It's Days of Blood & Starlight release week! And as such, Laini Taylor is virtually dropping by FYA as part of her official Blog Tour. All of the blogs on the tour were asked to pick a random page number from the book and Laini took a quote from that page proceeded to give us some insight on both what was going on in the story and the writing process at that point. So read below to hear what she has to say!
p. 44 “But she wasn’t Madrigal anymore, or chimaera. She was Karou. Human. Sort of. And she had no time for dreams.”
Where is Karou, as this book begins? After her dramatic departure at the end of Daughter, what is she doing? Well, I’ll tell you: you won’t know right off the bat, and I don’t want to give it away. The above passage comes from the moment where you will find out. Page 44? What’s going on for the first 43 pages? Other things, other people. Pee balloons and angels sparring and museum robbery and a massacre under an aqueduct and a healthy dose of Zuzana, and even a Monty Python reference.
It’s a steady build-up, this beginning, and the key question is: Where is Karou?
The beginning went through a lot of changes. I didn’t scrap chapters and rewrite; more like I kept adding new chapters onto the front, so that what was Chapter 1 for almost the entire writing time eventually became Chapter 11. It’s kind of funny, because this is the second time I’ve written a book 2 in a series (the first being Silksinger), and the same exact thing happened with that book. I kept adding more onto the front. In so many ways, the experience of writing these two books was similar: similarly fraught!
It’s impossible (caveat: impossible for me, anyway) to know the perfect beginning when I’m still at the beginning. It is necessary to feel the shape and weight of the story as a whole to make that final call. Sometimes I get it right on the first try (the beginning of Daughter is as it ever was (though the first three paragraphs of description were added at the request of my editor, Alvina Ling. And I’m so glad she made the request, because I love those paragraphs.)
There are certain things a beginning has to accomplish. First: the hook. The thing (or things) that will keep the reader reading. One of a writer’s tasks is to plant questions in the readers mind and tease them forward, only satisfying them by answering certain questions once others have been laid in place. The challenge is: to give the reader as few places to close the book as possible. Preferably none.
Other things the beginning of a book must do: establish everything—the scenario, setting, characters, mood, everything—folding it all into the storytelling so the reader doesn’t feel like they’re being force-fed information. In subsequent books in a series, the task shifts from establishing everything to reminding the reader of what has already been established. It would be nice to think that everyone will have reread book I immediately before reading book 2, but I do not take that for granted, so I try to find ways to remind the reader of where they left off, and bring them as quickly as possible back into the fully engrossed state that comes in the middle of a story. (It’s interesting to think how the experience of reading a series is totally different if you wait until it is complete to begin, but I sometimes have to remind people that if everyone did that, no series would ever be completed! They’d be canceled by their publishers!)
So, I am still avoiding answering the question: Where is Karou? What is she doing now that her life has been torn apart and pulled inside out? Ah. Well, you’ll have to read to find out. But the passage above does touch on the notion that she has changed: she suddenly finds herself with the experience of two very different lives co-existing within her, and she has to get used to that, and to cope with her grief and her guilt in the aftermath of Terrible Things, and figure out what to do now.
There are bruises involved, and perhaps a “giant sand castle full of monsters.”
Thanks Laini for stopping by and giving us some insight into the begining of DOBAS! You can visit the other stops of her Blog Tour on the following days:
And Little, Brown is giving away a copy of Days of Blood & Starlight to one of our readers. To enter, leave a comment letting us know what wish you'd spend a gavriel on. I will randomly pick one winner by end of day November 9th. US residents only.