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Interview with Jay Kristoff, author of <em>Kinslayer</em>
Kinslayer by Jay Kristoff was one of my most anticipated reads of the year, and before we get into the interview, I have to tell you that it was everything I hoped it would be. I was lucky enough to read it early, and you can see my review here. Short version: I literally laughed AND cried, and I love, love, love this book. It came out this week and you should grab a copy now, thank me later.
Anyway, when we got the chance to drag Jay Kristoff into our lair, shine a light in his face and bark questions at him (while a couple of Pub Crawlers searched his house for the draft to book three), we went right ahead. But first, here's the lowdown on Jay:
Jay Kristoff is the author of the Lotus War trilogy. STORMDANCER was released in September 2012, and KINSLAYER is out this month. You can find Jay online on Twitter, Facebook or at his blog. Jay is 6’7, has approximately 13520 days to live and does not believe in happy endings.
So, Kristoff, we want the truth! In writing Kinslayer you had to pick up a huge cast of characters and a series of story threads you started weaving together in Stormdancer. Which was epic. How did you go about keeping the reader with you when often they'd had a break since they were last in your world?
I wrote a character refresher at the start of the book. I agonized about doing that for months. I figure the book should be strong enough to live without it. But then I realized that most people are going to spend a year between reading STORMDANCER and KINSLAYER. That’s a year of other books and fights with boyfriends and school and parents and whatnot. A year where they weren’t even THINKING about my series. And it’s not like the Lotus War is a 1st person PoV series where everything revolves around a one character nexus. KINSLAYER has something like five plotlines running simultaneously, with two or three major characters in each. This shit is hard to keep straight in my head, and I’m the author. So I figure and help I could give the reader, the better. I’m seeing a lot of “thank you for the refresher” notes in early reviews, so that was probably a good move.
The prologue is a summary of the events of SD too, told through Kin’s eyes. But it serves as a parallel to his epilogue, too, and how he changes over the course of the book (you’ll see when you get there), so it’s not a total cheat. And ow. Please stop hitting me. I'll just tell you this stuff.
Pfft, it can't be hurting. You're 6'7", we can only reach your knees. One of the incredible things about Stormdancer was the intricacy of the world you created. Can you give readers a hint about a new person or place they'll encounter in Kinslayer that you loved creating?
Yuki and Buruu spend some time in a place called the Monastery of the Painted Brotherhood. It’s an ancient fortress on one of the northern isles of the Imperium. The monks who live there keep the secrets of the world tattooed on their bodies. It’s probably the creepiest scene I’ve ever written. And it has some great one-liners form Buruu. [Amie: For real, this was SUPER creepy... and I literally laughed out loud at some of Buruu's lines.]
I had a relatively balanced childhood, too. I dunno where this stuff comes from…
What's a typical writing day like for you?
I still have a day job, so I book a meeting room and write during my lunchbreak at work. I can smash out about 1,000 words on a good day there. On a bad day I fall asleep on my laptop and wake up with the impression of the keyboard pressed into my cheek. Thankfully I don’t drool or electrocution could be a real problem.
I get home from work, walk the dog, eat dinner and watch something with my bride (we’re doing The Tudors atm, wtf @ Catherine Howard and Thomas Culpepper, seriously, how dumb were these people), then sit on the couch and write until about 1am. 2am sometimes. Which explains why I sometimes fall asleep on my lunchbreaks :P
Basically, my life is pure rock and/or roll.
Don't think pity is going to throw us off your trail. Speak! If you were transported into your book, which scene would you most want to reenact?
Chapter 52 of KINSLAYER. With Hana and Yoshi and Daken. That way I could stop the Bad Thing happening. I feel quite bad about the Bad Thing. I mean, I did a lot of Bad Things in that book—pretty much no one gets out unscarred. But chapter 52 has a particularly Bad Thing that I’d have stopped if I could have.
You’ll know when you get there. [Amie: You'll know when you get there. And guys, I'll be here if you need me.]
If you could spend a night at the pub with any 3 authors (alive or dead) who would it be and why?
Noam Chomsky, Carl Sagan and Adolf Hilter. I could sit and listen to Chomsky and Sagan talk forever. Literally forever. And when we were done (after forever), we could drag little Adolf into the parking lot and kick the crap out of him.
Pub Brawl!!!!! What weapon are you wielding?
Broken pool cue. It’s all about the reach. Also very handy if any of the brawlers happen to be undead.
What would YOU name your literary pub?
The Literary Giant.
What are you reading right now?
UNWIND by Neal Shusterman. Just started. [Amie: I read this because Sooz Dennard recommended it. STILL HAVING NIGHTMARES.]
Any words of advice for aspiring authors?
There’s a million words out there for aspiring writers, and most of them are far more eloquent than mine. Read widely and write everyday and all that jazz. Mine is a little more fundamental than that. I wrote these words way back before I ever had a publishing deal, and they still hold true today.
Believe in yourself.
The only belief that matters in this equation is your own. It’s nice to have the support of betas or trusted friends, but it’s not necessary (the only person who had more than the vaguest idea that I was writing a book until I got repped was my wife). The only person who needs to believe you can do this is you. Everything else is window dressing.
The people who tell you that you can’t do it? The critics on your forums who offer vicious or empty feedback? The people who give you a funny little look when you mention your book? The people who are waiting for you to fail?
Say those words. Sing them. Take a deep breath and scream them.
It doesn’t matter what they think, or what they say. It doesn’t matter what they believe. It only matters what you think, what you believe. Because if you believe you can do it, and you’re meant to be doing it, then you will. You can. And that’s all there is to it. No more, no less than that.
Believe in yourself. Keep the faith. At the end of the day, it’s all any of us have.