A Chat with JAY KRISTOFF!

7:00:00 AM



Hello hello everyone! If you've been around my blog and Twitter in the last few weeks, you'll know just exactly how much a little book called Nevernight has totally and utterly destroyed me. As one does, I took to the interwebs to express my emotional despair to the one and only creator of this world and the characters within. I got to chatting with Mister Kristoff himself and reached out to him for an interview. He kindly obliged, huzzah! Yeah. I just said "huzzah"...

Nonetheless, below you will find my questions in black and Jay's answers in blood red, of course!

Huge thanks to Jay for taking the time to chat with me about his book.

You can find my review here, and find Nevernight for preorder on Amazon, The Book Depository, and add it to your TBR on Goodreads.

Nevernight is released into the world on August 9th.


·     The mythology and world building of Nevernight is so deeply fleshed out and intricately detailed, the world within the book feels so familiar and yet is wholly unique. What influenced you the most when creating the world Mia lives in, and how long did it take you to really lay out the foundation of this universe? What this book has made me think of most similarly are video games such as Assassin's Creed, Dishonored, Bioshock Infinite, and Skyrim; yet the imagery and mythology, everything down to the social hierarchy is still so unique.

If you look to the heart of them, most great SciFi/Fantasy worlds have one key difference that defines them above all others. A Song of Ice and Fire has a weather cycle where summer and winter last for years at a time, Dune has the Spice Melange, Name of the Wind has Sympathy. In Nevernight, the key difference is the day night cycle, which sees around two and half years of daylight followed by a couple of weeks of nighttime. That one difference influenced everything in the world—religion particularly, but also the economics, politics, and day to day (or turn to turn) life of the average citizen.

It took me around two years to really get the world right. I’ve been writing Nevernight on and off since 2012.

·    The Great Twitter Genre Debate of July 2016 has certainly branded Nevernight as a wholly unique book. Pubbed by an Adult imprint with a 16 year old main character and certainly full of mature themes, Nevernight is quite daring in some circles and can almost be branded as a pioneer to the literary world. What is your stance on what constitutes a YA book, and is there something you want your readers (of all ages) to take away from this debate?

It’s a good question, with a pretty long and complicated answer. YA means a lot of different things to a lot of different people, but in truth, there is only two common elements across any YA book you can find out there:

  •     The MC is a teenager.
  •     The publisher says it’s a YA book.

That’s it. There are no genre conventions that unite YA books. They’re not all:
·        Coming of age books (eg, Katniss in tHG—at the start of the book, she’s already the primary caregiver for her family, and has views about herself, her government, and the the system she lives in which don’t change at all. She doesn’t “come of age”, she’s already functioning as an adult).
·        Books that deal with teen issues (again, what “teen issues” is Katniss dealing with in tHG?)

YA isn’t a genre. It certainly isn’t a rating system. YA doesn’t mean PG. Books are YA because their publishers say they are. YA is a concept that exists by fiat. It’s a demographic, marketed to by publishing houses.

What would I like readers to take away from the debate? READ WHATEVER THE FUCK YOU WANT.

·     I notice you're a big rock music fan! I always try to put together my own playlist or "soundtrack" for a book when I read, and Nevernight is quite the beast to tackle for this purpose. What artists, bands, and albums did you listen to the most while writing? Or are you someone who prefers instrumental music or silence while writing?

I do listen to a lot of rock, but not often while I’m actually writing—the lyrics pull me out of my own words. So the music I listened to most while writing NN is by an Italian pianist named Ludovico Einaudi. He’s brilliant. Sweeping, wonderful, dark, beautiful stuff. I couldn’t have written the book without him. Key tracks would be Primavera, Divenire and particularly, Eros (which I think of as Mia’s theme song).

But I listen to a bunch of heavy bands while brainstorming. Big influences on NN were Bring Me the Horizon, Tool, Karnivool and Type O Negative.

·        Side note: I totally imagine you as a My Chemical Romance fan. If my intuition is correct, which album is your favorite and why?

Yeah I love MCR. J Such a shame they broke up. It’s The Black Parade for me, all the way. That album is just wall to wall great. I think I actually got a bit misty eyed the first time I heard the song Welcome to the Black Parade. That band had The Feels.

      (The Black Parade is my favorite album as well!)
You're so interactive with your readers when it comes to social media. Is this part of the job description or your decision to bring the work and your audience closer together?  And is it something of a full-time job as a result? I know your readers certainly appreciate the contact, it makes the work seem that much more real and not like some faceless, nameless android suddenly spawned a book.

I do really try and engage with everyone. I really love talking with readers and meeting them on tour. It gets harder and harder as time goes on and I get more followers, though, because as lovely as it to chat with you guys, I’m sure you’d rather I wrote you more books! J

I tend to do my twitter replies in big bursts lately, when I have a chunk of free time. I might go quiet for a couple of days, then take a train ride to the city and tackle hundreds of @’s in one hit. So don’t be worried if I don’t respond right away.

·     How does writing something so detailed alone compare to writing with Amie, for instance? Aside from the obvious co-author split of ideas and having someone to constantly bounce ideas off of, and whatnot. And on that note, when writing with Amie on the Illuminae Files, who do you find is the "good cop" writer and who is the "bad cop"? That is to say, who does the most character killing and heart-wrenching scenes, and who does the most heartwarming cheerful scenes? I think your readers certainly have a good idea of who is who, but would you set the record straight?

It’s harder working alone, to be sure. Writing is a really solitary job, and that’s become even more apparent after working with Amie. Writing alone, you need to lay down swathes of work before you can show anyone, and you’re often feeling like you’re fumbling in the dark. Fortunately, I have an awesome wife who’s the most well-read person I know and I bounce ideas off her constantly.

I tend to be the Bad Cop between me and Amie. I lean darker, and she’s far more positive and enthusiastic, which I think is why we work well as a team—our strengths complement each other, and we challenge each other’s ideas.

But all that said, don’t be fooled—Amie has come up with her share of brutal stuff too J

·     How does writing high fantasy right after coming off Gemina feel? Was it an easy switch to make, or did you have to remind yourself what you were doing?

I tend to work better when I have multiple balls in the air. I’ve found if I get stuck on one project, it’s good to have another one to switch gears to. Your brain is a wonderful machine—it can solve problems even when you’re not consciously thinking of them. So having other projects to jump into when you’re struggling is a huge help.

·    What is your writing process usually like — lots of careful planning and storyboarding, or are you a "pantser" who writes by the seat of your pants? As such, what advice would you impart onto writers young and old who are just starting out?

I think of myself as a Join-the-Dotser. I have a rough idea of key conflict points or scenes, and usually know vaguely how the novel will end, but often I’m not sure how I’ll get there. So it’s a matter of taking those key scenes and joining the dots between them. We have to plot far more intensively on co-authored work though.

Advice to young writers—finish the book. There are a million first chapters out there. Not quite as many final chapters.

·     Lastly, what is one thing you want your readers to take away from Nevernight as our wait for book two begins?

Never flinch. Never fear. Never forget.

~~~~~



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