Monday, April 28, 2014

EVENT RECAP: Laini Taylor's Dreams of Gods and Monsters signing

A few evenings ago I met Laini Taylor on her Dreams of Gods and Monsters tour stop at the Public Library in Brookline, Mass. It was an amazing event. Not only for the food, fan art and photo booth, but Laini was was one of the best interviews I've seen. She was enthusiastic, engaging and answered every question she was asked thoroughly and thoughtfully. 

Some highlights from the talk:

1) How and when does she write? Morning and night, around her daughter's schedule. Laini prefers silence to music and writes the most efficiently when she goes to a hotel, which she usually does when she's writing the end of a book. She wrote 20,000 words of the end of Dreams in 6 days at a hotel on the Oregon coast. 

2) Book crashing: Publishers want a manuscript for a book a year in advance if possible, but both Days of Blood and Starlight and Dreams of Gods and Monsters were late, which is called "crashing the book" in the industry. She finished writing Dreams right before Christmas and then edits came quickly after. After taking a bit of a break, she's starting to write again. 

3) What aspects make up her chimera? The Kirin chimera pretty much equals Laini's magical wish fulfillment. And bat wings. 

4) What is she working on now? A short story for an anthology for Stephanie Perkins called My True Love Gave to Me, filled with romantic holiday stories. Laini's story starts with plague orphans - but she promises it gets romantic. She's also beginning to write an idea she has for a science fiction novel set in historical New York. 

Karou and Brimstone fan art*
5) Daughter of Smoke and Bone was written by cheating on another book. Laini was writing another sci-fi story that wasn't working. She gave herself one day to write whatever she wanted and Karou and Brimstone came alive from that. She sold her story based on the first third of the novel.  

5) Did she plan her series out in advance? Laini says her stories are character driven, and outlines don't work for her. When writing the first book, she knew the ultimate end of Daughter, but not beyond that. She builds her stories by creating situations and putting characters in them, often writing the same scene multiple ways before it's right. She never thought she could write this way because of her struggles with perfectionism but has found that she actually loves it in practice. 

Examples: a) Laini didn't find out who Scarab was until she started writing her. Important elements such as the heart strings came from getting the character talking on the page. b) In Days, Laini knew she was working towards the Thiago/Ziri event, but thought it would happen at the end of act one, until she started writing the book. 

6) Hair: Laini's hair's been pink for 7 years. She says it makes her easily noticed when she wants to be found, but it's impossible to sneak out of a boring conference session. 

7) How did she come up with her characters' names? Naming characters is something Laini loves to do, and she does try to make them fit together. For instance she used Hebrew names for the Seraph In fact, she enjoys exploring the idea "what if everything came out of something else?" Like what if the Hebrew names were originally from the Seraph?  Also, sometimes she chooses a not well known county and looks at village names, because they are names that have stood through time but are also obscure. 

8) Ziri means Moonlight in an obscure language. 

9) Will she write more stories from this world in the future? Not now. She needs to step away from this world and explore other things first, but it is definitely a possibility.

Akiva and Karou's First Meeting fan art*
10) What is her research process? Places Laini wants to visit are also featured locations in her books. She visited Prague with her husband Jim originally for another book which was never written, but she used the material for Daughter. Morocco was chosen as a setting because of her desire to visit. Laini used guide books to write the Moroccan scenes in Daughter. Then she visited before writing Days and ended up using the southern region with its Kazbahs as the setting for the second book.

11) Because she didn't plan her series in advance, in hindsight, does she wish she'd set anything up differently? Little things but nothing major. She doesn't world build ahead of time, and waits until she needs to know something before she starts to write it. In this way she lets the story direct the world building. Laini says she considers writing to be like beach combing. Every day she finds something different, and if she'd written a scene another day, it might have turned out differently. 

12) Are there any characters that jumped out more after she started writing them? Eliza. Laini knew she wanted to experience the event at the end of Days through the eyes of a human and a scientist. But last summer when she was trying to get the story to come together, Eliza ended up taking on a much bigger role. 

13) What is happening with the movie process for Daughter? Laini is an executive producer on the movie and feels lucky to have ultimate screen play approval. Though she hasn't altered anything major in the screenplay, she was able to polish the first edits on the screenplay that was written. From that they hired a director and went to Universal. She doesn't have any casting info, and will likely not be involved in that process. 

A mask raffled off at the program
14) Are there any mythology/elements she wanted to incorporate in this story but couldn't? She wanted more Zuz/Mik in Daughter but it didn't fit. That's why she wrote the novella Night of Cake and Puppets for them later. She would also love to see more of the end of Dream come to life, and explore what happened to the other six Seraph. But she doesn't have any immediate plans to do that. 

15) On the scope of the last book: Laini didn't want the final book to be all about Jael. She wanted it to be a bigger story. Because of that she knew she wasn't going to tie the story with a bow, but could finish the original elements. 

Laini's hair is casting a magical pink glow on my face. 
I think I could rock ram horns.

* Click through for more information on the artists and better images of the artwork. 


  1. Lauren, you can definitely rock those ram horns! ;)

    First and foremost, can I just mention that I am SO EXCITED for a science-fiction novel set in historical NY? It sounds flipping fantastic and I don't even know anything more about it, but it's Laini Taylor so of course it's going to be brilliant.

    I'm really glad we got to know so much about Taylor's writing process, though, because it makes a lot more sense to me, now, that elements from Eliza's storyline never made their way into previous books as foreshadowing. It would have likely helped me to cope with the jarring quality of the events at the end of DoGaM, but I'm not sure to what extent, really. Anyway, this looked like a ton of fun to be at and I'm so jealous you got to meet Laini Taylor - how cool is she? - but thanks for sharing, Lauren! Love your event recaps!(:

  2. You totally rocked those horns, LOL. How wonderful to meet the amazing Laini Taylor! SO jealous. It was very cool to learn about her writing process, and it really shed light on where Eliza came from (I really liked her character, but I was kind of surprised to be meeting such an important character so late in the game). Fantastic post!

    Jessica @ Rabid Reads

  3. Aw man, I had no idea there was a tour stop in Brookline! I need to be more on top of things! @_@ Those masks are so freakin cool

  4. Her hair is gorgeous! I could never rock hair that pink because I hate to be noticeable.
    Anyways, I find it really interesting that she didn't have an outline for either of her books and that she just goes with the flow. That's truly impressive and I don't think a lot of authors do that. I also like how she came up with the name of her characters. Looking into the names of people in a remote village is not something I would think of doing. :)

    Oh and I sure do love the sound of sci-fi book set in historical NY. Hopefully, we'll get to see that.

    Great post, Lauren.

    P.S Yes, you're rocking those ram horns! :D

  5. I think you should wear ram horns at all times Lauren. You totally own them:) So jealous you got to go to this event!!!!! I've decided I need to move to Mass. so I can come to all these things with you:) *starts packing bags* Love her writing process and the fact that aside from the endgame, she just sort of sees where the characters take her. Wish I could write like that!

    And Ziri. Oh how I love him! After Karou and Akiva, he was the highlight of this series for me. I just wanted him to be happy:)

  6. Wow, how incredibly fortunate that you got to not only meet the incredible Laini Taylor but have her field questions and witness her answers first hand! Thanks so much for sharing your experience with us :-D I enjoyed reading how she writes differently from the usual and how her writing process comes together. She is a brilliant author and anything she writes will always make it to my TBR shelf! Loved this post ^^

  7. Ah! I love this post! <3 It sounds like you had an amazing time sweetie :D So jealous. <3 I have yet to read her books.. but I own them all, so hopefully soon :) I think they sounds awesome. And ohh. You look awesome with those horns, lol :D Thank you for sharing. <3

  8. You look great with ram horns!!! :D

  9. Lauren, I am so jealous of all these amazing author events you go to! But that's awesome that you live in an area that obviously really caters to literature and authors and all.
    I definitely enjoyed reading about the event and Taylor's tidbits of information. And I love all the photos/images (some amazing fanart there!).
    And you do look great in those horns. Looks like you found your chimera alter-ego. :)

  10. You so rock those ram horns! I'm always fascinated by the variety of writing processes authors have. I tend to write better in silence, too. Music requires too much of my attention. Sounds like it was a fascinating panel and event!

  11. I loved reading your event recap! While I haven't read this series yet, I do intend to do so this year. It sounds like a story I could completely fall in love with -- and I really hope I do. Thank you for sharing such fun tidbits in this post!


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