Welcome to today’s stop on the Days of Blood & Starlight Blog Tour!
We are delighted to be a part of this tour not only because we loved Daughter of Smoke and Bone (which was one of Ana’s top 10 books of 2011) but because this is a tour with a difference. All of the stops on the blog were asked to pick a random page of the book and then Laini Taylor chooses a quote or paragraph from that page in order to discuss it in more depth.
We picked page 245 and this is what the author has to say about it:
“She did not want to talk about Akiva. She didn’t want to think about him. Hell, she wanted to unknow him, to go back in time to Bullfinch, and turn another way on the battlefield as he bled out his life into the sand.”
Boy, I sure set myself up for a tricky romance, didn’t I? My challenge, after the end of DAUGHTER — or one of my challenges — has been: what chance could there possibly be for Karou and Akiva now? The comparison Karou makes elsewhere in the book is basically: suppose Juliet woke up in the crypt and Romeo wasn’t dead! (Yay!) He was alive, but … he had, um, killed her whole family and destroyed her city and participated in the genocide of her people. Crap. Really. How can Karou ever forgive Akiva? Can I possibly bring them back together? I won’t say whether it will work out for them (I’m not sure I even know!), or where things stand by the end of DAYS. But I’ll say that DAYS is a very different book from DAUGHTER, which was unabashedly a romance. There is now this gigantic impediment to the romance (genocide will do that), and it’s been a very interesting process to weave the story and character interactions that follow it, trying to coax them in a certain direction but not force them.
The cited passage is a pretty accurate description of Karou’s feelings for Akiva these days. So … now what? Have you heard that thing about classic story structure?
A. Put your character in a tree.
B. Throw stones at him.
C. Get him down.
Well, it’s a pretty big tree I’ve put Karou and Akiva in. I loved writing their romance in book I, both phases of it, past and present. I love romance, full stop. And I loved writing the whimsical tone that much of DAUGHTER had, before things took such a turn for the dire. There was a phase, early in writing DAYS, where I hadn’t yet come to terms with the very different tone that it had to have, and I was trying to force it to be more fun and light-hearted, and I had to admit that it was wasn’t working out, and to find the “truth” of this story.
Which brings me to the idea of “truth” in fiction. I’ve heard it said that writers “lie for a living” and I really bristle at that notion. It does not feel at all like what I do. I really always feel like I’m looking for the truth of the situation that I have created. I’m always asking myself, “What would Karou really do here? What would she be feeling, and how would she react?” I think of Emma Thompson in Stranger Than Fiction, standing at the edge of the building to know what her character would really feel in that moment. I don’t stand at the edges of buildings, but I do close my eyes and try to put myself in their skin, and I know — I’ve caught myself — I get carried away and make the facial expressions that they would be making. Which is interesting, when one writes in cafes!
So one of the major story threads in DAYS is certainly: what now for Karou and Akiva? Everything stands between them. There were certainly times when the Laini writing DAYS wanted to reach back and throttle the Laini who wrote DAUGHTER. Look what you’ve set me up for! What am I supposed to do now? Ha! But seriously, it has been thrilling and very, very rewarding, discovering/creating this story (it always feels like both discovery and creation, like in some way it is lying in my brain waiting to be found), and I hope that readers of this book will feel that things do, indeed, play out in accordance with the “truth” of the story and situation, even if it is not always what they wish would happen.
Thank you Laini!
And make sure to check the other stops:
We have ONE copy of Days of Blood and Starlight to giveaway. The contest is open to addresses in the US only, and will run until Sunday, November 11 at 12:01am EST. In order to enter, use the form below! Good luck!