On Friday, Harvard Bookstore had Marie Rutkoski and Kristin Cashore!
Kristin adds that Marie is now an NY best seller and everyone clapped. We were also very relieved that Marie could make it. Last year it snowed so she got stuck in NY. It was very sad.
They rock paper scissors to find out who gets to read an exert of their books first.
While Marie reads, she mentions that, thematically, all the books deal with the clashing of honesty and religions. And in this particular part, they're being completely honest for the first time.
She also mentions that Arin is very religious and Kestrel is an atheist
Kristen asks Marie: Craft question- You use beautiful imagery to show characters feelings.You have a way of showing things through dialogue. In a scene were Roshar and Kestrel argue and she demands her apology. Then later he does apologize when she doesn't say anything. There's no fill in of feelings. Just words for the reader to get the sense of how they feel and what they look like. When you're writing, is that how your first draft is. Or do you write in the feelings and then strip them out?
M: Well you would know, Kristen, you read my first drafts! (laugh)
There have been times Kristin has said to cut things out. But that particular scene stayed the same.
The book isn't just words on a page. But the absences. Not just text. But Subtext. (I love this!)
Marie asks Kristin: It's striking how you put personal trauma along with social trauma of the whole country together in your book. How do you balance the individual hurt and country's hurt?
K: I didn't notice the dynamic at the time while writing it.
It helped that her protagonist's mind was personally attacked and she was the queen. It also took her three years to write and one to revise. Bitterblue was supposed to be her happy bright book. In which Bitterblue can solve fun puzzle! Then it turned into...what it is.
Inspiration on making characters:
Kestrel and Marie both like games so much that its almost annoying for the people around them. Like thinking of relationships while playing games. Marie Love characters who are clever and felt there wasn't as many female YA characters that were strategists.
Kristin was influence by Tamora Pierce. There wasn't many kick ass girls that she could read about so she wrote one. She switched gender roles with Po and Katsa, who both came to mind fully formed.
The games bite and sting and borderlands:
Bite and Sting is Poker meets Mahjon
Borderlands is more like Chess.
Significance is to help gesture towards two cultures. Borderlands is east. Bite sting is imperial.
Why does Kestrel plays piano?
Strategic choice. Not portable. If it was portable it wouldn't be in the way so much. Road block between her and her father.
Talk about battle scenes:
Marie's researched involved how battles were fought in industrial times. What cannons and guns can do. Wikipedia was her friend. Her husband was in military. Hes french and was super into it. So he was really helpful with battles too.
The dynamic between Arin and Kestrel are constantly opposites in the first two books. Did you also mean for their friendships to be that way too? Like how Arin's friendship with Roshar grow and Kestrels with Jess diminishes?
It was important for Arin to have a friend. He very much wants a friend and he's trusting and Marie really wanted him to have a trustworthy friend.
Kestel's friendship with Jess was more to show that sometimes friendships just don't last. And they probably will never get back together ever again lol.
Katsa and Bitterblue talking about sex was the best and most fun relationship to write for Kristin. Kind of like a big little sister dynamic.
The topic of diversity. Has there been issues with how you write the characters and how the market does?
M: her story is about colonialism. Colonizing in the middle east.
There are three different cultures. Who look different. It was important for her main character to be white because of the colonizing story.
Its definitely an inter racial story.
K: If I could go back I would be a lot more thoughtful and explicit. I feel like its my fault that i wasn't explicit enough.
M: sometimes you can be explicit and it still doesn't do anything like in the better know series hunger games with Rue. She hopes it changes in the industry more. Grateful for the we need diverse books reach.
How did you create these interesting different worlds:
K: With Graceling. I never wrote a fantasy and was flying by the seat of my pants. After when she wrote fire she really made a point to sit down and figure it all out. She put in a forest and a mountain because they were getting to a place too quickly.
Then in bitter blue she needed people to move quickly but there were mountains! So she added tunnels. Wanted to give landscape a mood while writing.
M: i wanted to write a fantasy that felt real. High fantasy with no magic. Politics and social dynamics that would feel real. Wanted magic feeling where reader would know that its fantasy. Masker moths were convenient to plot. Dreams get echoed. Wanted to have plausible deniability about the gods. Even when Arin is conversing with the god of death.
What writing next?
K: always asked editor what shes allowed to say. On fifth draft. A book about grief. An orphan invited to a house. Wanders around the house and meets the people and notices something is off. The story breaks off in 5 different stories and different genres. They're all going on at the same time and you can see the other stories going on at the same time.
M: Says she's read it and its brilliant. She doesn't know what shes writing next. But could write something in the same world as The Winner's Curse (I can only hope!)
Got my picture with Marie!