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Jay Kristoff Interview

Jay Kristoff

Photo by Christopher Tovo

Hey all you Factioners! I had the amazing opportunity to talk to Jay Kristoff about the finale for his Japanese steampunk series The Lotus War. If you haven’t heard about these books yet you should do yourself a favor and pick up Stormdancer. There are plenty of mythic creatures, civil unrest, and a strong female protagonist that are expertly mixed with chainsaw swords, airships and mech-suits.

Yeah, it’s as good as it sounds.

And if you don’t believe me then go ahead and let the author speak for himself.

You’ve reached the finale for The Lotus War. What can readers expect to find as they read the end of the trilogy and come to join you past the finish line?

Secrets revealed! Betrayals within betrayals! Mad goddesses and epic battles and many! Many! Exclamation! Marks!

Kidding, there aren’t that many exclamation marks. But basically, you get all the answers the previous two books have promised – Burru’s past, and the secret of Hana and Yoshi’s family, the machinations at the heart of the Lotus Guild, the secret behind blood lotus, and some epiiiic battles that go for hundreds of pages that were incredibly fun to write.

Endsinger (cover)Was there a moment in Endsinger – other than the ending – that once you wrote it you sat back from the computer and said, “Damn, I’m good,” and sipped a glass of bourbon?

Damn man, that’s me every single day.

Have you been hanging around outside my window again? You should come inside, I got bourbon.

In our last interview you mentioned you’d rather wander while you write than be stuck to a rigid outline. Was there a lot of room for surprises in book three, and if so is there one that stands out above the rest?

Endsinger was a little different to Stormdancer or Kinslayer in that respect – when you’re wrapping up a series, you need to be a little more disciplined about tying up loose threads. The great thing about pantsing is, almost accidently, you can come up with seeds of cool ideas that become major plot points. But in the third book, there’s no real room for that – you’re mostly about wrapping up those seeds you accidently planted two books ago.

That said, I had no real idea what would happen to a few characters until I was actually writing their endings. I went into this book with one idea in my head – no one was safe. Final book in the series, son. Maybe nobody gets out of this alive.

Will you be leaving the Shima Islands for good or is there a chance you’ll be coming back for a new series?

Never say never, but I’ve no plans to return to Shima at the moment. I’m co-authoring a hard sci-fi series (book one is out next year). And I just sold in my next solo series, which is fantasy but has nothing to do with Shima. So I’m a pretty busy boy, atm.

I did four books for The Lotus Wars if you count The Last Stormdancer. That’s a pretty good inning. 🙂

What’s the dream platform you’d like to see your work expanded to – graphic novel, TV show, feature-length movie?

Movie. Papa needs a brand new Pacific Island.

Kinslayer (cover)You’ve released a couple of short stories set on the Shima Islands before. There are other authors, like Brian McClellan, that are using similar tactics to become a hybrid of traditional and self-published author. Is this a track you’ve given any thought to?

Absolutely. It’s all a matter of time for me at the moment. I’m working on two series simultaneously, and trying to do other reasonably important things like “stay married” and “get out of the goddamn house sometimes” and occasionally indulge in an eight hour session of Talisman or Twilight Imperium (priorities, see). On the side I’ve been writing a sekrit project with an aim to maybe self-publish, just so I can understand what it’s like. But, time.

It’s all time, my friend.

The steel walls come down. It’s cage match time. All characters in fantasy – which would you like to see Yukiko go up against?

Oh man, the poor girl needs a break. I put her through hell in this series and now I gotta cage-match her?

Hmm. Ok. I’m gonna go with Jon Snow. Someone needs to smack the bright right out of that pretty-boy’s eyes.

What can you tell us about your next writing project, Illuminae, and how has work on a sci-fi thriller differed from The Lotus War?

Illuminae is the most exciting project I’ve ever worked on. I mean, I love the Lotus War and always will, but Illuminae is next level stuff. Some days I have to pinch myself – the ideas Random House are letting us bring to this project are amazing. We’re doing things I’ve never seen done in a novel before. We’re challenging the very idea of what a book can be. It’s either genius or complete madness, I’m not sure which. I guarantee you’ve never seen anything like it. And I realize that’s big talk. But yeah, this book . . .

I’m co-writing the series with another Melbourne author, Amie Kaufman, so that’s been a very new experience for me. Co-authoring is a very different game?plotting is intensive and deeply collaborative and these books are . . . complex to say the least. It’s been a real challenge, but just amazing amounts of fun, and our editor and the team at Knopf & Random House are awesome.

In terms of writing sci-fi vs fantasy, I think the core tenets of both are universal (pardon the pun) i.e., story and character. A hero is a hero, whether they’re in plate mail or a hazmat suit. The rules are different, but the game is the same.

Stormdancer (cover)You’ve got the wisdom of a trilogy behind you now. What words can you impart to hopeful writers?

Believe in yourself. That’s honestly what it comes down to – well, that and a lot of luck, and luck is a factor almost beyond your control. The rules you can learn, the discipline you can learn, the craft you can learn. But you’ll never learn any of it if you don’t believe you are doing exactly what you should be doing. Screw the naysayers, the people who tell you it’s too hard, you’re no good, you’ll never make it.

Naysayers are your enemy.

Endsinger is on shelves November 25, 2014 and I can say from the advance copy I read it’s everything I hoped for and more in an ending to The Lotus War. So first off, congratulations on that. Secondly, I can’t thank you enough for taking the time to answer my questions. Is there anything else you’d like to add before you leave?

Aw, thanks! Really glad you enjoyed it!

And thanks in kind to you awesome folks at Fantasy-Faction. You’ve been staunch supporters of the series over the years, and I owe you a drink or two when we meet in the real.

See you in the next series!

You can learn more about Endsinger and The Lotus War series, as well as his upcoming titles on Jay’s website or you can follow him on Twitter.

Jay Kristoff - Blog Tour

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4 Comments

  1. Jesslyn H says:

    Let me repeat the advice to grab this series. It is fantastic. I think I’ve reread and/or listened to the ebooks/audiobooks at least 3 times.

  2. It’s good to see some Twilight Imperium fans in the writing profession!

    Jay always seems like such a great guy. And an excellent writer.

  3. Steven C says:

    Gee, I tell ya, it’s really nice to see Aussie authors get great exposure like this. While us Aussie’s are pretty well known for swiggin’ stubbies and barbequing snags, we’re not really well known for our fantasy literature. Keep up the great work Jay.

  4. […] and motivational to talk to as Jay. If you’ve not heard him chat before, check out the interview we did around the time he completed his Lotus War trilogy and pay special attention to the […]

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