Thursday, April 17, 2014

Interview: Laini Taylor, Author of 'Dreams of Gods and Monsters'

by Jessie Potts)

(Photo: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers)

The awesome Daughter of Smoke and Bone trilogy just finished up this month with the release of Dreams of Gods & Monsters. The books are filled with demons, monsters, epic love and an even bigger threat to Karou and her people. I loved the series, and the audio books are in my library in the queue. If you haven't, start with Daughter of Smoke & Bone. There is also a really splendid short that goes between the second and third books. I definitely recommend for fans of the weird and amazing. : )

Jessie: Welcome to HEA, Laini! How does it feel to be finishing up such an amazing trilogy?

Laini: (Thank you :)) Relief, mainly. I DID IT! It's a big undertaking, and there was this haunting anxiety — spanning years — that it might not come together. So when it did, it was an incredible feeling, somewhat undercut by exhaustion. I also felt released, because so much of my own life for these years had been poured into these characters' lives. And there was the sadness of parting with them, and the excitement of starting fresh, beginning to dream up something new.

Jessie: Karou is such an interesting character! How did you come up with her?

Laini: She's a rare case (for me) of a character that hatched fully formed. I'd been having a miserable time trying to write a different book, and finally gave myself a day to write something just for fun, with no plan. What came out — of nowhere — was this blue-haired teenage girl arguing with her father, who wasn't human. They were incredibly alive to me from that first moment.

Jessie: Where did the titles come from? I love them!

Laini: It wasn't easy! I really have to credit my publishers for titling Daughter of Smoke & Bone. My working title wasn't feasible (it was Wishbone; I had no idea it was a TV show about a dog!), and also just wasn't that evocative. The crew at Little Brown created truly exhaustive lists of options, different dynamic word combinations, etc., and so did I, but this title was their brainchild. I wasn't even sure about it at first, but now I love it. With the next two books, using the same structure, I was able to come up with titles I loved.

Jessie: I've heard rumors of a movie adaptation?

Laini: Yes! It's at Universal, produced by the Roth Co., known for such big beautiful fantasy movies as Alice in Wonderland and the forthcoming Maleficent with Angelina Jolie. We have a director and a script, and it's a very exciting time!

MORE ON HEA: Check in on another producer of 'Alice in Wonderland'

Jessie: What are you working on now?

Laini: Currently I'm finishing up a short story for the holiday romance anthology My True Love Gave to Me, while trying to decide between two ideas for my next novel. One is fantasy and one is sci-fi, and I change my mind from day to day.

Jessie: Any funny/good stories from editing and or writing?

Laini: Um, this one time I sat at a desk for 23 hours straight and finished the book? True story, not very interesting, but it was only possible (as I'm not a valiant sleep-resistor; some people can power through, but I start to yawn and it's all over. Usually.) because I was totally gripped and possessed by the ending. Something big happens at the very end, the very end (not the epilogue, but the final numbered chapter) that I didn't predict, and it was better than caffeine. It was adrenaline.

Jessie: Now for some rapid-fire questions.

Salty or sweet?

Laini: Sweet. Preferably of the chocolate or mango variety.

Favorite writing snack?

Laini: An apple at about 10 keeps me going till lunchtime; what a boring healthy answer, huh?

If you were any candy, which would you be?

Laini: I don't really think I want to be candy. If I had to, though, something that gets licked, not chewed? (A lyric from Frog & Toad: The Musical: "And I bet that it hurts being chewed …")

Current book you're reading?

Laini: Howl's Moving Castle by Diana Wynne Jones. The Miyazaki film is one of my all-time-favorite movies, but I've never read the book!

Book you're most looking forward to this year?

Laini: So many! In the Shadows by my husband, Jim Di Bartolo and Kiersten White; The Diviners sequel by Libba Bray; Ruin & Rising by Leigh Bardugo; Isla & the Happily Ever After by Stephanie Perkins; The Fire Wish by Amber Lough …

Favorite childhood book?

Laini: Rat's Magic by Wayne Anderson, now out of print. So cool, it's a gorgeous, dark picture book about a magician rat, a witch that lives in a dragon's belly, and a bluebird that lays an egg full of fairies.

Favorite book boyfriend?

Laini: I'm old-school. I'm going with Aragorn: noble and faithful and totally bad-ass.

Favorite villain?

Laini: Sticking with the theme: Gollum. He's not the big bad, but, wow, is he nasty. And yet I empathize with him. He's the inspiration for many of my own second-string villains.

Last movie you saw in theaters?

Laini: Captain America: The Winter Soldier. My husband made me promise months ago that we could see it opening day.

Cowboy or Highlander?

Laini: Highlander. (There can be only one. :))

If you were any paranormal creature, which would you be?

Laini: Can I choose one of my own? I'd like to be a Kirin like Madrigal and Ziri, and have enormous bat wings and long, graceful antelope horns. I really, really want wings. This wish manifests itself in my books A LOT. In fact, maybe it's the whole reason I write: because I can't fly.

An epic one-liner to leave readers with?

Laini: "Sometimes you kill just one person, and it takes care of everything." — The Rabbi's Cat by Joann Sfar (terrible advice — though true — given by a lion)

Find out more about Laini and her books at

Jessie Potts, also known as Book Taster, adores books in all forms. She also does reviews for Bitten by Books and RT Book Reviews and is an intern at Entangled Publishing. You can follow her on Twitter (@BookTaster).