2016 Snapshot: Jay Kristoff

Interview by David McDonald.

Jay Kristoff is the New York Times and internationally bestselling author of THE LOTUS WAR, THE ILLUMINAE FILES and THE NEVERNIGHT CHRONICLE. He is the winner of two Aurealis Awards, an ABIA, nominee for the David Gemmell Morningstar and Legend awards, named multiple times in the Kirkus and Amazon Best Teen Books list and published in over twenty-five countries, most of which he has never visited. He is as surprised about all of this as you are. He is 6’7 and has approximately 13030 days to live. He abides in Melbourne with his secret agent kung-fu assassin wife, and the world’s laziest Jack Russell.

He does not believe in happy endings.

You’ve had a huge amount of success with–alongside your popular solo works–your collaborative projects. What was the impetus for a collaboration? What are some of the up and downs as opposed to solo writing?

Collaboration wasn’t something I’d ever considered until Amie suggested it. In my head, writing a book was something you did by yourself, and Amie was a good friend before she was ever my co-author. So my instinct was to say “no”. What if we sucked? What if we didn’t click and ended up hating each other. But I had something of a George Costanza style epiphany and decided to say yes instead, and it turned out alright in the end. So yay for Seinfeld, I guess.

I say this with a caveat – that co-authoring and your success in it is ENTIRELY dependent on your choice of co-author. If you choose badly, the whole experience is going to be a flaming hellscape watered with your tears of rage. But, choose well and it’s an enormous amount of fun. It’s energizing and different and not so god-awful lonely as writing a book normally is. Writing the ILLUMINAE FILES has been the most fun I’ve ever had in a creative sense.

You’ve recently returned from touring the United States and attending some of their bigger festivals What are some of the things you took away from that experience?

That our readers are all kinds of amazing. I know it sound trite to say that, but honestly, showing up to a line of a thousand people who are there to see you is an amazing and humbling and intensely gratifying experience. We get blown away. The scope of the scene is the States is something that needs to be experienced to believe. But that’s not an experience that’s limited to the States, either. I used to be in a band as a teenager, and the fear of showing up and playing to an empty room (which we did a lot) never quite leaves you.

So, thanks to everyone who shows up. No matter what country we’re in 🙂

You’ve written across a diverse range of genres, from Young Adult science fiction to heroic fantasy. Who are some of your influences?

Too many. Too, too many. Music, books, films, the people I know. I don’t like giving the shout-out to other authors because I inevitably forget some, and it also varies from project to project. So I’m going to give you the lame answer, which is also the true answer, which is “being alive and breathing”.

What Australian work have you loved recently?

My Sister Rosa by Justine Larbalestier – it’s a thriller about a child psychopath. Intense and frightening.
The Boundless Sublime by Lili Wilkinson – this is another thriller about a girl inducted into a cult. Very powerful Lili and many of her readers are saying it the best thing she’s ever written.
Sea Hearts by Margo Lanagan – Margo is my queen.

Which author (living or dead) would you most like to sit next to on a long plane trip and why?

Douglas Adams. You’re fellow nerds, I shouldn’t have to explain why. He’s fucking Douglas Adams.

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