-What made you choose Tsarist Russia as inspiration for your Grisha trilogy?
It was a natural touchstone for a lot of the power dynamics I wanted to explore: a deep discrepancy in wealth between rich and poor, the failure to industrialize, the political realities of an army that relies largely on conscripted serfs. Also, one side of my family fled Russia, so that culture has always seemed both beautiful and dangerous.
-After a completed trilogy, you decided to go back to the grishaverse in Six of Crows and Crooked Kingdom. Are you thinking of using this setting for future novels?
I absolutely plan to write more in the Grishaverse. My illustrated book of Grisha fairytales, The Language of Thorns, will be out in the US and the UK at the end of September, and there's more news to come. But I have other projects in the works as well.
-When did you start thinking about Six of Crows? Did Six of Crows's plotting affect in any way to the facts that we see in the Grisha trilogy?
I was finishing up the trilogy when I thought of the idea for Six of Crows. I hadn't originally intended to write more Grishaverse books so soon, but the idea just grabbed hold of me. I don't think it impacted the trilogy, but I think my work on the trilogy, and my fascination with Kerch and Ketterdam dictated the tone of the duology and where it would be set.
-One of the main differences between the Grisha trilogy and Six of Crows are its narrators. The trilogy is told from the point of view of a single protagonist, whereas the bilogy is narrated in third person by six different characters. Why did you make this decision?
Heists are all about twists. They're about withholding information from your readers without ever letting them feel cheated. I don't think I could have done that in first person.
-In Six of Crows, the character's past hold a lot of importance. Did it take you more planning than your other novels? How did you organise yourself to keep track of every character's past, present and future?
The planning really all went into the heist and the prison break. I wanted it to be a satisfying puzzle for the reader so that when it all comes together at the end, you remember every clue and hint that was dropped. Honestly, the characters' pasts were some of the few things that I didn't plot out heavily before I began writing. I let myself get to know each of them as I worked on that first draft.
-Six of Crows' protagonists are a great example of diversity (ethnic, social, sexual...). What do you think of representativity in YA literature?
I'm glad to see increased representation happening in YA, but the real change will come when we see more diverse authors publishing books—with genuine support from their publishing houses. There's a real hunger for diverse stories from diverse voices, and the more readers make that demand known, the more I think we'll see the market respond.
-Grisha's magic system is so unique! How did you come up with it?
Thank you! It was really inspired by molecular chemistry and abides by many of its rules. I love fantasy and magic, but I always wondered, "What happens on a physical level when you wave a magic wand or cast a spell?" The Small Science was my answer.
-Wonder Woman: Warbringer will be released in August. How was it to write about a character already created by someone else, and such a famous one as Wonder Woman?
Intimidating! Wonder Woman is a true icon. She means so much to so many people, so of course it was scary to take on those expectations. But it was also a chance to be a part of her history, and there was no way I could turn down the chance. In the end, I loved the challenge and I loved writing in her voice. Wonder Woman isn't just about strength, but kindness and compassion. She was quite a change from Kaz Brekker.
-Your next anthology, The Language of Thorns, is described in your site as "perfect for new readers and dedicated fans". What will each of these readerships find in this book?
New readers will get a collection of illustrated original fairytales—some romantic, some scary, some familiar, some strange —that will give them a chance to explore the different cultures of the Grishaverse without having any knowledge of my other books or characters. But if you've read the Shadow and Bone trilogy or the Six of Crows duology, you'll also get to hear the stories Alina or Kaz or Matthias or Nikolai might have heard growing up, the stories they were raised on. And in one of the stories, readers might also get a glimpse at a character they know well.
-You have published in anthologies about romance (Summer Days & Summer Nights), terror (Slasher Girls and Monster Boys), and science fiction (Last Night a Superhero Saved My Life), but for now your novels are 100% fantasy. What genre would you like to try next? Do you have something in mind?
All of my stories are fantastical in some way and I think they always will be. I'm currently working on my first novel for adults, Ninth House, which is set among the secret societies of Yale. It's a real-world setting, but it's full of ghosts and magic and the occult. I love the idea that there's something strange waiting around the next corner, something extraordinary hidden in plain sight. Those are always going to be the kinds of stories that draw me.
-So many anthologies... What do you like the most about this way of telling stories?
Honestly, writing short stories always feels like a challenge. I'm much more comfortable with novels, because there's so much room to mess around and play. But I love how finite short fiction can be, an entire world contained in so few pages. And I do think writing shorter work has helped me hone my craft, especially at a sentence level. You have so little time to reach a reader in a short story, to shape the arc of the beginning, middle, and end in a satisfying way. Every word carries greater weight.