Jay Kristoff is a very tall author of SciFi/Fantasy from Melbourne, Australia. His first trilogy, the award winning THE LOTUS WAR is set to be published in over a dozen countries. The third book in the series, ENDSINGER, is due for publication in November 2014. Jay’s new series, the SciFi thriller ILLUMINAE, which he co-authored with Amie Kaufman, is due for publication by Random House in 2015. He is as surprised about it as you are.
Jay is 6’7, has approximately 13520 days to live and does not believe in happy endings.
The last book of the Lotus War trilogy, Endsinger, is due to be released imminently. Now that your first series is done, what would you say were the most important things you learnt from the whole process?
It’s hard to pick the most important. You learn a whole bunch first time out – there’s nothing like getting thrown in the deep end to teach you how to swim. Probably the most important one was to treat writing like a job, not a hobby. To apply at least the same discipline you would if you were punching a clock nine to five. There are parts of this gig that are more fun than others, but every part of it is important. You need to understand the finances of it, understand publishing isn’t magical rainbow lollipop land where everyone runs hand in hand down book lane. It’s a business. It’s a job. The best job in the world, sure, but unless you respect it, and treat it like one, you’ll soon be looking for another one.
My god, that’s a depressing answer isn’t it. I’m lying, okay? We all sit around the book tree eating candy and playing with the bubblegum bees all day. Honest.
You’ve written a novellas and short stories set in the Lotus War world (including “The Last Stormdancer”, which won the Aurealis Best Fantasy Short Fiction Award). Do you mainly enjoy writing short fiction as a way of elaborating on an established world, or is it a form you can see yourself exploring further?
I’ll do more shorts, for sure. Doing shorts to promote existing series is a cool way to explore the world you’ve created and get a taste of minor themes or characters, but I wrote a horror short for an antho called SLASHER GIRLS AND MONSTER BOYS earlier this year which was just a riot to write. I’d really like to do more of it. It’ll just be about finding the right project and finding the time. I’m working on two different trilogies atm, time is kinda scarce 🙂
You are currently working on a new series, Illuminae, with fellow Aussie author Amie Kaufman. Can you tell us a bit about that story and the experience of working with a co-author?
ILLUMINAE is the most exciting thing I’ve ever worked on. The experience has been amazing, and we’re not even into the design phase yet. The book itself is like nothing I’ve ever really seen. It’s this collision between House of Leaves and Battlestar Galactica, with some 2001: A Space Odyssey thrown in. With kissing. We’re trying to break the idea of what a book can be with it. Playing with illustration and typography, making the object of the book itself part of the narrative. I played with a few typography ideas in the LOTUS WAR – different point sizes and all caps for telepathy sequences to illustrate volume, but ILLUMINAE makes that look like kindergarten.
|(Not the final cover)|
It’s basically the story of a refugee fleet of space ships, fleeing an invaded world. The people on board different ships are trying to get the bottom of a couple of different mysteries, but the story is told through hacked computer documents, email conversations, IMs, medical reports, security camera footage, and so on. So as these characters discover these documents and begin to unravel the secrets of what’s going on aboard this refugee fleet, the reader does too. Like I say, I’ve never seen anything quite like it.
Co-authoring is a lot of fun. TBH, I wasn’t sure I’d get into it, but it turns out it’s a lot like working in a creative partnership in an advertising agency (which I did for 12 years). I wrote a blog post about it here, if folks are interested. I’d definitely recommend it, presuming you can find a partner who’s style compliments yours. Amie and I have different strengths, and we’re both very thick skinned and relaxed about other people playing with our words (which is essential). Plus, she’s little Miss Sunshine, and I’m the Prince of fkn Darkness, so that works well.
What Australian works have you loved recently?
I’m just finishing Trudi Canavan’s new one, THIEF’S MAGIC. Awesome stuff. And I got my copy signed eeeeeeee.
Have recent changes in the publishing industry influenced the way you work? What do you think you will be publishing/writing/reading in five years from now?
Yeah, for sure. I think it comes back to what I said above – treating it like a job. Doing it on the days it’s hard. Clocking in, no matter what. Having a word count and treating it as sacrosanct. Everyone who does this is LUCKY to be here. You can’t take it for granted. You can’t sit around waiting for the muse to show up. Be your own muse. Make your own music.
In terms of the industry, a lot of folks seem to be talking about the YA bubble bursting – you can’t just think of cool power for a sixteen year old girl to have, put in a cute boy and bam, get a book deal anymore. But there’s always a market for awesome. Write something awesome, and it’ll sell. Or be like me and get some really compromising photographs of important people in the industry and just blackmail your way in.
In terms of what I’ll be writing in five years, I plan to be supreme ruler of the galaxy by then. So, probably lots of death warrants.
Not for YOU obviously, you’re awesome. But some dudes gotta get got.