Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Giveaway & Interview with Jay Kristoff, author of STORMDANCER

Quick Stats on Jay Kristoff
  • Jay regularly references Firefly and Serenity and that's pretty much the most important think you need to know about him. You guys know that anyone who does that is all right in my book.
  • His blog makes me laugh out loud. You can also stalk him on Twitter here.
  • STORMDANCER is his debut, and it's a steampunk Japanese story, which makes me both jealous (because, eff it, I wanted to write a steampunk Japanese story!) and also incredibly happy because now there's a steampunk Japanese story in the world. Steampunk Japanese. I don't think I said that enough in this bulletpoint. 
  • On Jay's website, he claims he's 6'7". Which makes him the tallest author I know. I kind of want to see him do an event with Kiersten White now. For reasons. Height reasons. And also because they're both hilarious.
  • STORMDANCER comes out on September 18--you should probably look into pre-ordering it now.

We can read all about your life from your bio in the jacket flap of your book. So, what's a completely random fact about you that most people don't know?
My wife and I eloped in Rome. If you’re getting stressed about planning a wedding, I sincerely recommend it. Coolest and most romantic city in the world.

As a kid, what was your favorite book? Have your tastes changed since growing up?
Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak. It’s still my favorite book of all time.

Your book, STORMDANCER, is a Japanese-inspired steampunk. Which came first: the Asian setting, or the steampunk world?
Steampunk, I think. I really liked the SP aesthetic and wanted to do something with it, but I felt like Victorian England had been done a lot. Too many frock coats and cups o’ tea, pip pip what ho guv’nor. The world had plenty of amazing cultures during the 19th century an author could riff off, and as far as I knew, nobody had done Japan. And here we are :)

It's the inevitable question: what inspired STORMDANCER?
A dream. But that’s the lamest answer ever. So if someone can think of a better story, I’ll totally go with that. Something involving sexy ninjas and some kind of secret destiny would be sweet.

One of the things that stood out to me in STORMDANCER was the totally unique and immersive world. How did you go about developing it?
Drank lots of saké. Ate pocky until my eyes bled. Had my friends yell curse words at me in Japanese while I trawled Wikipedia and watched Seven Samurai and 13 Assassins over and over and overrrrrr.

Can you tell us a little bit about the process--particularly the timeline--of writing & publishing STORMDANCER?
I started writing it in January 2010. First draft took around six months. I actually trunked it about eight chapters in - my previous attempt at a novel had been a very dark and angsty vampire novel (nobody sparkled, everybody died) and I felt a little silly going from that to a story about a telepathic samurai girl and her friend the griffin. But something about the characters and the setting dragged me back.

I started querying in August. I had four offers of rep by November. We went on sub around Thanksgiving, and by Jan 2011 we were in a three-way auction, which was very strange and very cool. As for what happened to the last 18 months, I’m not really sure. Aliens may have been involved. Or possibly sexy ninjas.

If your reader could only take away one emotion, theme, or idea from STORMDANCER, what would you want it to be? 
Open your eyes. Open your mind. Close your hand and make a fist.

What's the most surprising thing you've learned since becoming a writer? 
Apparently, people think I’m funny. Which is kinda baffling to me, because in real life, I’m as funny as a funeral. Like, the funeral of a school bus full of kids and cute puppies. Eaten by werewolves. On their birthdays. And then they exploded. BOOM.

Tragic :(

Beyond the typical--never give up, believe in yourself--what would be the single best advice you'd like to give another writer?
Never finish a writing session by finishing a scene. If you leave the scene hanging, when you sit down to write the next day, you’ll be able to pick it up immediately where you left off. You won’t be stuck sitting there, looking at the flashing Cursor of Doom™ wondering wtf happens next.

What do you think are your strongest and weakest points in writing?
I think I write nice violence (if violence can ever be nice). I’m never happier than when something is disintegrating or getting disemboweled.

My weak point is definitely sex scenes. I feel ridiculous writing them. The whole time I’m writing them, I’m imagining my mother reading them, which is the death of happy-pants.

Any specific websites or info you’d like me to include somewhere in the interview?
Stormdancer is released on 18 September. If you could link my twitter feed (@misterkristoff) and website (www.jaykristoff.com) that’d be sweet.

And, because Jay is awesome, he's offering a giveaway of STORMDANCER--and he's SIGNING it--to a lucky winner! Just fill out the Rafflecopter below for a chance to win. Open internationally.

a Rafflecopter giveaway
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