FIVE QUESTIONS WITH KINSLAYER'S JAY KRISTOFF
12 September 2013
By Louise Buckley
Last year we were lucky enough to publish the wonderful Stormdancer by Jay Kristoff, a rollicking fantasy adventure set in feudal Japan, that has garnered some fantastic reviews from the likes of Patrick Rothfuss, Scott Westerfeld and Stephen Hunt. Today, we publish the second book in the Lotus War series, Kinslayer. To celebrate, we have a five question interview with Jay Kristoff below, a sample extract, and if this has piqued your interest, make sure you check out last year's five question interview..
1) Kinslayer follows on from your debut, Stormdancer. Did your initial ideas for Kinslayer change once you started writing, or was the whole story clearly plotted out in advance?
It was totally plotted out in my head, I knew exactly what was going to happen, but about 80,000 words in, I realised I’d started in the wrong place. And the thing was, my wife told me I was starting in the wrong place and I ignored her. You think I’d have learned that lesson by now.
I recently looked at the original synopsis I wrote for the book (nearly three years ago!), and it bears very little resemblance to the one I actually wrote. Fortunately, the book I actually wrote turned out far better than the one I planned to.
So, basically, I should listen to my wife.
2) What came first when writing Stormdancer: the characters, the story or the setting?
Yukiko and Buruu came first. They’re the nexus of the entire story, and their relationship really defines the whole trilogy. Thing is, when I wrote Stormdancer, I had no publishing deal, and I thought it’d be arrogant to plan on a trilogy when I was some schlub who didn’t even have a literary agent. So I killed off Yukiko at the end of book one. Fortunately, someone talked me out of that. :-)
3) Have you found the experience of writing Kinslayer easier or harder than writing Stormdancer?
Kinslayer was harder. Second books are always hard. You can set up the big conflict, but you can’t actually resolve it. You can ask some big questions, but you can’t answer many of them. If you do, what will be left for book three? I set out to make Kinslayer the The Empire Strikes Back of the series - the dark moment before the dawn, where everything that can go wrong does go wrong. Which was a lot of fun. But it’s a highwire act. And the aforementioned “starting in the wrong place” incident didn’t help.
I think I wrote about 400,000 words for a book that ended up being 160,000 long. Which is a lot of words. Fortunately, we ended up with something I’m truly proud of and that early readers are saying is better than Stormdancer. Which is awesome.
4) If the Lotus War series was turned into a film, who would you like to see playing the characters?
When I was writing the book in my head, I imagined the Tiger Clan to be more Chinese in characteristics (they’re from the south of the country) and the Kitsune as more Japanese (since they’re northerners):
Yukiko – Not sure. Maybe Kyoko Fukada?
Michi – Devon Aoki (if we had a time machine, I guess she’s too old for the character now. But she’s who I picture)
Daichi – Chow Yun Fat
Kaori – Gong Li (again, probably a little too old now. But she’s who I visualize when writing)
Aisha – Zhang Ziyi
Kin – Teppei Koike
Hana – Chiaki Kuriyama (CRAZY 88!)
Yoshi – Tatsuya Fujiwara
Buruu – I’m not sure who could do Buruu’s voice. Someone really good at shouting.
5) What do you enjoy most about being an author?
There’s nothing about it that I don’t love. I feel incredibly lucky to be doing this. There’s something in the act of creating something out of nothing, starting with a blank page and an idea, and two years later having a book, that’s indescribable. Walking into a store and seeing this thing you sat writing alone on your couch at 2am, that just a few years ago seemed an impossible dream - that’s amazing to me.
But I think the thing I enjoy most is meeting new readers. Whether it be online or in the real, doesn’t matter to me. Having a complete stranger approach me and tell me how much they enjoyed this little book thing I wrote, someone I’d never normally have met or spoken to, sometimes in countries I’ve never set foot in - that just blows me away.
So anyone who takes the time, thank you!
Click here to read an extract from Kinslayer.