This post will be my first attempt to answer a few of the questions I’ve received.
FAQ disclaimer: I enjoy receiving questions about subtext, so I’m not saying don’t send me questions about subtext. But just know this: I won’t answer them. :o) The book serves as its own explanation; you come up with your own interpretations. Make sense?
Spoiler status: The following FAQs are, by most standards, spoiler-free for people who have not yet read Graceling. However, if you are psychotic about spoilers (like me) and haven’t read Graceling, only read questions 1, 2, and 6.
1. I’ve always thought of fantasies as world-building books where the authors create the characters after building the world. But that doesn’t feel like the case in Graceling, because the characters seem so real. Which came first: the characters or the kingdoms?
Well, thank you, and you’re right — the characters came first in Graceling, completely and absolutely. I knew Katsa, Po, and Raffin fairly well before I ever began to build a world around them. Of course, they came with their special powers and their situations intact, so they brought pieces of the world with them from the beginning; but without a doubt, characters were the genesis of the book. If you’re curious about how Graceling grew, I talk about it a bit in this interview. And if people have more specific questions, please feel free to email or comment — I’ll add them to my list.
2. How do you pronounce Lienid?
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 POT-suh (or, at least, I used to, until I heard everyone else pronouncing it to rhyme with PAT-suh); Randa to rhyme with HAND-uh, Raffin to rhyme with LAUGH-in, Oll to rhyme with doll. And I speak with an American accent. But that doesn’t mean you have to!
3. The villain in Graceling is really creepy and disgusting. Was it hard for you to write him?
Actually, quite the opposite. I tend to enjoy writing creepy, bad stuff. I suppose Freud or Jung or somebody would say that society represses our natural human tendencies toward deviance, and creating a deviant character could be a kind of release. Or something? Whatever the reason, I would much rather write about a creep being creepy than about someone bland being bland. Or landscapes. I don’t much like describing landscapes. :o)
4. Can you tell us more about the villain? His backstory; parentage; anything about his eye?
I can and do in future books.
5. Are Raffin and Bann lovers?
This is, hands down, my most frequently asked question. It’s also a perfect example of a question I won’t answer. :o)
6. Kristin! How is your car running? (A question frequently asked by my Dad.)
Dad! My car is running GREAT. The right rear bumper is hanging slightly loose but I’m holding it on with Obama stickers. I get 35 mpg, my odometer reads 174,880 miles, and I’m thinking of commemorating 175,000 with a new clutch. I love my car and here is the plan: I am going to live to be 101 years old, and I will drive this car for the rest of my life.
Silliness aside, I’ll tackle more questions soon.
Also, for any of you in north Florida: This coming Thursday (Oct 23), at 7pm, I’ll be reading from Graceling and signing books at The Bookmark in Atlantic Beach, one block from the sea. The Bookmark is in the Beaches Town Center, 299 Atlantic Blvd, Atlantic Beach 32233. Phone: (904) 241-9026.
Have a nice week, everyone!