Thursday, March 22, 2012

Interview with Kristin Cashore & Bitterblue ARC giveaway!

congrats to TJ who won the Bitterblue arc!
thanks to all for becoming new inkies and also
participating in the giveaway and expressing your
love for cashore's books!

The long-awaited companion to New York Times bestsellers Graceling and Fire.

Eight years after Graceling, Bitterblue is now queen of Monsea. But the influence of her father, a violent psychopath with mind-altering abilities, lives on. Her advisors, who have run things since Leck died, believe in a forward-thinking plan: Pardon all who committed terrible acts under Leck's reign, and forget anything bad ever happened. But when Bitterblue begins sneaking outside the castle--disguised and alone--to walk the streets of her own city, she starts realizing that the kingdom has been under the thirty-five-year spell of a madman, and the only way to move forward is to revisit the past.

Two thieves, who only steal what has already been stolen, change her life forever. They hold a key to the truth of Leck's reign. And one of them, with an extreme skill called a Grace that he hasn't yet identified, holds a key to her heart.

cindy: hi kristin, it is so wonderful to have you back at the enchanted inkpot! thank you so much for taking the time from your very busy schedule with Bitterblue tour and promotions to be with us! i thoroughly loved this third novel in your series! (as i knew i would.)
what really struck me was how different Bitterblue was from Fire as Fire was different than Graceling. i appreciate it as a reader but truly admire it as a writer. i know how painful it is to make yourself stretch, to take risks, to write something that you've never attempted before. and you do this with each and every novel you write. yet as different as each novel is from the other, there is also a similarity in spirit, for at its core, is you!

kristin: Aw, thanks! :) And thanks for asking me back! I’m happy to be here.

cindy: you mentioned how difficult it was to be in Fire's head while you were working on that second novel. because she was often mentally and emotionally in a dark and difficult place. i found Bitterblue to be much more innocent and naive; yet, surrounded by so many secrets, and mired in a kingdom where her people are trying to overcome the many abuses inflicted upon them by Leck, her father. how was it for you writing this third novel? what were the challenges of writing from Bitterblue's point of view? what were some joys?

kristin: Being inside Bitterblue’s head was SO much easier than being inside Fire’s. It was a relief to be inside the head of a character with no superhuman powers (especially mind reading, which was another of the challenges with Fire!). Because she’s an ordinary human, I was able to relate to Bitterblue in certain ways I couldn’t with Katsa or Fire, and she was very generous with me—she really showed herself to me, and let me in.

That being said, everything else about the novel was significantly harder than the previous books. The complications of the plot provided enormous mental challenges for my little brain. Also, there was nothing enjoyable in writing about the abuses of Leck. Writing the pain of the people he’d hurt was painful for me, and writing the scenes in which he has a presence was horrible. I would finish my work and feel haunted and dirty for the rest of the day. A scene that took you five minutes to read may have taken me a week or more to write. Sometimes I felt trapped with him!

At the same time, no book has ever given me so much joy. I didn’t really feel the joy until it was done—there were few joyous moments while I was writing, I was too worried about what a big pile of crap it was—but finishing it was enormously satisfying. Nothing feels better than looking at something you’ve written and feeling like you did what you were hoping to do. I still feel that joy!

cindy: congratulations through the struggle and the resulting joy, kristin! as honestly, Bitterblue is my favorite heroine of yours thus far as is this novel. i've personally found that so much of novel writing is about trusting your own process. have you found that your process has changed at all through writing these three novels?

kristin: My physical process was the same for all three books: sit down with a pen and notebook; write, write, write by hand; when I start to get paranoid about the house burning down, transcribe the writing to a Word document using voice recognition software (because I can’t type without pain); print it out; revise, revise, revise. Other levels of my process, however, seem to change with each book. For example, while writing both Graceling and Fire, I revised a lot as I wrote, never moving on until I was completely satisfied with what I had.

Consequently, my first drafts of both of those books were in not-too-terrible shape. But I couldn’t do that with Bitterblue. The plot was too complicated, and there were too many mystery elements. There were lots of times when I really couldn’t know what needed to happen on an earlier page until I figured out what happened on a later page. So I left a lot of questions in brackets, tried to forgive myself for leaving a mess in my wake, and pushed on. My first draft was a disaster. It took me three years and was 800 pages long. The second draft was an enormous project, but also a satisfying one; I beat a lot of things into shape and shaved it down to under 600 pages. I never could have managed it if I hadn’t created the mess of the first draft first, though. A few more drafts followed.

I didn’t have a lot of confidence while I was writing Bitterblue, because it was such a mess most of the time. I was plagued by discouragement that I had to force myself to ignore every day. I depended on my arrogance and determination to keep me going. But finishing it has left me with this wonderful, relieving boatload of confidence, at least for the time being—such that as I work on a new book now, my heart is a little bit lighter. I see that the new book is also an insufferable mess, but I know that it’s okay. The mess is just part of the process, and hopefully I’ll be able to fix it later.

cindy: you blogged recently with all the drafts of Bitterblue piled into your book shelf. that visual and what you've just told us is utterly amazing and inspiring! Bitterblue was an architecturally and artistically visual book. you've traveled quite a lot since publishing. do you take inspiration from real life places or from art that you've seen?

kristin: I take inspiration from everything, really. The sculptures in Bitterblue were inspired by Bernini’s Apollo and Daphne, which I first saw in Rome many years ago. In the sculpture, Apollo is chasing Daphne, and to escape him, Daphne is turning into a tree. It’s simultaneously inspiring (Daphne finds strength by transforming into something impenetrable) and infuriating (Daphne has to give up her mobile, human form because some asshole is trying to rape her). It’s also just flatly a beautiful work of art. Things like that get me thinking, and a lot of my thinking works its way into my books :).

I’ll also mention that early on in the writing of Bitterblue, I began to appreciate one of the challenges I’d created for myself: as queen, Bitterblue never really gets to go anywhere. She’s in her castle almost all of the time. In my previous books, I’d written about journeys, oceans and mountains, changing landscapes. I realized that if I wanted Bitterblue to have a setting that came alive, I was going to have to start thinking about her castle as if it was an entire world, and challenge myself to make it interesting. This worked well with the ideas I had about who Leck had been and how he’d have renovated his castle and city. Hopefully it all came together.

cindy: it did. i found the novel very visual indeed. and that's an interesting writing challenge, but the castle never felt static to me--it felt alive, and full of secrets. although the focus and our heroine is Bitterblue, there is such strong “shades of Leck" haunting this story. that really resonated with me, that we cannot escape our histories nor instantly right or undo atrocities that have happened. just mere glimpses into the psyche of this man was terrifying. how "close" are you to Leck? is he a character that you would ever consider writing from, view point wise?

kristin: Your question actually made me shudder :). I can’t imagine ever writing more than a few pages from Leck’s viewpoint; I honestly think it would be bad for my mental health to try to do more. He really doesn’t have a single redeeming quality, and writing the glimpses into his psyche was a disturbing experience for me. I would write a scene, put it aside, spend the rest of the day trying to forget it; then come back the next day, read it, and realize with a sinking heart that it wasn’t creepy enough yet. So then I’d rewrite it, trying to make it more creepy. There were times when the realization that it wasn’t creepy enough yet would practically reduce me to tears, because I really didn’t want to spend any more time with him! The funny thing is that I never consciously planned to dwell in such horror. When I was writing Graceling, I wrote him as a fairly typical villain, and I had enough distance from him that he couldn’t hurt me. Then, in Fire, I had to spend some more time with him, but so little that it was actually kind of fun. Then I began Bitterblue and realized too late what I’d gotten myself into. I had to make him as evil in Bitterblue as I’d show him to be in the previous books—there was no way around that—but this time, in much more detail, at much greater length, and with no distance between us.
I can say with certainty that I’m happy to be done telling his story.

cindy: wow. it seems like it was a culmination, one that was unavoidable and necessary. and he truly is a chilling villain with a grace that caters so well to his cruel tendencies. will there be another novel set in this world, kristin? can you tell us a little about what other writing projects you are working on?

kristin: Right now, I’m writing something new, and the only thing I’m ready to say about it is that it’s not fantasy and is currently a pile of crap. But I’m working on it! :) As far as another novel set in my fantasy world goes—yes, I’m pretty sure I’ve got another one in me. Not sure what form it will take, but something is brewing.

cindy: not fantasy! i think that's very exciting and brave. i have every confidence that it will be brilliant in the end. also, i'm sure all your fans rejoice in knowing that there is at least one more novel set in the seven kingdoms! all fabulous news!!
the giveaway!

thanks again kristin for stopping by and giving such interesting insight into Bitterblue and your creative process! now, i'd like to give away my own Bitterblue ARC! (it's a little well loved, but perfectly readable! =)
to enter:

1. simply leave a comment in this post with your email (+1).

2. to increase your chances (+1) please twitter, fb status, blog (etc) and link to this interview and tell about the Bitterblue giveaway. make sure to comment with that link in this post.

3. to increase your chances (+1) please follow us at The Enchanted Inkpot! make sure to comment that you have become a follower.
giveaway runs through friday, 3/30 when i'll choose a winner by random. this contest is open INTERNATIONALLY. good luck!
cindy on twitter


  1. Oh, this is fantastic.

    Following the blog :)

  3. Replies
    1. Kristin Cashore interview and Bitterblue ARC giveaway! awesomesauce -- Karen Tran (@RennKarta)

      This is totally wrecking my "no internet" writing retreat. Ah well. Reading is vital to great writing.

  4. Woo! Can't wait to read this one :)