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Thursday, September 22, 2011

INTERVIEW with Jay Kristoff

Hey guys! Here’s another interview from fellow Apocalypsies member, Jay Kristoff author of STORMDANCER and—OMG, prepared to get your mind blown! Griffins and samurais and robots, Oh MY! He’s better off explaining it, so take it away, Jay.

Here’s the official pitch for STORMDANCER:
The Shima Isles are verging on the brink of environmental collapse; decimated by clockwork mechanization and toxic pollution. Befriending the last griffin alive on the islands, sixteen-year-old Yukiko pits herself against the Shogunate authorities in the hope of seeing her homeland saved, her family freed and the crippled griffin fly again.

It’s Japanese Steampunk! Clockwork samurai! Chainsaw katanas! Griffins! (ok, they’re not Steampunk, but they’re still kinda cool)

I’m liking this story already. So how did you come up with such an unusual story?
I know that this is a really lame answer, but I had a dream. It was about a little boy trying to teach a griffin with broken wings to fly. (I was querying another book at the time, and Freudians will tell you that the little boy was me, and the griffin was the book that was never gonna get off the ground). Anyways, the image stuck in my head.

I wanted to tell a story with an environmental message. I wanted to say something about the damage we’re doing to the species we share this planet with in the pursuit of fuel and resources, even if it’s cloaked in an analogy with flying tigers and chainsaw katana fights. :P

Wow! Good message. So what do you enjoy most about this genre?
There are no limits in writing fantasy. You want to write a story about a nerdy little kid who grows up to be the most powerful wizard who ever lived and goes on to defeat an evil Dark Lord™, you can.

Hey, that actually sounds like it might sell…

My favourite YA book ever is probably the Chocolate War. Or maybe I am the Cheese. I’m a big Robert Cormier fan.

What music inspired your story?
“The Battle of Los Angeles” by Rage Against the Machine. I listened to that album constantly while writing STORMDANCER. It’s all about the need to institute change, and the power of regular people to do so. Raise. Your. Fist.

How much of YOU is put into your characters?
I think all writers bleed into their characters. Different facets are pulled back or amplified, but ultimately we’re all drawing on something inside ourselves to make these people (and griffins) real. For me, the real challenge was writing a teenaged female protagonist, given that, ya know, I’ve never BEEN ONE. But I did a guest blog over at YA Highway about it, which people seemed to dig.

A large aspect of writing YA and MG books is to be relatable to teens. Provide five adjectives to describe your high school experience.

Smoky, drinky, angry, fighty, lonely.

Did you go to prom?
We don’t have proms in Australia. We wrestle crocodiles instead.
(I’m lying. We have proms, but they’re called “formals”. Didn’t go to mine, although a girlfriend dragged me to hers, and it was DEATHHHHH)

What do think is the BIGGEST misconception about teenagers?
That they somehow need to be ‘protected’ from the world, or shielded from reality. And whether it’s as infantile as trying to remove curse words from YA literature, or ban offensive books, or refusing to talk honestly and openly about drugs or sex or whatever, it all adds up to one thing – BS condescension.

Talking down to anyone is a great way to get them to stop listening. I’m unsure why more parents and teachers don’t understand that.

If you could go back in time and tell the 15 year-old you one thing, what would it be?
For the love of God, stay the hell away from blondes.

Good advice. Okay, so who was the most influential person in your writing career?
My wife. She’s my biggest fan and most brutal critic. I couldn’t have written the book I did without her. She’s 100% awesome.

Yup, he’s taken, ladies. Fall back. *sigh* Time for the speed round of randomness. Ready? Go!

What is your favorite mythical creature/ monster and why?
Griffins, of course! Dragons are waaaaay played out.

If you had a super power, what would it be and why?
Telepathy. I always wonder what people are really thinking.

What is your favorite word in the English language?

What is your favorite curse word?
Too many to mention. But I’m using “fuckweasel” a lot lately. I think it’s quite evocative.

What are you reading right now?
Leviathan by Scott Westerfeld. It’s really good.

In your opinion, what is the hardest thing about writing?
The waiting. It never ends. You wait to hear back on queries. Then partials. Then offers of rep. Then publishing houses. Then editors notes. Then second-round notes. Then copy edits. Then cover art. Then proofs. Then ARCs. Then schedules. Then blurbs. Then OMG YOU ARE THE ZEN FUCKING MASTER OF WAITING.

Oh man, I know the feeling. But waiting is almost as bad as rejections. How did you cope with those?
I wrote another book.
It’s really hard, but you have to channel that negativity into something positive. The anger, depression and self-doubt that comes with rejection can be used to fuel something truly awesome.
I was in luuuurve with my first book. But the book that ultimately got me repped and sold (at auction, no less) was the book I wrote while angsting about my first book getting shit-canned.

When you enter a bookstore next year and see your book on the shelf, what do you think your reaction would be?
Manic laughter. All palms to the sky, twirling my moustache, thunder rolling in the background and whatnot.

The strange thing is I’ll probably have the same reaction. He’s hilarious! Alright guys, look out for Jay Kristoff's STORMDANCER (St. Martin's Press/Tor UK)  coming Spring  2012.

Next week’s interview will be with Jodi Meadows, author of the paranormal romance INCARNATE. This should be fun!


  1. Lol, I'm still waiting to become a Zen Master of Waiting. Right now I suck at it. Great interview! So fun to hear more about Stormdancer and how it came about!

  2. Great interview - I really enjoyed it and am looking forward to reading Stormdancer!

  3. This is a grate treat for me, because I am a big fan of “Jay Kristoff” and I have a nice collection of his images. Really like his character and some interesting questions, also his replies and ideas are pretty exciting. Thanks a lot for sharing. In fact looking forward to keep in touch with this blog.

  4. Some interesting questions and he has given fantastic replies for the questions. That’s why he is so special. Nice one to enjoy and know more about our star.




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