A Q&A With Leigh Bardugo

Emma Phillips, Staff Writer

Author of bestsellers “Shadow and Bone,” “Siege and Storm,” “Ruin and Rising,” and many others, Leigh Bardugo was able to have an exclusive interview with The Norse Star. Not only is Bardugo a bestselling author, but she is the executive producer of the new Netflix series, “Shadow and Bone,” based off of her book series. Wanting to learn more about how Bardugo writes her captivating YA stories, we’ve chosen the best questions and answers from the interview to showcase.

Q: What kind of research do you do, and how long do you spend researching before beginning a book?
A: There are really two kinds of research for me. The easy kind is when I know specifically what you’re looking for—new weapons technology that I can filter through the Grishaverse lens, the flowers that might grow in a particular character’s garden. The other type requires casting a wide net: reading cultural histories, military histories, collecting old prayer books and recipe books and textiles. […] You never know where inspiration will come from or what tiny sliver you’ll use, but it’s all necessary.

Q: What’s the most difficult thing about writing characters of the opposite sex as opposed to writing female characters?
A: I don’t think there’s really any difference. It’s possible readers are more forgiving of certain character traits in men—ruthlessness, rudeness, greed. It’s probably why I love female antiheroes so much. But the writing of a character is far more influenced by that person’s history, hungers, and skillset, than by gender. People get so weirdly wrapped up in that binary. I remember going to a meeting with some studio executives in Hollywood—the kind where they flatter you a lot and give you a tiny bottle of water. One of the execs said, “I don’t really care about Shadow and Bone, but I love Six of Crows because it’s full of guy stuff.” You can imagine my confusion. Guy stuff? “Yeah, explosions, gun fights, trash talk.” I gently explained that women liked those things too, and he responded, “Sure women like them, but guys love them.” It was a very short meeting.

Q: What’s one scene from one of your novels that you really didn’t want to edit out, but had to?
A: It’s rare that I cut much from a book because I tend to write very lean first drafts that grow longer rather than shorter in revision. But my editor did make me cut some of my giddy descriptions of food in Ninth House. I could really go on about a buffet for days.

Q: What was one of the hardest scenes you’ve had to write?
A: There’s a chapter in “Crooked Kingdom” where Kaz helps Inej change her bandages. I must have written over thirty versions of that thing, revising, tweaking, refining, trying to get it just right. Also I hate writing battle scenes so “Rule of Wolves” was brutal. No more war books for me.