I hope this interview gets a lot of fans. Kristin is a great person and a big writer. Thanks for all, Kristin and Patricia (Roca editorial) for your colaboration :)
Kristin Cashore has written for The Horn Book Guide, The Looking Glass: An Online Children’s Literature Journal, and Children’s Literature in Education. She received a master’s degree in children’s literature from Simmons College. Graceling is Ms.Cashore’s first novel. She lives in Jacksonville, Florida.
JR: Kristin, I am thankful that you agreed to do this interview in the name of all of our readers and of Juvenil Romántica, when you are in the midst of the promotion of Graceling and about to launch Fire. My first question is about the whole process of the publication of your first book, how have you felt about it?
Hi Eva! Thanks for your questions!
The publication has been overwhelming—in a good way. I never thought I would write a book that would sell into so many languages (15 other than English at this point)! I’m incredibly grateful and humbled. The hardest part is finding quiet time within myself to focus on writing. Having a book out is so exciting that it’s hard for me to calm down sometimes!
JR: In Juvenil Romántica we have an special section about foreign romantic fiction. Your book was amongst our pick months before it was even published in Spanish, and our readers reviews were ravishing. Do you remember any review/commentary about your work because it has surprised, thrilled or touched you specially?
That is so kind of you, and I want to take this opportunity to thank your readers for their reviews! The truth is that while it’s exciting to get reviews in the big trade journals and newspapers, the moments where I’ve nearly cried from happiness have been when I’ve gotten emails from individual readers who love the book. I got an email once from a teenager who told me she never, ever finishes novels because she has dyslexia and reading is really hard for her. But she worked her way all the way through Graceling, because she loved it, and was determined to finish. I felt so happy to be bringing her happiness with my book. It’s amazing to learn that you’ve touched someone’s life in a good way. It might be the best thing about being a published writer.
JR: There’s a whole world full of magic in Graceling, but mostly I think it’s about feelings and passions that drive the reader through the novel. Where did you find your inspiration? Was there a lot of research?
I love hearing you say that, because Graceling started as vague feelings and passions for me—that’s how the idea came to me. More specifically, the book grew from conversations two characters were having in my head. Well, actually, they were more like arguments than conversations! Unsurprisingly, Katsa came to me fighting—arguing, with another character who grew into Po. These two characters, when they first appeared in my head, were furious with each other! My job was to listen to them argue, and figure out what they were so upset about, and what was going on in their world, and what that world was like. Graceling grew from the conflict between Katsa and Po. I think it would be fair to say that feelings and passions between people were my inspiration.
JR: Graceling is rich in vocabulary, expressions and, most of all, in imagination. Have you studied, participated in any workshops, readied yourself (by reading what books, for example) to perfect your prose and personal style?
I studied children’s literature at Simmons College’s Center for the Study of Children’s Literature in Boston, Massachusetts. Near the end of my studies, I took a creative writing class, and after that I was completely hooked on creative writing. I finished my studies with an independent creative writing project, which I did under the mentorship of writer Liza Ketchum, who is a wonderful teacher! Since then, I’ve worked at my writing almost every day. I’ve also started reading like a writer—marking down passages I like, and trying to learn from their example. There are also a few books on writing that have helped me a lot: for example, Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott, Writing Down the Bones by Natalie Goldberg, and Self-Editing for Fiction Writers by Rennie Browne and Dave King.
Mostly, though, I’ve just written, lots and lots. The best way to learn to write is to write. :o)
JR: Who are your favourite authors or books? Films? Foods?
Here are some young adult (YA) fantasy favorites: I've never read anything by American writers Tamora Pierce or Robin McKinley I didn't like. With Pierce, the Alanna quartet is a great place to start; with McKinley, The Blue Sword, The Hero and the Crown, and Deerskin are among my personal favorites. British writer Philip Pullman's His Dark Materials cannot be beat. American Cynthia Voigt has an inter-related quartet of books called the Novels of the Kingdom that aren't technically fantasy (nothing impossible happens), but they have a medieval fantasy feel. They are: Jackaroo; On Fortune's Wheel; The Wings of a Falcon; and Elske. I've also just started reading the Megan Whalen Turner Attolia books of American Megan Whalen Turner, starting with The Thief -- WONDERFUL.
Digressing slightly from fantasy, New Zealander Margaret Mahy writes beautiful YA magical realism; The Tricksters is one of my favorite books. Australians Melina Marchetta and Sonya Hartnett are two of my favorite writers of YA realism. And for plain old women-having-romantic-adventures-in-beautiful-locales stories (not YA, usually not fantasy, nonetheless fantastic), do you know the novels of English writer Mary Stewart? They're a little dated, but Nine Coaches Waiting will always be in my top ten. In addition to her adventure tales she wrote a wonderful series that's a King Arthur retelling from Merlin's point of view (starting with The Crystal Cave).
I read all kinds of books, of course. I love mysteries, for example, and one of my favorite books of all time is Kristin Lavransdatter by Norwegian Sigrid Undset.
By the way, I’d love to hear some recommendations of books from Spain! Making that list right now, I was struck by how little literature I read that isn’t originally published in English, which is a shame.
And I’m partial to Italian food, Thai food, sushi, and cupcakes. :o)
JR: What is your favourite past-time when you are not writing?
Probably sitting in the window, reading a book, and drinking a cup of tea! And after that, taking a nap. =^.^=
JR: Graceling would be perfect for a movie. Is there a project to do so? What actors would you like playing Po and Katsa?
My agent is working on selling the film rights, but we don’t have a deal yet. You’re not the first person to ask me who I think should play the characters, and I never have an answer. No one strikes me as just right; they exist in my head, you see, and even I’m not entirely sure what they look like! If a movie is ever made, I don’t think I would like to be involved. It would be hard to do a project with my characters in it, but not be in control of the final product. I think if a movie ever happens, I’ll give them my blessing and then step out of the way!
JR: There’s one scene I like particularly. In the woods, when Katsa and Po are fighting and Katsa discovers Po’s tatoos, he says, rather arrogantly, they are for his future wife to enjoy. How did you create Po? What characteristics did you decide were basic for him?
That’s a really hard question to answer. He came to me a certain way, and I just tried to remain true to his character. I definitely wanted some arrogance in his character, and I wanted him to be shiny—made of light, in a way ^_^. And it was important that he have a deeper side, a quieter side full of understanding, and also loneliness.
JR: We’ll be enjoying Fire briefly, the prequel that begins years before the story in Graceling and where we discover the reality behind the evil King. What’s the love story in there? And in Bitterblue?
Well now, you know I can’t answer that question, because it would give away spoilers! (I never, ever give away spoilers.) I won’t give any details, but I will say that there is a love story—more than one, really—in Fire. Bitterblue is still a work in progress, so I’m not going to say anything at all about it. Sorry I’m so close-lipped! :o)
JR: Have you got any other projects apart from the Graceling series?
Not yet. But I do have an idea for a magical realism novel I’d like to write, and I’d also like to try mysteries at some point. Who knows what’s in the future?
JR: There’s a question we always ask published authors in Juvenil Romántica: could you give any piece of advice to those writers who haven’t yet published their work?
Yes: WRITE, WRITE, WRITE. The best way to get better at writing is to write. Also, forgive yourself for writing badly. All of my first drafts are bad, really, really bad! But writing is about getting something down, even if it’s bad—and then taking however long it takes to prune it and tinker with it until it starts to shine on the page the way it shines in your heart.
Another piece of advice: don’t ever let anyone tell you there’s only one way to write. Like, “You have to write first thing in the morning,” or, “You have to write for at least 5 hours at a time,” or, “You have to write all the way through to the end of the draft without going back and making any changes.” There are no rules that work for everyone. There are a million ways to write! One of the challenges every writer must face is figuring out what his or her unique way is.
My last piece of advice: there will always be voices in your head telling you that you’re doing it wrong, or that what you’re writing is crap. That’s fine; it’s unavoidable. Listen to them with your tongue in your cheek and KEEP WRITING ANYWAY. As a friend of mine says, NEVER SURRENDER!
JR: Are you part of any social webs or do you have a blog to communicate with your fans? Could you tell us which one/s?
My blog / website is called “This Is My Secret,” which is a reference to Margaret Mahy’s novel The Tricksters. It’s at http://kristincashore.blogspot.com/. I communicate a lot with readers there. Come visit!
JR: You already have a lot of fans in Spain and we’d love to have a signed copy. Are there any plans for you to come to Spain soon?
Nothing definite, but we’re bouncing around the idea of a European tour eventually, maybe once both Graceling and Fire are out. I hope it works out! I’ve been to Spain once before—what a beautiful country! I’d love to visit again, this time to meet readers! :o)
JR: It’s been a pleasure. Thanks a lot for giving up a bit of your time for us. We wish you a lot of success and rest assured you’ll have all our support to continue creating such beautiful works as Graceling.
Oh, thank you so much! You’re too kind.
Interview by Eva Rubio (Cirial)