Wednesday, November 28, 2012

The Interview of Laini and Angela

That would be the shameless use of the word "exclusive," right ther'.

Laini took time from her U.S. tour to reply to small-fry me and my questions about her latest book, Days of Blood and Starlight -- which you really should have read by now.
Review copy + access to Liani = via the Ruby-nator at Hachette.

Q&A with Laini Taylor
Me: Where do you draw inspiration for the entertaining dialogue and humour between your characters (Karou and Zuzana, in particular)?  It is such a relief to read puns and gibes that don’t beg for a satirical “badum tish” to follow afterwards.
Laini: Okay, I had to look up “badum tish”—I never knew that was what that was called! (Thank you for that :) ). And thank you for saying so. I can’t say exactly where I draw inspiration for those dialogues. They are one of the most fun and easy parts of writing these books, which is a big change for me from my earlier days of trying to write novels. Dialogue used to terrify me. I would sit and stew over what people talk about, and I would try to contrive things for them to say, just to be saying something, and it always rang false. The best exercise for me in getting over this was the graphic novel I did with my husband Jim Di Bartolo (The Drowned, 2004; I wrote, Jim illustrated). A play or screenplay would have served as well: the challenge of telling a story primarily through dialogue. The thing I learned doing that, and writing my first novel, Blackbringer, was that the key to writing dialogue is to create situations in which the characters have things to talk about (so simple!), and to convey as much as possible of the narrative that way, versus through exposition or description. Dialogue is the place where a book is the most alive and makes the most direct connection with the reader, and so I try to use it as much as possible, even looking at pages to make sure there are not too long of passages between dialogue exchanges. The Karou-Zuzana dialogues are just really fun. I am sure that they are not all strictly necessary to the plot, and some writers would be more restrained—some writers are very conscientious that everything in the novel serve a strict narrative purpose, but I am not a minimalist. I like plenty of flavoring. I overseason food when I cook, and I put as much color and fun in my books as I want, because that is so much of the joy of it. Karou is in so many ways a gift to my own inner-seventeen-year-old, and perhaps I am imagining/remembering hanging out with my friends back then. In my previous book, Lips Touch, there were teen characters Kizzy and her friends in the story “Goblin Fruit” and that was my first experience of writing contemporary teens. As with Karou and Zuzana, it was instantly fun and silly. Obviously, my inner-seventeen-year-old is alive and well!

Me: It’s clear from your books’ narratives that you’ve taken your own advice (given on-blog) to consider all story possibilities and be open to them.  Are there any un-taken turns in the Daughter labyrinth you can share with us?  Characters who got the chop?  Outcomes you decided against, late in the game? 
Laini: Hm. Let’s see … There was a time when I tried to write DAYS with Karou and the rebels still in Eretz as the book opened. There were chapters with a terrible seraph attack and battle that drove them from their hiding place, to seek refuge in the human world. I ended up choosing to take that out. Oh, and for a long time at the beginning of writing this book, I tried skipping ahead six months in time, in what is clearly (clear to me now) an effort to skip over the hard parts, the war, and get back to a more whimsical tone like in DAUGHTER. I had to gradually admit that the months I was trying to skip were the story I needed to tell. I was simply afraid to take it on: to write war. But I got up my courage and started again, with the challenge of writing the darker days, honoring the grim reality I had thrust my characters into, but still making it a fun read. I think—hope—I succeeded!

Me: I am not at all surprised to learn Universal has thrown its hand up to claim the right to translate your work for the screen.  Have you ever fancifully toyed with casting ideas since?  Or not so fancifully?  Are there any mentally-earmarked actors you’d be willing to share?
What now?  How did this get here?
Emily Browning as Karou…simply insert Bain’s cabin as backdrop and a few prop changes
A complete mystery, but since it’s appeared, eh?  Eh?  /nudge
Laini: Ha ha! Well, Emily Browning is beautiful and talented, but the truth is, I don’t really have any casting dreams. We’re just not there yet in the process, though it is so much fun to imagine :).

Me: Do you already have a story sleeping inside you for after Daughter?  Or perhaps crying to be told from the wings?  Or maybe something not so separate; I know I, for one, would welcome a centuries-earlier Eretz prequel… 
Laini: There is an idea percolating for a stand-alone novel I might try after this trilogy is complete. It would be very different from my other books, and I’m still not sure yet that it is the next in line. There are so many ideas in line, and the line shifts all the time. As for a prequel, it’s a possibility, but unlikely. Prequels are tricky. Once you know the ultimate outcome, it’s hard to generate the kind of suspense that I like. That said, it would be interesting to see the slave uprising, and to meet the Warlord and Brimstone when they were younger. Possibly just as a story or novella … Hm. Who knows?

Me: Will you tickle all linguists’ happy bones everywhere with another dose of parallel construction for the final title?!
Laini: It would be great and also very confusing if the title were to consist of a new arrangement of D, S, and B words! I have begun making some idle word lists as I write, but I haven’t settled on anything yet. The only thing I can say for sure is that it will be The Something of Something and Something!

Thank you for the questions!! :)

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