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A Reader of Fictions: Interview with Jay Kristoff + Giveaway

A Reader of Fictions

Book Reviews for Just About Every Kind of Book

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Interview with Jay Kristoff + Giveaway

I am so excited to have Jay Kristoff, author of Stormdancer here today! Make sure you check out my 5 star review of Stormdancer and enter to win a copy after reading the review!

To make things easy, my questions and comments are in purple, his are in green.

Pictures taken from Jay's website

How did you come up with the thunder tiger? Also, are you a fan of Avatar (The Last Airbender, not the blue creatures), because I could not help thinking of those crossbreeds as I read?

Well, a thunder tiger is basically a white griffin with tiger bits instead of lion bits (their wings also make a sound like thunder, but spoilersspoilersspoilers). Tigers are just flat-out cooler than lions (apologies to any lion fans out there) and white tigers are just flat-out cooler than regular tigers. So I suppose I was just trying to take a griffin and make it as cool as a griffin could possibly be. Kinda like painting flames up the side of a supermodel.

I loved Avatar, but funnily enough, I only watched it for the first time about six months ago, and I wrote Stormdancer around two years ago. I did like the mole-crocodile thing who could smell anything anywhere. The ninja girl who rode around on him flipping out and being badass was pretty cool too.

I imagine you're not allowed around too many supermodels, as that sounds like it would cause scarring, even though it would undoubtedly be cool.

Are any of the characters in Stormdancer based on yourself or people you know? Which ones?

Nnnnnot really. There’s bits and pieces of people I know scattered around, but no character who I could definitively say “you’re based on person X."

I suspect that a lot of me crept into Buruu (the griffin) over the course of writing the book. He’s kinda big and angry and sarcastic, but underneath he’s just a big kitten. And Buruu seems to be everyone’s favourite character, so that’s kinda cool.


How did you celebrate when you found out your book was going to be published by Macmillan?

Celebrations were a little drawn out, because Stormdancer sold at auction. I got told we had an offer before xmas 2011, and that was awesome - I got drunk on xmas day for the first time in my life (hey, my Auntie bought me a bottle of bourbon, gimme a break). But very soon we had two other houses bidding on the book, so it all became very surreal very quickly. I’d wake up each morning and there would be a new email from my agent with a new offer (which is a really nice way to wake up every day). The whole auction took about a month to complete – book auctions aren’t these big swanky affairs like I imagined them to be, they’re basically just a bunch of emails flying back and forth.

On the day we actually decided which house we were going with, I played air guitar for about ten minutes (furious solo), called my folks and said “guess what?”, and then got stonkingly drunk.

And I know I sound like a total boozehound now, but it’s all coincidence, I assure you.

No judgment from me. If I ever sell a book, I'm pretty sure the celebration would have to involve copious amounts of margaritas. Just sayin'.

What prompted your interest in shogunate Japan?

I wish I had a good answer for that. I could make up one about being the scion of a line of gaijin who travelled to japan in the 19th century and learned the Ancient Art of Awesome… but that’d be pure lies.

I guess I wanted to write a steampunk book because I loved the aesthetic, but European- based steampunk seemed like it had already been done a lot, and done very well. The world had some incredible cultures in the 19th century, and I think fantasy is already shamefully guilty of a European focus. 

Why do you hate happiness?

Lol, who said that? I’m not a fan of happy endings, if that’s what you mean. Happy endings feel cheap to me. I think the best endings are the ones where the heroes paid dearly – where victory was almost as costly as defeat. I want my readers to be afraid for the characters that they love, I want them dreading turning the page in case something awful happens.

Storytellers and their audiences have a pact with each other - audiences can guess quite quickly where most stories are going. They know the heroes are probably going to win, that the Big Bad Guy will be defeated, that good will triumph. Nobody really wants to hear a story where evil reigns supreme at the end. So it’s not so much the ultimate outcome of the story that audiences are interested in. It’s HOW we get there, and what the heroes PAY for their almost-inevitable victory. It’s the storyteller’s job to make that journey worth glossing over the fact that the heroes win every frackin’ time.

If the heroes pay nothing, victory feels cheap. Take Harry Potter. In the first few books, Harry pays nothing for his victory. A little sleight of hand, and little smartassery, and bam, credits roll. In later books, people he loves are dropping like flies. Which books, as a reader, were you more invested in?

To clarify, that's actually inside joke with a friend. We like to say that Joss Whedon hates happiness, because any time someone falls in love or is really happy, you know shit is about to GO DOWN and someone's probably going to die. Thanks for taking that non sequitur like a champ.

I do love the early Harry Potter books more than the later ones, actually, but...I take your point, and that's actually one of the rare cases where it works that way. She killed all of my favorite characters! Sigh.

Which character was the easiest to write? Which was the most difficult?

Buruu was easiest, probably because he talks in all-caps, all the time. There’s something about hitting capslock before you type a sentence that makes the words flow easier. Capslock is the cruise- control for awesome. Even the most ridiculous sentiment is made better by it. Observe:


Probably why trolls are so rife on the internet.

The hardest was probably Masaru, Yukiko’s father. I had to strike a balance with him – make a guy who is essentially just a worthless deadbeat drug-addicted bastard of a father into someone the audience could still get behind and sympathise with. He didn’t use any capslock, either.

Up until this book, I pretty much hated capslock. I love it now and will be abusing it in the future. THANK YOU FOR OPENING UP THE POSSIBILITIES OF CAPSLOCK.

So, you heard it here first, to get rid of trolls, we need to remove capslock from computers. What do you say, computer manufacturers?

Were there any particular plot elements or scenes in Stormdancer that were particularly onerous to accomplish?

The climax was tricky, because there’s lots of pieces on the board and of course a few twists to reveal/explain. But the climax is where all the fun is, so I wouldn’t call it onerous. Just… tricky

What book do you most wish you had written?

Where the Wild Things Are. Pure 100% magic.

When can we expect book two? And by ‘we,’ I mean me, as in when are you hooking me up with an ARC?

We’re about to start editing book 2 in the next couple of weeks, so for all I know, half of it could be completely rewritten. It’s hard to talk about without spoiling book 1, and there are a couple of revelations very early in book 2 that define the plot but are also planet-sized spoilers. So I can’t talk much about it at this stage. But I guess things get… bigger. Stormdancer was really Yukiko’s story with a few peripheral characters stepping in. But a couple of those peripheral characters play major roles in the second book. It’s more epic in scope. The nation is crumbling, Yukiko is trying to come to grips with the idea of being a hero. We meet a few new faces, and new threat is rising from the smoke. The title is something of a spoiler, but I can’t tell you what it is yet. :P

As for ARCs, I accept bribery in the form of cold currency or bourbons.

Expect some Kentucky Bourbon on your doorstep within the week.

How does it feel being one of the rare, male Apocalypsies?

Haha, it’s a little strange. I always feel like the ladies change the subject when I jump into chat. Like I’m an interloper in “women’s bizness.” But I guess it’s easy to stand out from the crowd. It makes for a nice change, at any rate.

I wouldn't imagine standing out in a crowd is generally a problem for you. 

Do you consider yourself a particular kind of author (i.e. fantasy, science fiction, etc.) or do you like all of the genres? 
Fantasy/Sci Fi. That’s where my true loves lie. I’ve had a couple of ideas for contemporary novels, and my first novel (trunked) was actually more of a horror story than anything else. But I have a few ideas floating around in my head about what I’ll write after the Lotus War is finished, and it’s all SciFi-Fantasy stuff. I’m a huge nerd. It’s what I’m good at.

I approve. Keep up the good work, sir.

I am, obviously, a fan of playlists. What songs did you listen to while writing? If you have a Stormdancer playlist, what's on it?

I don’t really listen to music while I write – I can’t concentrate. The music I listen to tends to be quite… obnoxious. I have albums which would strip the paint from your walls and make orphans of your grandchildren. But Rage Against the Machine’s “The Battle of Los Angeles” was on constant rotation when I was writing Stormdancer. RatM really embodied the spirit of rebellion and discontent I was trying to capture in the book. They were a band that believed in activism, in standing against the tyranny of greed, in the power of the individual to change the world.

It has to start somewhere.
It has to start sometime.
What better place than here?
What better time than now?

Stormdancer is a dystopia, and this is Dystopian August, so can you leave me with some Dystopian recs? Either the scariest or the best or the most absurd. Whatever list you want to build!

1984 - George Orwell
V for Vendetta – Alan Moore
A Clockwork Orange – Anthony Burgess
Fahrenheit 451 – Ray Bradbury
The Wind-Up Girl – Paolo Bacigalupi

I'm guessing these are favorites...

As your GR friend, I know that you are one of the review-trackingest authors out there. Thankfully, your reviews have all been positive so far, and you have a 4.4 average rating on GR. How do you plan to react when some inevitably misguided person posts an (obviously incorrect) insulting review of Stormdancer? I know you’re a proponent of not being a douche (thanks for that), but do you have a specific bottle of beer you plan to climb into until you feel better? Ice cream? Potato chips? A walk on the beach?

I’ll probably go back and read a review like yours. Bad reviews are inevitable – not every book is for every person. I guess the best medicine is to focus on the folks who enjoyed the book, who understood what you were trying to say. There’s certainly something to be said for reading negative reviews – as long as the criticism is constructive. But engaging with a reader who didn’t like your book – no. Just no. We’ve seen so many authors fucking up so badly this year like that. I hope everyone has learned enough to never do it again (hey, I can be optimistic sometimes).

I do try to make a point to say thank you to the folks who left nice reviews, though. I figure this person has just spent eight or so hours of their lives in a world I built. They will never get those hours back. They could have done anything with them, and they chose to spend them with my words. Not only that, but they chose to spend more time telling the world how awesome it was. That deserves some special thanks.

But honestly, ANYONE who reads the book deserves my thanks. Like or hate it, they gave something of themselves to this thing I built out of blank paper and dreamstuff on lunch breaks and in the wee small hours. That’s kind of amazing to me.

*high fives*

What will your next authorial project be when you finish The Lotus Wars?

I have two ideas guitar-duelling for dominance at the moment – one is a post-apocalyptic sci-fi thing with a cyberpunk vibe. The other is a dark epic fantasy. The fantasy is winning atm. I wrote the opening page the other day, just as a writing exercise and I lurrrved it. It’s got a pretty twisty premise and it’ll be difficult to write. But I like the idea of doing something that pushes me.

Both of them feature teenage female protagonists, strangely enough. I dunno why that is. Maybe deep down I’m terrified of Gary Stu accusations if I ever write a male MC.

Both of those sound awesome. Of course, we need the rest of The Lotus Wars too. Interesting about the female MCs. Makes for a nice change from the norm!

Tell me something random about yourself.

My wife and I eloped in Rome. I sincerely recommend it.

More Way to Learn About Jay/Stormdancer:

US Only (so sorry!), because I am footing the bill for shipping. The winner gets an ARC of Stormdancer, along with some Apocalypsies swag. Woo! Otherwise, the rules are: fill out the Rafflecopter and don't cheat.
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Before you leave, make sure you check out the awesome comment giveaway going on during Dystopian August. Fill out the form (US) or the rafflecopter (INT only) on this post and every comment enters you to win books! 

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Anonymous Katie @ BlookGirl said...

I am speechless. What an awesome interview! Have I mentioned lately how much I <3 Jay? :-D

I like his book recommendations and immediately added The Wind-Up Girl to my To-Read List. How is it that I've never heard of it?!

Thanks for the great interview, Christina and Jay, and thanks for the epic giveaway! <3

August 8, 2012 at 5:19 PM  
Blogger Bekka said...

I am purposely ignoring and avoiding all the reviews - positive and negative - for this book until I read it.

Now that I think about it I'm not sure why I entered this giveaway since I all ready have a copy but to hell with it. I want to hold it in my hands and smell the pages, not read it on a screen.

I am so happy to have found other CAPSLOCK brethren.

August 8, 2012 at 5:30 PM  
Blogger Neyra said...

I'm reading this book right nowww!!! >.< I'm almost done, and I love it! ♥ Thanks Mr. Kristoff for such awesomeness! And thank you Christina for the giveaway :)


August 8, 2012 at 5:32 PM  
Blogger Lilian said...

"I figure this person has just spent eight or so hours of their lives in a world I built. They will never get those hours back."
*feels super proud of myself* Gigantic ego boosting moment eight there.

And for some reason I always though Jay was female. oooppss. YA stereotypes at work.

GIVE ME THE BOOK! *is tempted to hold you up at gunpoint*...or a katana since I'm Asian and I should know how to use that kind of stuff.

Lilian @ A Novel Toybox

August 8, 2012 at 6:14 PM  
Blogger G. Donald Cribbs said...

What a great idea for a giveaway. I love dystopians, and steampunk. What could be more awesome than STORMDANCER? Nothing, of course! And, I know because I totally peeked at the first 3 chapters on TOR and was instantly won over. I count myself among Jay's minions. So much so, I tried to win his last ARC, but alas, my entry, while good, wasn't good enough: http://gdonaldcribbsbooks.blogspot.com/2012/07/raiders-of-last-arc-official-entry-for.html but at least I was worthy to post on Jay's blog, which is a close second! (Mine is the third one down: http://misterkristoff.wordpress.com/2012/07/23/amaaaaaaaazeballs/) I loved this cheeky interview. I sure hope I get to spend at least 8 hours in Jay's world. Thankfully, this is book 1 of a series and there will be more after this one is over. I'd love to read and review this, so I hope I land on the roulette wheel that is Random.org. My wife begs you. If she hears me declare ZOMG!!! one more time about STORMDANCER, I think she'll have me flogged for starters.

Oh, and now I have to squirm in anticipation of the thought that is drawing like a cloud around Jay in battle? ZOMG!!!!!!!!!!!!! ZOMG!!!!!!! O.o ZOMG!!!! (see?)

August 8, 2012 at 9:36 PM  
Blogger Heather said...

"Why do you hate happiness?"

It's a good thing I wasn't drinking anything while I read this because it would have been all over my screen from laughing too hard. I'm so glad you asked that very important question! haha.

That list of recommended dystopias is solid! I've been wanting to read The Wind-Up Girl for ages.

August 8, 2012 at 10:40 PM  
Blogger DJL said...

This is by far one of the most detailed and unique interviews I've seen. I'm so glad it was for Jay Kristoff because he is THE awesome. Not just awesome. THE awesome. Somehow I'm not surprised that Buruu was the easiest character to write, and the fact that he talks in all-caps also proves my second sentence. Also, Where the Wild Things Are hands down is one of the most awesome of books. I shudder to think of the day where I show the book to another adult and they say, "Never heard of it. What's it about?" Surely, my librarian heart will break.

Again, amazing interview. :) Thank you for hosting the giveaway alongside it!

P.S. Does Jay accept bribery in the form of baked goods?

August 8, 2012 at 10:53 PM  
Blogger Alessandra said...

I don't usually read author interviews when I haven't read their book(s) first, but I must say, Christina, you write hilariously good questions :)

August 9, 2012 at 7:23 AM  
Blogger Christina said...

Glad you like it! Jay is pretty freaking fantastic, right?

The Windup Girl was actually already on my list of books to read pre-this interview, and by list of books to read I mean for Dystopian August. I think the review's supposed to go up this week. I just need to read it first.

<3 you!

August 9, 2012 at 8:07 AM  
Blogger Christina said...

Understandable! All I will say is that you'll be better off not thinking of it as a YA book. :)

I totally enter giveaways for books I have NG copies of. Those don't feel real. Also, I'm not sure what all of that computer-reading does to my eyes. Probably bad things.


August 9, 2012 at 8:08 AM  
Blogger Christina said...

Glad you're loving it!

August 9, 2012 at 8:09 AM  
Blogger Christina said...

Isn't he amazing? Why don't all authors have this attitude towards readers?

Bahaha. There have been so many I thought were male that are female, like A. S. King and J. Anderson Coats. Initials are so tricky!

If you actually knew how to use the katana, I would totally give it to you. Because yeah. (No, I wouldn't but I would want to)

August 9, 2012 at 8:10 AM  
Blogger Christina said...

Very nice! That's so cool that you made artwork for that contest. I did not, both because I already had two ARCs (sorry about that...didn't plan it) and because I ENTIRELY lack art skills. Anytime they do ARC giveaways for art, I'm like oh well, there goes that.

Who will the Random.org gods smile upon? Who knows?!

August 9, 2012 at 8:12 AM  
Blogger Christina said...

Yeah! Oh, my friends. I love how you get me.

Me too. Soon. VERY soon.

August 9, 2012 at 8:13 AM  
Blogger Christina said...

Awww, thanks! I struggle with interviews because I really want to try to ask at least some unique questions. Never really sure if I've succeeded. Of course, it's easy with an author like Jay who can spice up even the most boring of questions!

One of my coworkers doesn't know who Jane Austen or Charlotte Bronte are, and hasn't heard of any of their books. I just about cried.

P.S. Not sure of his stance on baked goods. There are bourbon desserts right? That could work maybe!

August 9, 2012 at 8:15 AM  
Blogger Lilian said...

I totally thought A.S. King was a dude. Partly because Everybody Sees the Ants looked like a guy-book. Then I was jealous of her initials (I had to check if it was a pseudonym)

If I did know how to use a katana, I don't think you'd have a choice.
But then if I did, I would also probably have ninja skills to steal the book without you noticing...
If you even find it missing from your shelf...you know what's up. *wink wink*

August 9, 2012 at 8:48 AM  
Blogger Christina said...

Yeah, I made that mistake. Note to self because of that review: always make sure you know of the gender before writing a review. Eeeks. *goes to shame corner*

Lol. I'll have to guard it carefully like 10 hours from now, sine getting from Hawaii takes a while.

August 9, 2012 at 8:56 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I cannot even tell you guys how excited I am to read this book. Japanese steampunk! This is like everything I could ever hope for. And a thunder tiger?! ZOMG.

And I agree with everyone else, this is one of the best author interviews I've ever read. Nice work! And thanks for the giveaway!

August 9, 2012 at 9:58 AM  
Blogger Christina said...

Right? I don't understand people who don't have this reaction to finding out about Stormdancer. Everything in the plot is AWESOMENESS.

OMG, you guys, I feel so loved!

August 9, 2012 at 10:18 AM  
Blogger Kat said...

This is probably THE BEST AUTHOR INTERVIEW EVER. I too now understand the hidden power of CAPSLOCK.


I must read this!

Charlotte who? ;-)

August 9, 2012 at 5:09 PM  
Blogger Christina said...

Thanks Kat! You're sweet to say so. Of course, the awesomeness is pretty much all Jay.

You must!


August 9, 2012 at 5:21 PM  
Blogger Vivien said...

I've been following Jay for a few months now. He's such a brilliant person. Loved the interview!

August 9, 2012 at 5:52 PM  
Blogger Christina said...

He's fantastic, and so is Stormdancer!

August 9, 2012 at 6:13 PM  
Blogger G. Donald Cribbs said...

Not me. I did not win, but at least there are chances like this still out there to hope for. Perhaps Random.org will see fit to reward my persistence. Glad you liked the artwork. I got a bit carried away after reading the sample chapters online. Thanks for the opportunity! :D

August 11, 2012 at 6:52 PM  
Blogger Anita Yancey said...

I enjoyed the interview. The book sounds wonderful. Lotus Wars sounds like it will be a great book too. Thanks for having this giveaway.

August 11, 2012 at 9:31 PM  
Blogger Christina said...

You're welcome! Best of luck to all!

August 12, 2012 at 7:02 PM  
Blogger Jennifer said...

Ok, this was such a fun interview! Jay is pretty awesome and omg, I want Stormdancer so bad. And Buruu sounds great! I think there should definitely be more animals/pets in books!

August 12, 2012 at 11:58 PM  
Blogger Christina said...


Sorry, Buruu wanted to stop by and relay that message. He's also the best. :-D

August 13, 2012 at 8:05 AM  
Blogger M.A.D. said...

That would have to be just about the most exciting thing in the world, to have MULTIPLE publishing houses bidding on your work!!! LOL - had to laugh at what Jay said, I'd love to start my day off opening email, too if I were him ;D (and yeah, I'da gotten drunk, too) <3

Mary DeBorde M.A.D.

August 22, 2012 at 2:21 PM  
Blogger Christina said...

Who wouldn't? If there's any day you deserve to over-indulge, it's when you make a breakthrough like that!

August 22, 2012 at 2:23 PM  
Blogger Jaime Lester said...

I adored the whole interview, but I gotta say that my favorite part of the whole thing was that Jay played a freaking amazing air guitar solo. I would love to have a contest with him. Bet I would win. I am sorta the master air guitarer around these parts. AND he got stonkingly drunk. That has got to be one of the coolest made up words ever. Jay really seems like a cool, down to earth dude, and I like that about a person. I can't wait to read Stormdancer. It sound stonkingly brilliant!

August 22, 2012 at 4:55 PM  
Blogger Christina said...

I love everything about this comment. If he does a US tour, you will have to charge him to an air guitar battle. Not really sure how that would work, but I am a noob in the ways of air guitar.

He does seem like one of the most stonkingly cool people ever.

August 23, 2012 at 8:46 AM  
Anonymous Anya said...

GYAHH the library has like 6 copies and 7287698763194876918732649187634 requests. But I'm super excited about when I'll get to read it-- whether it's from this giveaway, or the library.

Jay Kristoff... wow, just wow. He seems, like an amazing person who wrote an amazing book. Also that he eloped in Rome.

August 27, 2012 at 9:41 AM  
Blogger Christina said...

Holy cow. That is ALL of the requests. Where are you in the line?

Right? I think if I ever get married, I might elope. Maybe not to Rome, but Tuscany would be nice. That would save the pain of who to invite, plus you get the wedding and honeymoon done in one fell swoop.

August 27, 2012 at 9:43 AM  
Blogger Nori said...

What good questions! Did you really send him bourbon? I wouldn't put it past you. And I totally wish I wrote Where the Wild Things are too. Except, not the movie.

August 29, 2012 at 11:11 PM  
Blogger Christina said...

Lol. No, I didn't. I don't even have his address. Though he did send me a book once, so I maybe could have had it were I a stalker. BUT I'M NOT.


August 30, 2012 at 9:38 AM  
Anonymous Tim said...

I love your questions, especially about reviews and "What are some dystopia recommendations?" I have heard great stuff about The Windup Girl, and I must read Stormdancer. Thanks for the interview & giveaway.

August 31, 2012 at 10:27 PM  
Blogger Vinny K said...

Great interview. And Jay Kristoff IS awesome.

August 31, 2012 at 10:33 PM  
Blogger Christina said...

You say that now. Just wait til you read the book. Then you'll know just HOW awesome.

September 4, 2012 at 8:53 AM  

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