DAYS OF BLOOD AND STARLIGHT by Laini Taylor (Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, November 6, 2012)
So with no more introduction, here is Laini!
PJHOOVER: I love the blend of real world and myth in your worlds. The two worlds are layered so well throughout. What first sparked the idea for the worlds in the series?
LAINI: Thank you! The seed of the book was a scene that came out of freewriting, in which a blue-haired girl was arguing with her monster father. There wasn’t a big picture or idea, I didn’t have any premise or concept in mind, I just fell in madly love with these characters and wanted to know who they were. I have found my optimal process to be a systematic alternation of freewriting and brainstorming. Starting out, I love to just let go and see what happens, what seeds of ideas my mind flings wildly out, and which of them end up intriguing me the most. In this case, Daughter of Smoke & Bone pretty much arose from the fact that Brimstone was wearing a wishbone around his neck and was a peddler of teeth, both things that appeared by chance in that first freewrite. It took thousands of words (and several months) of what-ifs to get a complex plot to “snick” into place. So, what is initially born out of a state of forced creative abandon (freewriting) is pretty quickly subjected to a much more rigorous and analytical state of mind (brainstorming). This wasn’t really your question, but I guess the answer to your actual question is that the worlds weren’t pre-planned. I didn’t know starting out that there would be another world. I believe that my freewriting brain supplied “the other door” in the back of Brimstone’s shop—freewriting brain is always throwing me mysteries to solve!—and … it had to lead somewhere … and somewhere became Elsewhere.
PJHOOVER: When it comes to marketing, what do you think makes the biggest difference in whether a book is successful?
This is a great mystery to me, and probably always will be. My thought is that the greatest factor—and probably the only quantifiable one—is publisher marketing dollars. Authors feel a lot of pressure to generate heat and buzz, but it is just so hard. Unless you’re already famous, then your voice just won’t reach very far no matter what you do, and every moment you spend on marketing efforts is stolen from writing. It’s not that it wouldn’t be worth it if it worked, I’m just not sure it does. Depressing answer? Sorry. I might be totally wrong!
PJHOOVER: Finish this sentence, and tell us why. Writing is a lot like…
LAINI: Writing is a lot like … um … dieting. No, really! It takes a lot of will and discipline and stubbornness, and it really affects your emotional well-being. A good writing day and I’m on top of the world, filled with confidence, pride, calm, happiness. A bad writing day and I’m anxious, grumpy, self-scathing, good-for-nothing. It’s the same with dieting. In both cases, at the end of the day, my self-worth is up or down depending on how I did!
PJHOOVER: What has been your favorite experience as an author thus far?
LAINI: It’s very hard to say! My earliest awesome moment was at a writing festival, when an 11-year-old boy swooned at my feet! He was a fan of my Dreamdark books, and literally fell into a swoon, on the ground, upon meeting me. That was pretty great. After that, I’d have to say that the parties that my publishers themed on Daughter of Smoke & Bone were pretty much beyond my wildest dreams. Little Brown’s was in New Orleans, and included “smoke” and “bone” cocktails, props like skulls, a fortune teller. My UK publisher hired this amazing costume firm, Prangsta, to kit out a historic nightclub in Piccadilly—and I got to dress up like a chimaera!
PJHOOVER: Please share your favorite inspirational thought!
LAINI: For writers:
"Let me tell you the secret that has led me to my goal: my strength lies solely in my tenacity." - Louis Pasteur
I have a lot more on writing, and a whole column of favorite writing-related quotes here: http://notforrobots.blogspot.com/
PJHOOVER: Thank you so much for being here!
About DAYS OF BLOOD AND STARLIGHT:
Once upon a time, an angel and a devil fell in love and dared to imagine a world free of bloodshed and war.
This is not that world.
Ar student and monster's apprentice Karou finally has the answers she has always sought. She knows who she is--and what she is. But with this knowledge comes another truth she would give anything to undo: She loved the enemy and he betrayed her, and a world suffered for it.
In this stunning sequel to the highly acclaimed Daughter of Smoke & Bone, Karou must decide how far she'll go to avenge her people. Filled with heartbreak and beauty, secrets and impossible choices, Days of Blood & Starlight finds Karou and Akiva on opposing sides as an age-old war stirs back to life.
While Karou and her allies build a monstrous army in a land of dust and starlight, Akiva wages a different sort of battle: a battle for redemption. For hope.
But can any hope be salvaged from the ashes of their broken dream?
P. J. Hoover is the author of the upcoming dystopia/mythology YA book, SOLSTICE (Tor Teen, June 2013), the upcoming Egyptian mythology MG book, TUT (Tor Children's, Winter 2014), and the middle-grade SFF series, THE FORGOTTEN WORLDS BOOKS (CBAY, 2008-2010). You can read more about her and her books on P. J.'s website or blog.