’s Siege and Storm review yesterday, you know you’re in for a thrill of a ride when the book is released next month!
We had the opportunity to sit down with author Leigh Bardugo recently to chat about her novels. Since the books are influenced by Russian culture, we thought it’d be fun to meet up for drinks at a vodka bar here in Los Angeles!
Here’s a recounting and paraphrased transcript of the highly giggly conversation below.
~ Wendy and Tonya
A Conversation with Leigh Bardugo
Wendy: Peeps, I just want you to know that when Leigh breezed through the doorway, I nearly didn’t recognize her because she did NOT show up in a fur hat with a jeweled walking stick.
Leigh: It’s funny, because logically, I know you don’t look like a cartoon, but I was still surprised that you don’t actually look like Wendy Darling.
In between bites of duck pizza, crudites, and Moscow Mules, the three of us talked about Siege and Storm, as well as how Leigh’s life has changed since she became an author.
Wendy: Where were you when you first got the news that you’d hit the New York Times bestseller list for Shadow and Bone?
Leigh: I was in Houston for a signing. I’d just gone to get my hair done and it was enormous. My editor called and asked if I was sitting down and I thought, “This is either going to be really good or really bad.” It turned out to be really good and I pretty much broke down crying. So there I was with my giant hair, sitting on a bench at an outdoor mall, in 100 degree heat, freaking out all of the shoppers. My agent called and we cried. Then I rang up my mom and we cried some more.
Wendy: Aww. I always say it’s like being an Academy Award nominee–the words “New York Times Bestselling Author” will follow you around for life.
Leigh: I remember flopping down on my bed in the hotel room and feeling completely serene, thinking, “This is all I need.” And then I just had to laugh at myself. Even in that moment I knew it wouldn’t last. All the doubt and anxiety would creep back in soon enough, so I did my best to enjoy it while I could.
Tonya: It’s unusual for a debut to hit the list. Was your experience writing book two different from book one?
Leigh: I actually wrote S&S before S&B was released, which was a blessing since I didn’t have any outside opinions to sway me. It was certainly a more intense experience since it was the first time I’d written a book on deadline.
Wendy: Do you miss your old day job at all? In my former life, I worked with a lot of make-up artists and it’s not always a fun job–you’re always the first to arrive and the last to leave.
Leigh: Not a bit. laughs The hours are long, and you’re always on someone else’s schedule. I still love product and I still make my friends up for Halloween. It’s almost as if, now that makeup isn’t my job, I can enjoy it again. Oh, and I have occasionally wielded my brushes on my Fierce Reads tourmates. Sometimes I can’t resist.
Wendy: Lucky ladies!
During our chat, we enjoyed martinis and appetizers during happy hour. The clientele was interesting to say the least, and at one point a very drunk man pulled up a chair and started chatting us up. (Wendy had no qualms about lying through her teeth and introducing herself as “Eloisa.”
We were pretty relieved when a hostess stopped by to invite us into the famed VodBox, which is a freezing cold room full of vodka where we all put on big faux fur coats and hats. Each of us tasted three different kinds of vodka before making our way back to the lounge and getting back to business.
Tonya: You have a very passionate and vocal following on Twitter and Tumblr. What’s your experience been like with your readers?
Leigh: Just amazing. I don’t understand where all of these talented, awesome people came from, but I’m so grateful for them. Some of the fanart and the graphics and the edits—so insane! And the coolest thing is when I find out that we have fandoms in common and we can all geek out together.
We talked about a lot of books and pop culture at this point. Tonya and Leigh bonded over Game of Thrones and Kresley Cole, while Wendy offered up a recommendation for a paranormal romance with hot dragon sex. (Okay, so there was a lot vodka.)
Wendy: Let’s talk about Alina for a minute. I confess I put off reading the first book for awhile because I saw so many raves for the book, but I also had a few friends who thought she wasn’t strong enough. But then I read it and I thought, “What are you talking about?” Not every girl has to start out full of self-confidence or knowing exactly what to do all the time. I love Alina’s character’s story arc, particularly the direction it takes in Siege and Storm.
Leigh: Why thank you! I think it’s fair to say that Alina has very little agency at the start of the Shadow and Bone. She’s an orphan and a refugee and a member of the peasant class. She’s never had the experience of power and she really wrestles with it. But I wanted to create a heroine who had to struggle to be strong, who had to grow into her power, and yeah, who made bad choices sometimes.
Tonya: Just like real girls. The male characters get a lot of attention (deservedly so), but the female characters you write are also amazing.
Wendy: Oh, Genya! I found her so intriguing in S&B but she just broke my heart in S&S.
Leigh: Her character arc is probably my favorite to write. She plays a bigger role in the third book…you’ll have to wait and see.
Wendy: Ugh, TEASE. I have threatened to wrestle that manuscript away from you, and I haven’t given up on that idea.
Tonya: I’m getting in your car when you drive over there.
Wendy: Um. Your world-building is so rich and evocative–as you know, I love how much thought went into all those details.
Leigh: They’re really fun to write. But sometimes I really just want to write a book where my character can go have a peanut butter sandwich.
Tonya: Haha! That’s hilarious, but I know what you mean.
Wendy: And you’re a singer too, right? I saw that you and your band used to play around LA a lot.
Leigh: We aren’t as active as we used to be since we’re all doing different projects, but some of us got together to record a song I wrote for S&S called “Winter Prayer.”
Wendy: It’s just lovely! I hope it makes it into the film’s soundtrack. Omg, what if it’s covered by Florence Welch for the credits? *flails*
Leigh: I. Would. Die.
Wendy: The movie is going to be awesome, especially with all the attention to detail you put into the books. You have a good team behind it with HeyDay Films since they produced Harry Potter–I mean, I’m not always crazy about the idea of book to film adaptations, but I think all the signs point at a fantastic one for yours.
Tonya: Are you going to be touring for this book?
Leigh: Yes! You can find a list of the cities I’ll be visiting on my website. If you’re in the LA area, you should definitely come out to the pre-launch party. Free champagne, Wendy, ahemhem. And I’ll be announcing a few more appearances soon.
Wendy: I don’t know if I can find a Tsarpunk get-up in time, hah. Although I actually do have a fabulous furry hat and embroidered coat.
What can you tell us about Ruin And Rising, which will be out in 2014? Is there a FOURTH attractive man in it? I hope not, because I’m going to appear to be so fickle if I keep switching teams.
Leigh: Actually… there is a new guy on the scene. I certainly find him attractive, but it’s possible you’ll just think he’s crazy. Beyond that, it’s almost impossible for me to talk about Ruin and Rising without giving away spoilers.
Wendy: Well, damn. There goes my reputation. Thanks so much for meeting up with us, Leigh! It’s been a pleasure.
Tonya: We’ll have to meet up again for Ruin and Rising!
Wendy: Only if I get those WendHond scenes.
About the Author
Siege and Storm, the latest volume in her bestselling Grisha Trilogy, will be available online and in stores on June 4, 2013.
Win a Siege and Storm ARC! We hope our readers appreciate the supreme sacrifice we are making by offering up our ARC, especially since Leigh says very few of them were printed.
Update: Thanks to our lovely friend Katie, the winner will also receive an autographed launch party book plate, as well as some cool Grisha pins!
To enter, let us know your favorite thing about the Grisha Trilogy below (or why you’re excited to read the book) and fill out the Rafflecopter form! Open to US and Canadian residents aged 18 and older, or 13 and older with parental permission. Complete rules are on the entry form.
Our thanks to the gracious Leigh Bardugo for meeting up with us for this interview, as well as to Henry Holt for providing the ARC for this giveaway.
We’re a site focused on book reviews for adults, but here’s our disclaimer nonetheless: all of us are over 21 and do not encourage the reckless consumption of alcohol. Especially if you’re discussing Sturmhond, because you’ll want to remember all those delicious details.