Bringing in December with a Few More FAQs

Spoiler status: The following Frequently Asked Questions are generally spoiler-free. I do give away something about the way Gracelings look in question 3, so if you're positively psycho about spoilers, skip #3.

1. Can I chat/IM with you online?
*smile* That is a very sweet question. Truth is, I don't chat online with anyone, not even my best friends. I seem to have an allergy to the entire concept. I don't do Facebook or MySpace or any of those things, either. I like to keep my life simple.

2. You keep talking about how hard it is to write Book 3 / Bitterblue. Can you tell us why it's so hard?
*smile again* I guess I didn't realize what I was getting into. Which is just part of the human condition, right? You make a seemingly innocent decision; you don't realize what you're getting into; but now you're into it, and there's no turning back. You've just got to figure out the best way through. Didn't somebody once say, "The best way out is always through?" Yes -- I just googled it -- Robert Frost.

One of the many tricky things about Bitterblue is that there is a LOT of stuff going on. Possibly too much stuff; so much stuff that it's hard to figure out how to structure it. I would describe the current structure as, um, rather numinous. I know it's possible to write a good book in which a million things are going on at once; I know it's possible to weave things together so that the reader isn't left asking, WTF is going on in this book? What is this book even ABOUT? I've seen it done in other books. But that doesn't mean I know how to do it. So, there's some on-the-job training going on here. A lot of rewriting; a LOT of writing 10 pages and throwing out 5. I'm also trying to read a lot of complicated books, to see how other, better writers do it. Most of all, I'm trying to keep perspective: The fate of the world does not exactly depend on this book, now, does it? I'm trying to remember to laugh at myself and, in emergencies, eat cannoli. :o)

3. In Graceling, what made you give the Gracelings two-colored eyes? Are the colors significant?
Good question! Truth is, I don't remember why I decided to do this. I guess it just came to me and felt right; it looked right in my mind. I chose the particular colors I chose simply because I liked them. As far as Katsa goes, well, blue and green are my favorite colors; and Po, he's just a glow-y guy (his rings and earrings were part of his character from the very beginning), so it seemed right to give him eyes of glow-y colors.

4. Have you read Tamora Pierce and Robin McKinley?
Gee, what gave you that impression? :o) I LOVE Tamora Pierce and Robin McKinley; they have definitely inspired me. When my editor emailed me to tell me that Tamora Pierce was blurbing Graceling, I burst into tears. I ran to tell my sister, secret code name: Cordelia, who was luckily talking on the phone at the time to my sister, secret code name: Apocalyptica, so we were able to have an impromptu family celebration.

5. Can you recommend some good YA fantasy?
I can indeed, and I invite my readers to add their own recommendations in the comments.

I've never read anything by Tamora Pierce or Robin McKinley I didn't like. With Pierce, the Alanna quartet is a great place to start; with McKinley, The Blue Sword, The Hero and the Crown, and Deerskin are among my personal favorites. Philip Pullman's His Dark Materials cannot be beat. Cynthia Voigt has an inter-related quartet of books called the Novels of the Kingdom that aren't technically fantasy (nothing impossible happens), but they have a medieval fantasy feel. They are: Jackaroo; On Fortune's Wheel; The Wings of a Falcon; and Elske.

Digressing slightly from fantasy, Margaret Mahy writes beautiful YA magical realism; The Tricksters is one of my favorite books (not to mention the book that inspired the title for my blog). And for plain old women-having-romantic-adventures-in-beautiful-locales stories (not YA, usually not fantasy, nonetheless fantastic), do you know the novels of Mary Stewart? They're a little dated and sometimes hard to find (check your library), but Nine Coaches Waiting will always be in my top ten. In addition to her adventure tales she wrote a wonderful series that's a King Arthur retelling from Merlin's point of view (starting with The Crystal Cave). Good stuff.

6. I always wonder about how to make time in my own life to write. What was your day job when you were writing Graceling?
When I wrote Graceling I was working as a freelance educational writer. There was a great discussion on the question of "the writer's day job" on The Longstockings several months ago; if you're curious, check it out here. And if you're specifically curious about my work as an educational writer, scroll down to my own comment in The Longstockings discussion, because I wrote a tome about it there, describing the work in detail... :o)

7. What is your favorite musical performance inspired by Bizet's Carmen and performed by a grapefruit?
Ah, yes. That timeless question that all of us must ask ourselves eventually.

Could I just say, before I get to my answer, that a couple of weeks ago I went to see a violinist named Augustin Hadelich, and his performance of Sarasate's "Carmen-Fantasy op. 25," inspired by Bizet's Carmen, had me jumping out of my seat? If this young man happens to come to your town, do try to go see him, even if you have to pawn your winter boots to afford the tickets. (Btw, you might know the Sarasate piece even if you think you don't. Listen to Itzhak Perlman play it here...)

Anyway. Augustin Handelich is not a grapefruit. And so, without further ado, here is my favorite musical performance inspired by Bizet's Carmen and performed by a grapefruit:

There are loads more questions I'd like to answer, so more FAQs on Thursday. :o)


Sarah Miller said…
Ok, "on the job training"? Holy cats, is that ever priceless.
Anonymous said…
Thank you for number 5! I've been looking for more books to read. I love Tamora Pierce but haven't read any of those others you suggested.
it just so happens that my favorite fruit is a grapefruit!
whats urs?
Unknown said…
That does it. I had placed your book on my Christmas wish list, and if I don't get it from Santa, I'm ordering it on Dec 26. Every single book you just mentioned that you liked is one that I liked and have read as well.
Stacey said…
hehe, i love your answer to # 3. Po i think is my favorite character and his eye color totaly fits him and its fun to know a bit more behind it. and i think the differnt eye color is one of my favorite aspects of the book. it brings the book to a very different place, it sets it a part from other fantacy.
# 1. was a weird question.. I don't think I would ever talk to anyone on msger without already talking to them somewhere else first because then they have your email. # 7. was a really random question if you ask me, it doesnt have anything to do with writting or your book.

And now I feel like being random so guess what i made today. Strawberry Muffins from scratch! It was the first time I made muffins from scratch so i was looking forward to how they would turn out. Well they not only taste great but they look good too! I had fun talking pictures of them lol.
Anonymous said…
I always love hearing what writers read; if they enjoy what I enjoy, I feel like I better understand why I liked their books. And I LOVE "Nine Coaches Waiting." That was the first book to ever keep me up till 2 in the morning (back when I was 12 or so) -- what a page-turner. Also totally love "Jackaroo" and didn't know there were more books set in that kingdom -- yay!
cindy said…
thank you, kristin.

and i know what you mean by the "i know what needs to be done but how do i go about doing it" feeling.

there's a reason my debut is a straight heroine's journey. haha!
Kristin Cashore said…
Yay! I'm glad I'm not the only one who loves Mary Stewart and the Kingdom books!

Hmm, favorite fruit. Maybe grapes, kiwis, or peaches.

And I have to agree that though the on-the-job training is painful, it's also a wonderful thing... Good luck to the writers out there :o)
NoGrandmother said…
Just on the off chance that you don't know about it, the site Astronomy Picture of the Day ( is the bee's knees.
Unknown said…
This comment has been removed by the author.
Unknown said…
Just wanted to say that I love Tamora Pierce as well and the fact that there was a quote by her praising the book Graceling was what caught my attention to it. The book was wonderful-couldn't put it down!!! Love Love Loved it!

Can't wait for more to come!!
Corey Wright said…
This comment has been removed by the author.
Corey Wright said…
I'm going to write this here.

I just finished Graceling and could not get online quick enough to tell you how much I loved it (seriously, my Internet wasn't working and I was about to rip out my hair).

Your book is phenomenal and absolutely thrilling. I don't think I have gasped aloud so many times in one book before.

I can't wait to recommend this to my friends, because I know that they will all fall for your characters as much as (if not more than)I did.

I can't wait to read more of what you have; you're style is so fluid

- Corey
Kristin Cashore said…
Well, Corey, thank you very much! :o)
Tamora Pierce has been like my hero since 3rd grade!!! Her books vener get old!!! Course, neither does Graceling!!!

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