FAQs About the Books

Disclaimer: I don’t answer questions about subtext. The book serves as its own explanation; you come up with your own interpretations. Make sense? Okay, here goes. :o)
You talk about Graceling, which is out now; Fire, coming out in the fall; and Bitterblue, which you’re currently writing. How do they fit together? Are they prequels, sequels, etc.?
They are loosely connected. Fire takes place about 35 years before Graceling in a nearby land. Bitterblue takes places six (correction: EIGHT) years after Graceling, in the seven kingdoms. I’m going to refer you to my My Books page, which answers the question more fully (and which does contain some minor spoilers, along the lines of what you’d find on a book jacket). (2/16/09)
Why did you decide to write the books that way?
When I began Graceling, I never had any intention of writing another book in that universe. But then, at some point, a character in Graceling mentions an imaginary land he’s heard about in a story, and I found myself thinking about that land. I asked myself, what if it were real? Where is it, and how does it connect to Graceling? An idea for a new book came to me (Fire), and I had to write it. The same thing happened with Bitterblue. While writing Fire, I never intended to write a third book in this universe. Then, one day, a loved one said out of the blue, “Hmm, what about Bitterblue?” It was kind of a revelation. An idea began to latch onto my mind, and I realized I had to write it. (2/16/09)******
Will there be more books that take place in this universe?
I don’t know. If a fourth book starts growing in my mind and demands to be written, then yes. If not, then no. Sometimes, writers aren’t as in control of what they’ll write next as you might think! I’ll have to go with what feels right. (2/16/09)
When is Bitterblue coming out?
I don’t know. Sometime after I’m done writing it. :o) (2/16/09)
Is Graceling going to be made into a movie?
No one has optioned Graceling at this point. If and when anyone does, I’ll explain more about how it all works. (Getting optioned does not mean it will necessarily ever be made into a movie.) (2/16/09) ETA on 1/31/14: Graceling has now been optioned and I will announce any news as it happens on my blog.

How do you pronounce Lienid and the other names in Graceling?
Really and truly, I don’t mind how people pronounce the names of characters and places in my books. In fact, my own pronunciation of Katsa has changed because everyone else seems to pronounce it differently from the way I do. So please, say the words however you want to say them.

That being said, if you want to say them the way I say them — I pronounce Lienid LEE-uh-nid or LEE-nid, like the Leonids, the meteors that occur every year (in real life, in our sky) around November. That’s where I got the idea for the name, actually. It struck me as the perfect kingdom to name after falling stars, even if the association was only in my head (because in the seven kingdoms, of course, there are no yearly meteor showers called Leonids…).

While I’m on the subject, I pronounce Katsa to rhyme with PAT-suh; Randa to rhyme with HAND-uh, Raffin to rhyme with LAUGH-in, Oll to rhyme with doll. Bitterblue is accented on the first syllable: BITTerblue. And I speak with an American accent. But that doesn’t mean you have to! (10/20/08)******

On your “My Books” page, you say that Katsa, Po, & Co. will appear in Bitterblue. What do you mean by “& Co.?”
*smile* Literally, it means, “and company,” but I don’t think that’s what you’re asking. What it really means is that I’m close-mouthed about works in progress — I need to be, for my own writing process — and I’m not willing to name the Graceling characters who appear in Bitterblue just yet, other than Katsa and Po. You’re not the only person who’s asked about the “& Co.” thing, though, so I’ve changed the wording over there so it’s less confusing. I also got rid of the line about how writing Bitterblue is killing me with loud death agonies, because I got a comment from someone who was worried that this meant her favorite characters get killed. :o) All I meant was that I’m finding it hard to write. (4/13/09)

Do I need to read Graceling before reading Fire?
This is hard for me to answer objectively, because, of course, as the purist author, I would prefer everyone to read them in the order in which they were published, and also, reading Fire first gives away one big Graceling spoiler. BUT, I have heard from plenty of people who read Fire first and then Graceling and say that reading them in that order totally works. Both books stand alone — technically, you don’t need to read one in order to understand the other. So I think you’re safe either way… but I still recommend starting with Graceling. (8/31/09)

I missed your signings. How can I get signed copies of your books?
To purchase signed/personalized books, please place an online order at Harvard Bookstore. Before you finish your order, a Comments box will appear. Please specify in the Comments box that you’d like the book signed, and to whom you’d like it personalized, if anyone. Kindly use the online ordering system rather than trying to order over the phone — this will eliminate confusion at the store! All orders are pre-paid and non-returnable. These instructions are also available on my Contacts, Info, and Credits page.

(Note: Please DO NOT try to mail me books or bookplates to sign! I regret that I am unable to accommodate such requests, and I would hate for your books to get lost in the process!) (10/19/09)

*WARNING!! The following questions contain spoilers! Proceed at your own risk!*

Can you tell us more about Leck? His backstory; parentage; anything about his eye?

There will be more about Leck in Fire and Bitterblue. (10/20/08)******
Are Raffin and Bann a couple?
This is, hands down, my most frequently asked question. It’s also a perfect example of a question I won’t answer. My reason for not answering has nothing to do with the subject matter; it’s only that, as I say at the top of this page, I don’t answer questions about subtext. I don’t think the author has the right to stand outside the book explaining the book. The reader needs to be allowed to have his or own interpretation; the book needs to be its own answer. Make sense? (10/20/08)******

Will Katsa and Po ever get married?

Ahem. Welcome to my second most frequently asked question. I never, ever discuss future plot things, except occasionally with my editor, my agent, and my official First Readers. This is partly because (1) until a first draft is written, I need to be free to have it to myself, without the interference of anyone else — without the pressure of other people’s questions, worries, opinions, or expectations. It needs to be my book and only my book, my business and only my business. That is the only way a book can grow. It’s also partly because (2) before a book goes to typesetting, anything is subject to change.

So I’ll never, ever answer a question like this. (Which I doubt will surprise anyone. ^_^)

However, I do have a counter-question. My question is: Why do you ask? Do they need to be married for their relationship to be genuine? I challenge you to think about this. Bounce it around. See where it lands. (1/15/09)
I love the themes of choice, independence, and sacrifice in Graceling. It was refreshing to read about a heroine whose purpose wasn’t necessarily to “get married and settle down.” That said, I do still love a “happily ever after” ending. For the first time (ever) I felt like I got equal measure of independence and HEA (lo and behold, they are not mutually exclusive!). I love that! So my question is – was independence + HEA your goal from the beginning or did the characters just fall into place that way?
Awesome question. The simple answer is both: my characters fell into place that way from the very beginning. I knew Katsa was dedicated to her independence and I knew she was going to fall in love. It was, very simply, who Katsa was and where Katsa was headed when she came to me. (And it also made for a really fun conflict to write! ^_^)

I suppose I could say more, but I’m not sure where to go with it, and I don’t want to bore everyone to tears. (1/15/09)******
Some of your online reader reviews say that Graceling has an anti-marriage message. Do you have a response to that?
Well, normally I would say that I don’t want to get into it, because I don’t think my opinion, as the author, really matters. And I respect any reader’s right to his or her own opinion! However, if I were to express a few thoughts of my own, they might sound a little something like this….

First, some facts: there are some existing, steady marriages quietly depicted in the book. There is also one, single, solitary character who feels that marriage is not the right choice personally for her. Remember, Katsa herself doesn’t try to stop other people from marrying; she even hopes for happy marriages for other people. Them’s the facts.

I didn’t write Graceling with any particular messages in mind. But if it does have a message, I hope it’s not anti-marriage, but rather, pro- “being true to yourself.” I think that being true to yourself sometimes — not always, but sometimes — means thoughtfully, intelligently choosing to take a route that differs from the norm.

Here is something that Jon and Rumer Godden (writers for both children and adults) wrote in their book Two Under the Indian Sun: “We knew that marriage was not the only kind of love.”

If Katsa and Po find a way to relate to each other that works for them and that involves self-respect, mutual respect, self-examination, mutual delight, mutual regard, and honest communication, how can their relationship be a bad thing? (1/15/09)