An Interview with Laini Taylor

Laini Taylor, author of the awesome book Blackbringer, let me do an email interview with her. How cool is that? So. Here you go.

Laini, Let me start off by saying I'm thrilled to interview you. And then, let me ask you to supply me with three nouns, four adjectives, and two verbs (one present tense and the other past tense) for a little bit of mad-lib fun.

Fun! I’m a wee bit afraid to see the results, but here are the words: nouns: scar; disguise; robot adjectives: grotesque; chirpy; feverish; blue verbs: waltz; kissed

You've said on your website that "our dreams are real things…and it is our job in life to make them come true…" What are some dreams that have come true for you? How did you help make that happen?

Finishing a novel is a huge one. I’ve wanted to do it my whole life, but I was just letting years go by without doing the work that needed to be done.
There’s a great quote: "What you have to do and the way to do it is incredibly simple. Whether you are willing to do it, that is another matter." -Peter F. Drucker At a certain point, it hit me hard that I would never be “a writer” unless I, um, wrote, and I would never make a living at it unless I finished things. So I reformed my habits. I started getting up early and getting straight to work at the kitchen table while it was still dark, and I taught myself a ton of tools for overcoming my many hang-ups with perfectionism. It took a couple of years, but I did it. My hang-ups still plague me every single day of my writing life, but I have learned to manage my brain to some degree, and make it do what I need it to do. (More details on that at Not For Robots.) Another dream for me was to make a living as an artist, and I've been really lucky that the Laini's Ladies line has enabled me to do that -- but there were steps I had to take, and things I had to do that were out of my comfort zone, like going to the National Stationery Show in New York to learn about licensing and to meet manufacturers. If I'd stuck with what I was comfortable with, or kept on just *wishing* something would happen, I would still be making the ladies by hand and selling them at the local craft fair. A lot of time gets wasted wishing things were easier, that we were luckier, but the only chance most of us have of getting the life we want is if we make it ourselves.

If you could create the most divine dessert, what would one or two of its certain ingredients be?

My two favorite foods in the world happen to pair up pretty well: chocolate and mangoes, so I could go with that. But then, I’m pretty much a fan of any divine dessert. . . as my dad would say, “Did I ever tell you about the worst dessert I ever had? It was great.” (I’m paraphrasing; he actually says that about pizza.)

What books and projects are coming next from you?

Well, Dreamdark: Silksinger and my first YA title, Lips Touch, are both coming out in 2009. Now, I am working on two novels, both YA, and the third Dreamdark book is percolating in my head and getting itself ready to be written. That makes me sound like one of those fast writers who’s tossing off books left and right, which is definitely not the case. It just means that I have a few projects in early stages, all of which I love and have high hopes for, but am still just a wee bit unsure of.

Were you born with hot pink hair, or was it more of a pale pink, and then got darker as you grew up?

Excellent question! I was actually born with thick black hair, which fell out within weeks, leaving me bald until my thirty-fifth birthday (for 35 year I wore brownish/blondish wigs), at which time I began to mysteriously grow a kind of straggling pink fluff that closely resembled flamingo down. A specialist advised me to sing to it (there’s a special Portuguese hair-growing chant for just this purpose), and I did, and the happy results are what you see today: a healthy head of bright pink hair!

What book are you reading right now?

I just read An Abundance of Katherines by John Green and Story of a Girl by Sara Zarr, both of which were amazing, and a really, really odd sci-fantasy book called This is the Way the World Ends by James Morrow, which was kind of like if Lewis Carroll wrote about nuclear war! Now I am reading the third of the Temeraire books, by Naomi Novik -- historical fantasy about battle dragons being used to fight the Napoleonic Wars. Last year when I asked after this series in the bookstore (having forgotten the author’s name), I was told by the clerk, “No, I don’t know. I don’t read that kind of book.” Agh!

What is one of your favorite pieces of trivia?

Ooh, I love weird facts. Here are a few:
--There is a kind of parasite that kills a fish’s tongue and then becomes its tongue, and lives the rest of its life in the fish’s mouth, helping itself to food! -- The leading theory of the origin of the moon is that it was caused by a glancing collision between the young Earth and an object the size of Mars!!! -- Only 5 out of every billion atoms of rock in the Earth’s crust are gold. -- Mako shark embryos cannibalize their siblings in utero. Eww.

What question have you not been asked in an interview, but think you should be asked? (Both the question and the answer, if you like)

What is the most backhandsprings you ever did in a row?
Fifty! For some reason, no one ever asks me about that! :-)

Excellent answers! If you asked me how many backhandsprings I had done in a row, the answer would be zero. Okay, now it's time for some mad-libbing! I have here the actual first few sentences of Laini's novel. Then... the New and Improved beginning to Blackbringer! Enjoy!

The wolf tasted the babe’s face with the tip of his tongue and pronounced her sweet, and the fox licked the back of her head to see if it was so. For the rest of her life when this child grew into a faerie with bright eyes and a laugh as loud and unladylike as a crow’s, that spot on her hair would never lie flat. And though she wouldn’t remember the night the creatures had gathered around to look at her and taste and smell her, she would call those unruly hairs her foxlick without knowing why.

The scar tasted the babe’s face with the tip of his tongue and pronounced her grotesque, and the fox licked the back of her head to see if it was so. For the rest of her disguise when this child grew into a robot with chirpy eyes and a laugh as loud and feverish as a crow’s, that spot on her hair would never lie flat. And though she wouldn’t waltz the night the creatures had kissed around to look at her and taste and smell her, she would call those blue hairs her foxlick without knowing why.


  1. Thanks again, Alysa! Cheers! (the mad lib was really fun.)

  2. No, thank you, Laini! I love that her hair ended up blue. :)

  3. That mad-lib idea is genius! Mind if I use it?

    LOVED what Laini said about her hair.

  4. enna isilee -- go for it! I look forward to the results.


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