Trafficking teeth and other cool things

One of the best parts of writing this blog is the opportunity to meet and "interview" some of my favourite authors. I use quotation marks because really, I'm very aware that I'm just a fan girl who lucked out.

I was lucky enough to meet an author who I've been loosely stalking on Twitter for the past year or so since I read her debut novel, Daughter of Smoke and Bone. Laini Taylor - she of the rock star pink hair, and much smaller than I imagined, mini but mighty if you will, is here in NZ for mere days. 

I managed to nab a quick chat with her. Before I get into that, let me talk about Laini's novel, because I LOVE Daughter of Smoke and Bone. I read it when it first came out, and could immediately imagine the story on a big Hollywood screen, which is exactly what will happen (fingers crossed).   

Daughter of Smoke and Bone is the perfect fantasy novel to be made into a movie. It has it all - beautiful, historic setting (the story opens in Prague), fantastical beasts, and a feisty female lead. Oh, and there's also a very weirdly cool backstory about harvesting teeth, I'm a sucker for strange elements in stories.

I've edited down my questions because listening back, I probably sound half-witted in some of them ("all ideas come from somewhere", no shizz, Karen). But here are some gems from the interview.

Where did you get the idea for Daughter of Smoke and Bone?
I had been working on my first novel for a few years, and I really just wanted to create some new things - write stories and just have fun. And the book wasn't going well at all. It was very plot orientated, like plan it out, it was really miserable. One day, it got really bad. I'd been trying to write it for like three months, I was really down and I was going to give myself just one day to write anything. I had no prompts, no idea what it was going to be....I sat down and started writing and immediately this blue-haired girl who was having an argument with her father, who was wearing a wishbone around her neck and she traffics teeth for him. So those things were all the beginning, that's all I knew. I knew I loved it, but I didn't have a story. I didn't know what the wishbone was for - why can't she touch it? I started asking myself those questions, and everything evolved from there, slowly over time.

Advice for young writers?
Don't have a back-up plan. Don't go to law school if you want to be a writer, you can do that later. Do that when you're 30, it'll still be there. Everybody I know who has a back-up plan is living their back-up plan.

To be perfectly honest, I was probably letting the team down (sorry blog readers), as I didn't ask a lot of traditional interview questions.

Instead, we talked about a random collection of topics: authors we love, Harry Potter (she's Gryffindor, definitely), how many Kiwis feel an affinity with Portland (where Laini lives - she drove through the city with her husband, fell in love with it, and they bought a house the next day), her childhood in Europe then the experience of being transplanted into the Californian suburbs, where she went from having class trips to Pompeii to well...American Pie?? I kid about the last part, but she did leave it up to my fertile imagination.

I try not to go on about my favourite titles too often, but I seriously think Daughter of Smoke and Bone (it's the first book of a trilogy and yes, I've read all of them) is a must-read.

Laini will already have been and gone from Auckland by the time you read this, but South Islanders take note - she'll be in Christchurch for a couple of events this weekend. Check it out on her website.