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Friday, May 22, 2009

SBBT: Empowerment with Kristin Cashore and a Graceling Book Giveaway

I am so honored to have Kristin Cashore on my blog today. (Kristin's author photo credit © Laura Evans).

If you didn't know this already, Kristin is the author of GRACELING, the kick-butt tale of strong-willed Katsa, who possesses a rare talent--a super power--the manipulative king uses to wreak fear across the kingdom. Katsa resents being used to ruin lives and hates her uncle, King Randa, for treating her as a "dog" and letting her believe she is only capable of brutal violence. There is plenty of conflict and confusion as Katsa finds a way to break through her image as a monster and realize her name can be one of justice and honor.

Oh, and there's romance--enter Prince Po of the intense eyes--not the sniveling, I'll die without you kind of romance, but one of respect and commitment--perfect for a powerful girl like Katsa. Mmmm. 

And the ending! Ahhhh! No spoilers from me. However, have no fear.  I know you want this book.  Houghton Mifflin Harcourt has been kind to offer 10 copies of Graceling for a Book Giveaway!! Details at the end of the interview.

Check out all the awards for GRACELING (taken from Kristin's blog):
Shortlisted for the ALA's William C. Morris Award.
A finalist for the Andre Norton Award for Young Adult Science Fiction and Fantasy (the SFWA's award for YA given concurrently with the Nebulas).
An Indies Choice Book Award finalist in the category of Best Indie Young Adult Buzz Book.
Cybils finalist in the category of Fantasy and Science Fiction.
An ALA Best Book for Young Adults.
Publishers Weekly Best Book of the Year.
School Library Journal Best Book of 2008.
One of Amazon.com's Best Books of 2008.
#2 on the Winter 2009 Indie Next Kid's List. 
One of Booklist's 2008 Top Ten First Novels for Youth.
On the 2009 Amelia Bloomer List (Recommended Feminist Literature for Birth through 18)
[Updated Award] Finalist for the 2009 SIBA Book Awards in the YA category

Kristin's second book, the highly anticipated FIRE, will be out this Fall. People have been scrambling for an ARC, but they are sooooo difficult to find. And it's so hard to wait, after seeing all the good reviews (Note: I didn't read these reviews--be forewarned, there may be spoilers). While I couldn't get any ARCs for the Book Giveaway, there may be something cool in the future, so stay tuned.

It has been fantastic having Kristin here and being able to pick her brain. She is a talented writer who pays attention to the details, and it shows. Wait until you read Kristin's interview. You're going to love what she has to say. 

Without further ado, here is Kristin Cashore:
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HWM: What made you realize you wanted to write books for teens?
Kristin: I don’t think I’ve ever realized that, actually. It’s more that the characters that come to me tend to be teenagers, so I go ahead and write books about them. I don’t envision anything particular about my audience while I’m writing—other than that it’s an intelligent audience. I’m only ever trying to be true to my characters!

HWM: Tell me what inspired GRACELING and Katsa.  
Kristin: The truest answer is somewhere between I don’t know and I can’t remember! However, I can say that the whole thing started with the characters. Katsa came first, and unsurprisingly, she came to me fighting—quarreling, to be more specific, inside my head, with another character who grew into Po. Really, Graceling began as conversations in my head between two characters who were furious with each other. My job was to listen to them argue and figure out what they were so upset about, what was going on in their world, what that world was like. Katsa and Po kind of formed themselves for me—at the beginning, I was more of an observer than a creator.

HWM: Who was the hardest character to write about?  Easiest character?
Kristin: Both Leck and Po were hard to write, because—spoilers ahead!—their Graces were complicated, and tough to keep believable and consistent. Also, the reader’s understanding of their identities had to change over the course of the book, which made writing them tricky. The easiest character—or the easiest main character, anyway—was probably Katsa. I found her to be relatively uncomplicated, and she came to me pretty clear and intact, which is a thing main characters don’t always do!

HWM: GRACELING is very empowering for girls.  What kind of research did you need to do to create your characters, the political climate, the Graceling skills, the fighting scenes?
Kristin: *smile* Would you care for a lesson in how to construct a bow, tan leather using only natural tools, or make snowshoes? Because I have all that info on my desk here somewhere… let’s see, I can also tell you the basic principles of martial arts and how long it takes to cross various terrain by foot, horse, and ship. Oh, and how to build a fire. And the history of windows over time, and, um, other random things, and a LOT of stuff about horses.

I did do a fair amount of research for Graceling, but in retrospect, I wish I’d done more: more research and more thinking and planning. Graceling is, to my eyes, an obvious first novel. I was juggling a lot of things at once, things that were new and hard for me as a young writer, and I let a few things slide. I see a few cracks in the world-building when I read the book now (and no, I’m not going to tell you what they are! ^_^)—cracks, and even places where I have small regrets. Sigh… I suppose it’s not unusual for a writer to feel this way about a book!

HWM: When did you know you had the right ending for GRACELING?
Kristin: I guess that depends on what you mean by “ending.” I always knew where the chips would fall plot-wise and character-wise at the end, but deciding how to express it involved a fair amount of revision. The original ending section was a lot longer and more drawn out—too long and drawn out, according to my editor and others. I whined and moaned a lot while shortening it. :o) But I’m content enough with how it ends now, particularly with my final scene.

HWM: FIRE, the prequel to GRACELING will be available this fall.  I understand it goes 30 years before GRACELING...I'm sad that Katsa and Po won't be here. What can you tell your fans about FIRE?
Kristin: I think of Fire as a stand-alone novel that’s loosely connected to Graceling. It takes place across the mountains east of the seven kingdoms, thirty or forty years before the story of Graceling, in a rocky, war-torn kingdom called the Dells. There are no known Gracelings in the Dells, but there are beautiful creatures which I call monsters.

Monsters have the shape of normal animals: mountain lions, dragonflies, horses, birds. But the hair or scales or feathers of monsters are gorgeously colored—turquoise, sparkly bronze, iridescent green—and their minds have the power to control the minds of humans. Fire, seventeen years old, is the last remaining human-shaped monster in the Dells. Gorgeously monstrous in body and mind but with a human appreciation of right and wrong, she’s hated and mistrusted by just about everyone. The book is her story, and if you’re wondering what connects it to Graceling, the answer is that (Graceling spoiler ahead!) one of the minor characters in Fire is a creepy little boy with mismatched eyes who seems to have some peculiar verbal abilities. (Fire is by no means Leck’s story, but it does reveal where he came from!)

HWM: What are the challenges in writing a series?  
Kristin: HA! There are many. One is keeping the world manageable and consistent while it grows to accommodate more stories. The world can start to get big, unwieldy, and uncooperative! Another is becoming re-acquainted with characters who may have changed a bit since the last time you encountered them. Another is dealing with the mistakes you made in the first book that can now never be undone; any limitations I created in Graceling are now permanent fixtures in all the books!

Here’s another challenge: I get the feeling that I’m frustrating some of my fans. :o) You see, I never set out to write a series. I planned for Graceling to be a stand-alone book, but then I got this idea for Fire, and found that I had to write it. The same thing happened with the book I’m writing now, called Bitterblue: I never planned to write a third book in this world, but then one day, this stand-alone book about the Graceling character Bitterblue began calling to me, and I had to write it. The end result of all of this is that I’m creating a slightly unconventional series. The books are connected, but they’re not prequels and sequels in the traditional sense of following one character through time. And this is confusing and frustrating to some fans, who are used to picking up with the same protagonists a month or a year after the last book ended!

I will say this: if you liked Graceling and are frustrated that Fire isn’t about Katsa, please don’t be too sad. I try to imbue every book with a similar spirit, so you may like Fire, too. Give her a try. :o)

HWM: Anything you can share about BITTERBLUE?
Kristin: It takes place six years after Graceling and Bitterblue is the sixteen-year-old protagonist. Katsa, Po, and other characters from Graceling are part of the fabric of the book. There are a bunch of new characters, too. Since it’s a work in progress, that’s all I’m willing to say about it at this time, other than that it’s trying to defeat me but I WILL NEVER SURRENDER.

HWM: What other projects are you working on?
Kristin: I think you probably mean writing projects, in which case, the answer is none. Getting Graceling out into various parts of the world, preparing Fire for publication in the USA, and researching and writing Bitterblue is all the writing work I can handle at the moment. However, in other life stuff, I’m planning a move from my current home of Jacksonville, FL to Cambridge, MA in July… and I’m preparing to become the aunt of twins in August! It will be my first “aunting,” as a friend put it, and I’m very happy. (And in case you’re wondering what preparation it requires, at the moment I’m researching twin jogging strollers.)

HWM: What do you like writing the most: the beginning, middle or the end of the story?
Kristin: Oh, easiest question E.V.E.R. Definitely not the beginning; beginnings are absolute murder. Definitely not the middle; middles are murk. Definitely the end! Ends write themselves. (*knocks on wood*) Seriously, though—by the end, you know your characters well, it’s to be hoped that they’re done surprising you, and you finally see for certain where everything has been going all this time. I tend to write endings in this huge ridiculous burst that involves little sleep, hygiene, or interaction with other humans. The closer you get to the end, the more the book takes over your life, and it doesn’t release you until you’ve written that final word.

HWM: I've read on your blog that you write your books out in longhand. How long did it take for you to finish Graceling?
Kristin: The first draft took about a year and a half of full-time writing. However, I don’t think the length of time a book takes has much to do with whether I’m writing or typing it. I’m the kind of writer who’s constantly revising while I write, and that’s what slows me down.

Here’s how the longhand thing works: (1) I write in my notebook, crossing out and revising as I go. (2) After I’ve written 30 or 40 pages longhand, I use voice recognition software to transfer the written pages into the Word file of the novel. I use the software because it’s not healthy for your arms and hands to type 40 pages fast all at once, and I experience pain and regret if I try to do so! (3) I save the Word file on multiple drives and email it to all my email accounts. I also keep my notebook, the paper printout of the Word file, and my book plan in a fireproof safe, because I’m a paranoid freak.

Care for some visual aids?

My Notebook on a Good Day:









My Notebook on a Bad Day:








HWM: Describe a favorite fan moment.
Kristin: My favorite fan moments are quiet moments alone in my office at my computer. When a person who’s just read one of my books takes the time to seek me out and tell me they loved it, it’s an unbelievable gift to me—every time.

HWM: What has been the biggest surprise of your writing career?
Kristin: Um… the biggest surprise is my writing career! I still can’t quite believe I have one!
 
HWM: If you could share any unique writing tip to aspiring writers, what would it be?
Kristin: Writing is all about listening to the voices that tell you you can’t do it, you’ll never do it, what you’re trying to do is impossible, particularly for a talentless bonehead like you; saying to the voices, “Well, aren’t you sad and pathetic, the way you’ll do anything to stop me? You’re wrong, you know. I can do it. Here, have a hug”; accepting that the voices will never go away and that a part of you will always believe them; and writing anyway.

HWM: What was the best writing advice anyone ever gave you?  
Kristin: The best writing advice I’ve ever received came from my editor, and it also makes excellent life advice: Don’t let fear make your decisions.

HWM: What question do you wish other people would ask you and how would you answer it? 
Kristin: I wish someone would offer to teach me how to teleport. I would say, “Yes, please!”

HWM: If you found a way to go back to your teen years as one of your characters, who would it be and why?
Kristin: Oh, goodness me! Someone untortured and relatively unimportant. Perhaps Po’s brother Skye, the sixth prince of Lienid—he’s cheerful, loyal, uncomplicated, a good fighter, presumably he has a nice house, and I have a feeling he’s pretty cute, too. Or, in Bitterblue, there’s a character who’s an “honorable thief” and a bit of a maven; it could be fun to be him. Another character is a hapless lexicographer. That definitely wouldn’t be my choice—too much agony!

There’s a horse in Fire that I wouldn’t mind being, actually. She’s not a teenager, though. :o)

HWM: If you were a Graceling superhero, what powers would you want and why?
Kristin: I have a hard time learning foreign languages; I’d love a language Grace that allowed me to pick up languages and accents quickly. I’d also love a Grace that helped me to find inner quiet—to keep perspective on the inside in those moments when life on the outside is crazy.

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Other Places to Find Kristin:
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Now for the GRACELING Book Giveaway (There are 10 copies courtesy of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt!)
RULES:
1. Leave a comment on a time when you worked through the "fear" and did something good for yourself.
2. Only one comment per person.
3. U.S. destinations only.
4. Deadline for the Graceling Book Giveaway has been extended to Wednesday, June 3rd.
5. Please spread the word!
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Other SBBT interviews:

Jenny Davidson at Chasing Ray
Rebecca Stead at Fuse #8
Ryan Mecum at Writing and Ruminating
Lauren Myracle at Bildungsroman
Kristin Cashore at HipWriterMama
Rachel Caine at The YA YA YAs

66 comments:

Kelly Fineman said...

TEN copies? That is generosity indeed!

I'm still working through fear at present, Vivian, so no real answer from me on that one. But I've quoteskimmed something from this interview to run on Sunday. What a wonderful interview it is all the way through - I love hearing about process and research. Thanks for asking those sorts of questions!

Mitali Perkins said...

We can't WAIT to have you here in Massachusetts, Kristin. It's a great place to write, and I'm sure the high schools will be booking you from now until 2020, so get your author visit hat on! So excited for you, and I loved this interview.

Vivian said...

I'm so glad you liked this interview, Kelly! This is going to be a mutual admiration day, since I've really enjoyed reading your interviews, too!

Mitali,
You're so right, school will be thrilled to have Kristin visit. And at the risk of sounding like an uber fan, I hope Kristin has some book signings around here soon!

Carrie Ryan said...

What a fantastic interview -- thanks!!

Ello said...

Fabulous interview with a fabulous author. And look! I'm commenting under Carrie Ryan - another of my favorite new authors! What a day!

I have my copy of Graceling so don't worry about entering me - unless it is for a Fire ARC - ooooooh! But I just had to comment that I love love loved this book! Actually I did tell Kristin that on her blog but I will do it over and over again. Can't wait for the other two!!!

Gwenda said...

Great interview!

Infant Bibliophile said...

This isn't the kind of book I usually read, but your interview has made me want to give it a try...maybe even for our moms group book club. A time I worked through a fear. Hmm. I scheduled a hot air balloon trip a few years back. I don't remember how I found the "company," but it ended up being a guy named Barney who met us in an abandoned field at 5am with a pickup truck and basket on the back. I thought "I'm trusting my life to this guy?!". I did, and it was a ridiculous, wonderful experience (every time he sneezed, often, the small basket carrying us bounced!). A great memory.

Sondy said...

Great interview and inspiring, too. My fear I'm working through involves writing even though I have those exact same voices telling me I'm sad and pathetic to try. I love her advice on what to say to them! I'm happy to report that I have one book being considered by a publisher, and in 2009 I have spent at least 15 minutes every single day working on my new book. I have a big fear that that is not enough and it's sad and pathetic to try, but I'm doing it anyway!

beckylevine said...

Great interview. And great book. So glad Bitterblue will be coming back. :)

Leah Claire said...

I love "Graceling" and would be super thrilled/ecstatic to win a copy. I think every time I've made a big move in my life--new job, new place to live, new relationships--I've had to work through the fear of leaving what seems safe and comfortablea and known for the unknown. But so far, it has always been for the best!

Charlotte said...

When you're shy, like me, there are many, many chances to work through fear! Like saying "hi" to the other mothers at the playground. Like agreeing to give talks. etc. etc.

Thanks for the great interview! I would love a copy of Graceling for my own.

Sarah Rettger said...

Now I know what to ask Kristin when I meet her next week (have I mentioned yet how psyched I am about that? Even more than Sherman Alexie, I think): What kind of voice recognition software? Having just transcribed 19,000 words from my notebook to the computer over about 2 days, I'm ready to try something new.

Erin said...

I've never been much of a runner and over the past few summers I've slowly built up the ability to run about 3 miles at a time. This is something I'm very proud off as exercise in general can be so competitive and terrifying. My next goal is 5 miles and so forth...

I adore Kristin's novels. If I win a copy of Graceling I'll be passing it along to my little sister. I think she could use a little female empowerment of her own.

Debbie said...

Wonderful interview and the book sounds amazing. I worked through my fear to start my blog actually. It was tough not knowing if anyone would read it, would they like me, etc. But now I enjoy it so much.

A MANNING/ said...

I would have to say that working through my fear of public speaking in speech class in school was really hard. I would get beet red when I gave a speech so if I wore red I looked a bit like a tomato. Once I mastered the art of public speaking I felt empowered.

espressogurl at hotmail dot com

Andromeda Jazmon said...

Great interview! I love the shots of her journal. I'd really love to get a copy of Gracling because the idea of learning to use one's power of anger for good intrigues me greatly.

I have a great fear of misjudging social situations and doing or saying something really stupid in an attempt to work through a difficult or painful situation. Things are happening at work now that are very painful and upsetting, and I am stepping out of my comfort to talk to people about how we can address it as a group. I am terribly afraid I am messing things up worse, but I have to reach out and do something. I think/hope if I say that directly my friends will gently tell me when I am getting off track. Do you think that is right?

Patty P said...

Thanks Vivian and Kristin! I'm a third of the way through Graceling and loving it.
Thanks especially for the writing tips and words of encouragement. Very inspiring.

Solvang Sherrie said...

GREAT interview!

I really enjoyed "Graceling" but since I borrowed if from a friend, I would love to win my own copy!

So, I'd say writing a book and submitting it was a pretty big fear to overcome. You know, that whole "I'm not good enough" "No one will ever want to read this" kind of fear that makes you not write another word? Just finishing writing a book felt pretty good for me. Submitting my writing and getting good comments has been even better.

Janicu said...

Oh I really want to read this one! Let's see.. fear. Well my fear is of heights, so there are a few stories where I had to supress it to do things I wanted to do: like I walked on a glacier (it's frigging HIGH up!) and climbed Sigiriya - I had to come back for that one because the first time I couldnt go the last flight of steps up. Glad I did too.

a. fortis said...

Great visual aids! :) I loved reading about how the story of Graceling came to be--I can't wait to read this one. I am DEFINITELY entering the contest, too!

So here goes--a fear I worked through. Geez, I feel like I'm afraid of so much and I'm constantly working through it! But probably the one that's most pertinent here is the constant, recurring fear that my writing or my artwork isn't good enough and I'm wasting my time when I should be doing something else. It comes in waves, often in the wake of a slew of rejections or difficult work days when I can't think of a thing to write, the words won't come, the drawings look terrible.

So far, I haven't given up yet, so I must be doing something right as far as getting past this fear goes!

KB said...

Wow. That was a great interview. I really enjoyed learning more about Kristin, though I'm sad I don't have Fire to read right this very minute!! I will be pre-ordering it though. Great questions, great answers. I will be tweeting about it!

Heather Zundel said...

FANTASTIC review! I can't believe you got Kristen Cashore. My favorite, by far, was the pictures of her notebook. That is about the coolest thing I've ever seen.

kristin cashore said...

Hi to everyone, and thanks so much for the stories of working through fear! I love reading them and they often feel familiar to me. Today, this shy introvert is going to work through her own fear and write a speech for BEA :o)

Mitali, thanks so much for the welcome. And Sarah, I have very strong opinions about voice recognition software, and would be happy to share them! (The short answer, in case anyone reading is interested: for PCs, Dragon NaturallySpeaking is without a doubt the best choice, the ONLY choice. For Macs [which I just switched to], Apple just put out MacSpeech, which is supposed to be just like Dragon, but SO ISN'T -- if I needed VRS more than I do, I would switch back to a PC and Dragon -- but MacSpeech does have good recognition if you're transcribing lots of prose and if you have the ability to reach in and type now and then when it makes mistakes. So if you're a Mac user, Sarah, and don't depend on VRS, it's worth trying. And hopefully, in time, they'll improve it so that it's more like Dragon!

Vivian, thanks for asking great questions. It was fun!

S.M.D. said...

Well, I remember having to work through my fear of the ocean in order to visit my significant other. She lives on the other side, and I am terrified of the sea, while also loving it (I like living near it, but won't go in the water).
I think it was made easier by the fact that the plane flew at night, but so be it. It was still scary...

Anywho, thanks for the cool giveaway. My email is in me profile.

eclecticmum said...

What a marvelous interview.

I was painfully shy as a teenager and when the time came to get my first job, I made sure it was something that allowed me to hide in the back of a room (gopher for our local library's summer reading program) but that only lasted a season and I had to go out and get whatever job would hire me.

I ended up a cashier at the grocery store across from my high school. I was forced to interact with people constantly for hours on end, and I didn't get to choose the people either - there were all sorts and temperments. Eventually, the sheer repetition broke through my fear barriers and I was able to look people in the eye and begin to have small conversations with them.

I don't know how long that process would have taken if it hadn't been forced on me. At the time, it was pure torture, but I'm thankful for it now.

YA Book Realm said...

I would LOVE to win Graceling, I've heard nothing but awesome things about it. As for the question, a fear that I worked through was speaking my mind about certain things even though I was in the minority. So far working out great. =)

Thanks for the giveaway and I loved reading this interview, especially because I haven't read a lot of interviews with Kristin Cashore.

Saints and Spinners said...

I read Graceling in one sitting, and that wasn't even during the 48 Hour Book Challenge! It's a pleasure to find a book that's so engrosing. Kristin Cashore, I can hardly wait for October.

I have had to work through a number of fears. I wondered which one I was going to write about, and then it came to me: driving a car. After my second driving test, I barely got my license the day before I left for college. For the next ten years, I relied on friends, family, bikes and public transportation to get places that were too far to walk. I had to come to terms with my fear of driving when my job demanded it. My brand new husband (who didn't have a license at all) and I went on our own to buy a car, and I drove it home with much anxiety and excitement. Over the next while, we'd go out to practice driving along the routes I'd need to go. I remember the first time I drove the car by myself. I could barely believe it.

Eight years later, I still don't love to drive the car, but I can do it. I can drive on highways, at night, in wretched conditions, and so far, knock on wood, throw salt over the shoulder, I've survived. I have prayers to start me out and little mantras to say along the way when things get hairy, written out maps and directions, and now a GPS unit (which I don't rely upon, but is great for reading off directions).

I didn't mean to go on like that, but it's amazing how such a big fear has turned into little worries here and there. Most of the time, I don't even think about the fact that I used to be terrified to drive.
--Farida

Claire said...

Fabulous and fascinating interview!

Beth Kephart said...

I love this interview. Another great, great insight into an interesting writer's life. Especially intrigued by the longhand, which I am doing more and more of myself. And voice recognition software! Now that makes sense.

As for fear: As someone who suffers from anxiety and panic attacks of the highest order, fear is a constant companion. Surviving fear has, for me, been about learning how to breathe.

felishdadish said...

Very nice interview! My fear that I worked through was fear of math. It has always been the least loved of my school subjects, but I decided I had to face up to it in order to take the next step for my career and go to business school. Which I did, and I'm going to start grad school this August!

Rebekah said...

As a teenager, I'm still mired in the seemingly hopeless terrain of terror that is High School. The children are vicious, and yet I still go (seven more days until summer, though - huzzah!).

I did have to conquer fear in getting to my current high school - I've been in a 'G&T' ("gifted and talented") programme from fourth grade to the present (and, presumably, until graduation), but I jumped from one to another at the switch between middle and high school. I went from a general-but-with-a-liberal-arts-focus programme (called 'QUEST'... I think) to MSTC - Math, Science, and Technology Center. I didn't think I would be smart enough - or studious enough - to fight my way through and not fail, and I was paralyzed in my decision-making for about a month before I finally overcame said fear and decided to go. I may hate it now, but I've come to realize it's better than the alternative.

Nina said...

Kristin, I am in awe of you and your ridiculously muscled hands. I can't imagine writing out an entire novel like that. My hands are cramping at the mere thought.

As for working through fear... this one's kind of long:
When I was eight, my dad conned me into shaving my head because he said it would make my hair grow back thicker (it worked for his sisters in India). When my hair didn't immediately grow back, I was absolutely mortified.
For ages after that, I wore this little pink hat to school because, oh god! I looked like a boy! That hat was so horribly itchy, and it probably kept my hair from growing faster, but I couldn't take it off because I was so incredibly self-conscious. Of course, everyone knew about my perpetual bad-hair day, but I was afraid of letting them actually see it.
One day on the playground, though, I had finally had enough of my burning scalp and all the questions about how my chemotherapy was going. I tore the hat off of my head and chucked it into the nearest tree. Then I proceeded to dunk my head in the snow. It felt great, but the best part was that none of my friends really cared about how I looked. For an eight-year-old, I guess that was kind of huge, because I’ve never forgotten it.

Kelly said...

Just wanted to echo that I love those process questions! I think I love Graceling even more after having heard more from Kristin herself. :) Kelly from yannabe.com

Melissa said...

Wonderful interview - I loved seeing her writers journal. :)

Recently, I've been dealing with seizures in my four year old. Her situation is not stable. My fear of loosing her, her getting brain damage, all of that has been challenging. I'm focusing on staying present and dealing with the moment. There is so much less anxiety in this moment - except when the moment is in the ER. It's a process.

Melissa
www.imaginationsoup.net

Robin said...

I hate speaking in front of people... but eventually I want to be a professor. And I have to give talks as a part of my graduate program. So... I do. It is still miserable, but it hopefully getting better.

I picked up Graceling, not knowing what to expect, and really enjoyed it! My husband was annoyed at me because I was busy reading and wouldn't talk to him while we were driving home from vacation, lol. I can't wait for Fire to come out now.

gaby317 said...

Hi, please count me in!

Worked through the fear? There are quite a few times although I still have to work on the fear on a regular basis! The most recent time was after my husband and I bought our apartment in Brooklyn and were meeting the other owners for the first time. It's a new building and we'd all just moved in but there were already some groups in the mix. I'm naturally shy, but we slowly went through the group and were able to speak to everyone, even for a short while. I'd been quite worried about that!

Thanks!
gaby317nyc AT gmail DOT com

Kouly said...

I loved Graceling the moment I read the first page! I can not wait for Fire to come out! So excited! :D

I'm currently a senior in High School and I'm graduating in like six days and I've always thought I knew what I was going to do afterwards: go to college, graduate from college, get a job, get married, have kids, etc. But now that I'm getting closer to these "things" I'm starting to be scared of the outcomes and doubting whether or not I want to do them. Of course I'm going to college next year. I plan on majoring in Biology, but now I'm not so sure what I want to do anymore. I'm in this mambo-jumbo place where I can't exactly pin point where I'm going. I've been doing a lot of thinking lately and I've decided to just let things come on their own. I'm just going to go with the flow. I've been planning for a long time, I think I need a break and relax. I'm just going to take things one step at a time. :)

kmoua035@gmail.com

Lpaez1 said...

One of the biggest fears I contemplated, then ignored, was the doubt & denial my husband-to-be instilled when I wanted to finish college in my late 20s. He told me it was not necessary, it was not constructive or cost effective and he may not marry me if I put "us" in debt for something that would not benefit me all that much! After weeks of deliberation, I DID it anyway!!! I went & enrolled, knowing full well I may lose him & our future!! I've never regretted it and I've continued to benefit from that choice to this day! Partly because I set out to prove him wrong? Partly because he stayed & supported me through 2.5 yrs of school with a full-time & 2 part-time jobs? Not sure, think it's the grace of GOD!
Thanks for this site & books that make me young again!!

Kelly H-Y said...

Fantastic interview! Thanks for sharing!

Christi said...

I've just worked through fear of failure and the dreaded "giving up" and am stopping a dream that I've been working on for five year (trying to make bras that aren't horrible contraptions of torture). Even though I've had the dream for 15 years, the reality of the situation was wearing me down and making me feel horrible about myself. Now that I have taken the plunge, the lack of stress and the possibility of new adventures is much healthier for me than the continual banging of my head against the same old wall. I haven't changed the world, yet, but leaving has given me space to find new and creative ways to make things better for everyone.

Emily said...

Thanks for the great interiview and giveaway opportunity! I have wanted to read this book for SO long, so I am pretty excited at the possibility of winning it!

One of the biggest fears I have had in the last year was moving to Los Angeles to go to school. I am from a VERY small town on the far northern coast of California. I was terrified of the driving, traffic, people, tall buildings, etc. But I have been living in LA for the past year and I have got to say, that I really love it. I never saw myself as a city person and now I think I just might be one!

emily.wittenberg@gmail.com

Con said...

I've written two novels, a bunch of picture books and some poems, and there's always something scary about trying to believe in yourself enough to do these things. But when I really think of working through a fear, I remember when I was at a regional SCBWI conference-- there was a small gathering in the evening for people who wanted to get up and read their story in front of everyone. Standing in front of even a small crowd of people is a big source of anxiety for me, but I did it, and people laughed in the right places and evidently I could be heard over the sound of my wildly pounding heart. Good question! Now I would be so thrilled to win Graceling, an absolutely amazing novel!

Priya said...

I'd love to be entered in the giveaway! About working through a fear...I used to be really scared of going down waterslides. After my friends forced me to, I realized how fun they were and I love going down them now!

suemaz55 said...

Mmnn, which to choose? Raising children and living through the fear of a major accident? Hoping and knowing they are confident and caring? Yeah, but I think the bigger one is switching jobs. Switching after being in one job for 16 years. Yep, definitely fearful, but so worth it. I got to spend more time with previously mentioned children. I'm reminded of one of my favorite passages from Dune by Frank Herbert. When Paul is getting ready to be tested, he remembers the words about fear being a mind killer and letting it wash over and through you and mastering the fear.

Mônica said...

Fantastic interview, and very inspiring!

For me working through my fear(s) has to do with making sure I stay in the present, dealing with what's right in front of me, not in the past of in the future. My dog does it naturally, but it takes a lot of effort for me! :-)

It would be wonderful to win a copy of Graceling through this giveaway. Wonderful idea, and very generous as well!

Jenny Girl said...

I would love to win this book. Here is my fearsome memory, and it is from a very long time ago.

I attended a public all girls high school. Kids from all over the city went there, so although I was popular in my neighborhood, I only had a small circle of friends at school. There were about 450 girls in my freshman class. In January of freshman year, we were allowed to run for class office. It was called Executive Council and there were 4 seats. So I figured, I'll give that a shot, always wanted to do that.
The Senior class ran the elections, and there was a question and answer session in front of all 450 classmates. Long story short, I was asked a question by the Senior, in my answer I disrespected the whole Senior class, and I was called on the carpet in front of everyone. In a split second I realized I was in trouble, so I just ran with it, sticking to my position. I was right. All 450 of my classmates agreed with me and cheered for me, thus enbarassing the Senior. Needless to say, I won a seat and I won every year thereafter.
I was afraid in that moment, and thought I would never recover, but I sucked it up,and stuck up for myself. I gained the respect of all of my classmates.
sorry for the lengthy story. Thanks for the contest!
jennygirl73(at)gmail(dot)com

Indigo said...

What I did to work through a fear?
I always feared losing the last of my hearing and equated deaf as literally dying...I went Deaf four years ago and had to learn to live with the silence. I wish I could say it was easy and I didn't try to end my life because of it. Unfortunately it didn't work that way.

I learned to embrace the silence to overcome my fear and now I'm outspoken about it. I share my world with my readers. I've opened up minds and hearts to what it's like to live a life of endless silence.

What did I do for myself? I learned to embrace me, to accept who I am...this person who doesn't let her deafness define her and become her handicap. I learned to love me as I am. (Hugs)Indigo

ravensquietscreams(at)gmail(dot)com

throuthehaze said...

Last year I worked through the fear of moving to a different state away from my family...but im glad I did. It has been a great learning experience to be on my own.

throuthehaze at gmail dot com

bridget3420 said...

This will probably sound extremely funny but I am terrified of clowns. I faced my fear and watched the movie IT with my husband (who was my boyfriend at the time) because he wanted to see what I would be like watching a movie that actually scares me. Horror movies don't scare me the way they do most people. My now husband was leaving for Afghanistan so I decided to watch the movie for him. He was more freaked out by it than I was. (Don't tell him I told you, LOL.)

bjhopper(at)me(dot)com

Steph Su said...

Wow, what a wonderful interview and giveaway! That awards list just keeps on growing and growing... and I love that Kristin uses voice recognition software to write! There's hope for the written (i.e., longhand) word yet. :)

I'm notoriously bad at thinking of good answers off the top of my head. Let's just say for example that this past week, at a teen author event, I was so nervous about being in a room full of people I half knew from blogs or elsewhere online, and yet was too shy to approach anyone. However, I did suck up the courage and, with a group of new blogger friends, said hello to upcoming YA debut author Michelle Zink, who, surprisingly, actually knew me and gave me a big hug! We continued to chat on and off throughout the rest of the night, and I left knowing that I had made a friend and have found a role model of an incredible woman. And all that from quelling that flutter of fear in my chest about approaching a person who's like a celebrity to me.

stephxsu at gmail dot com

Michelle said...

I totally busted up when I saw the pictures of your 'good day' and 'bad day' notebook!! Thanks for the giggle..

Okay, one time I went beyond the fear was when I quit my job to follow my husband to a job in Ohio - moving cross country and not knowing a soul when we got there. That took more than a leap of faith. But it was great - we met new people and above all strengthened our own relationship.

thanks!

mmillet at gmail dot com

Cyndala said...

I have a *horrible* sense of direction! (I once got lost 13 miles and one 90 degree turn from my hometown...in a town I'd driven through many times.) It's really quite sad. What's sadder is that it really made me hesitant to do anything (trips, jobs, etc) by myself for fear of getting lost. I've always wanted to be a librarian, though, and I knew I needed an MLS. When I made the decision to attend Indiana @ Bloomington, I did it not knowing anyone and with the closest friend or family member over an hour away. I'd only been there once, to look at the campus. I even rented the apartment over the phone/internet and had the lease mailed to me. It was an almost completely unknown environment. It was a rough adjustment, especially once the classwork started, but I really grew from the experience.

Bob said...

I'd absolutely LOVE to win a copy of GRACELING! I wanted to buy a copy, but there doesn't seem to be much room in the family budget for luxuries right now. Here's my story (it's told in a narrative/flashback format):

Carefully poising myself on the diving board, I ignored the rapid-fire beating of my heart and struggled to regain my composure. This was the dive of a lifetime; I couldn’t afford to make any mistakes. Launching off the board, I soared through the air and landed in the water with a splash. I resurfaced to no applause, no cheers or congratulations, yet I felt like I had just won a marathon. The numerous people around me milled about in the pool, unaware that they had just witnessed the overcoming of my greatest fear. Moments like this could never have occurred had it not been for the advice of my grandfather. He once told me that “only when we’re no longer afraid, do we begin to live”. I didn’t truly understand the importance of his words until I had experienced the triumph of overcoming a fear firsthand. Before, I had avoided all things that caused me to feel nervous or anxious, believing that it was the only way to approach the problem. However, my grandfather opened my eyes to a new challenge and allowed me to see that the true joy of success comes after doing something you thought yourself previously incapable of. Now, I am able to challenge myself to emerge from my comfort zone and “take the plunge."

robin_titan said...

oh what a great and interesting interview. I have yet to read this book but am very anxious to since I've heard so much and this book makes me want to pick it up already! :) I own a copy but my best friend has been wanting her own for months now especially since Fire is coming out soon! So I'd love to enter for her. :D

A recent fear I had was of helping this stranger carrying a few boxes out of a building I was in with my sister. I am VERY shy so I don't like talking much and well, if I want to help someone I think "just say hey you need help?" or something like that and want to help but I'm just too shy and nervous and wouldn't want to be yelled at since that makes me feel awful. It's happened before and I certainly wouldn't want it happening again. Well, even though it's not that big of a deal to most, I was actually pretty "brave" and helped that nice lady. She kept saying thank you over and over and it made me feel so great. I think I won't be having that much a problem doing something like that again. :) Pretty silly I guess but that's just how I am. :D

lc_intocable [a]yahoo[d]com

holly cupala said...

When I walked into my first local SCBWI meeting, I was TERRIFIED. I was certain that they could tell, just by looking at me, what a poser I was, and that any moment they would throw me out on my heels for presuming I could ever write. I didn't say a word, sat in the very last row for the first few meetings. Lo and behold, people were friendly to me. Nice, even! Still, I could barely bring myself to go. Then they advertised for a graphic designer for the newsletter. I knew how to do that! Somehow, I swallowed my fear and took the job, hoping it would help me to make some friends and learn the business. Boy, did it. A few years later I signed up as Asst. RA. Went to conferences and classes! Submitted stuff! Accrued my rejection badges! And sold my first two YA novels - all because I took that terrifying first step. There's so much scary stuff in the future...I can hardly wait.

MotherReader said...

I don't have a copy of Graceling, but just picked up the sequel ARC at BEA, so now I kinda want the first book.

Both times I've gone to NYC on my own have raised a ton of anxiety. Okay, fear. Would I know where to go? Would I be safe? What would I do if I got lost? Who would I talk to at the events?

It helps me to research, plan, and review before these trips. Look at maps. Ask questions. Remember that the grand majority of people are good people who will help you if you ask for help. And as for talking to people, I act as if I am the person that they would want to talk to, but still prepare to be blown off and then to look at it with humor.

Heather Zundel said...

I commented already on how awesome the interview was, but here is my entry to the contest for my fear.

I can be afraid of a lot of things. My biggest challenge to face fear itself. That is a terrifying thing. I needed to know what fear was, so that I wouldn't be afraid, no matter what it was. So I needed to find its opposite. And through my journeys, I discovered that trust or faith, was the opposite of fear. And I discovered that fear was doubt. Doubt of myself, of my own failure, doubt that the mountain would not hold while I climbed it, doubt that my sister wouldn't make it home through the snowstorm, it could be anything.

But then I discovered the most important part - one cannot exist while the other is present. It floored me. Once I realized this, whenever I felt afraid, I just stepped back and asked myself if I trusted that everything would be okay, if I trusted in myself, if I trusted in whatever I was facing. And then, the fear was suddenly replaced and gone, filled instead with something much greater. I still get afraid plenty, but I never stay that way anymore. I took the road less traveled, and I can tell you, it has made all the difference. :)

Georgia said...

Oh, what a FANTASTIC giveaway! I absolutely loved this book.

Okay, my story about working through the fear, I guess would be the second time I ever had a baby, and the other two times as well.

I gave birth to all three of my babies at home, and while I had prepared myself the best way I could, something always happens that is unexpected or not exactly as planned.

When my second baby was born I woke up, had a contraction and then my water broke. We started to get ready thinking we had a few hours, and within minutes I knew it would not take that long. My midwife was over a hour away, and the baby was just going to come anyways. It was really scary realizing that we were going to have to do it on our own, but then we got over that pretty quick and a few minutes later we had a big beautiful baby boy :) Our midwife showed up a little while later. ;)

~Georgia

Linda said...

It took a lot of guts for me to up and move to Japan by myself at 23...and moving back 4 1/2 years but to the opposite coast later was much, much scarier. I've landed is Mass. and I hope to attend a signing with Kristin sometime!

anidorikiladra said...

I would love to win a copy of this fabulous book!

I time when I faced my fear was nothing like Katsa's but still very scary at the time. I was at my very first swim meet and I was signed up to race the 200 Free and I was so scared. As I stood on the starting block I was shaking, then I herd the starting whistle and I dove in and swam as hard as I could, faster and faster as the adrenaline hit me. Lat lap faster faster until I felt the rough wall under my fingertips! All that worrying and I won. Before a scary thing can be even scarier than actually doing it.

Paradox said...

I could say something about public speaking or attempting to write a book, but something else stands out to me. A few years ago, I met my best friend. If I'd been the same social recluse I usually am, I would have never gotten to know her. I'm glad we started talking and found out we share a bunch of common interests, including books!

paradoxrevealed (at) aim (dot) com

Margay said...

There are a few instances of working through fear that I could list here, but I think the most significant, for me personally, was when I moved down to Florida (briefly). Driving all of the way down there in my little Kia with my two daughters and our cat (my cousin drove the truck with our stuff) - and then back when the move proved ill-fated - taught me that I am a strong person and that I can do whatever I set my mind on. That was completely liberating and an experience I will always use as the mark to the beginning of my emotional growth into the person I am now.

Margay

kristin cashore said...

I just wanted to thank everyone again for the comments, which are inspiring! And anidorikiladra's comment reminded me of one of my favorite movie exchanges about fear, which I thought you'd all appreciate. This is from the movie Three Kings:

Archie Gates: You're scared, right?

Conrad Vig: Maybe.

Archie Gates: The way it works is, you do the thing you're scared sh**less of, and you get the courage AFTER you do it, not before you do it.

Conrad Vig: That's a dumbass way to work. It should be the other way around.

Archie Gates: I know. That's the way it works.

****
Happy Wednesday, everyone. And Vivian, thanks for running the giveaway! Good luck, all!

Catherine said...

I have to agree with everyone above me...Graceling was an amazing read! A time I worked through fear is the time when I decided to become a foreign exchange student. I made a decision to come and live with a family I'd never met before in a country I'd never been to. Plus, there was a language barrier which scared me a lot as well! I had so many fears about the cultural values/doing something wrong or offensive. However, I'm really glad I decided to do it! :)

ironinklings said...

Thanks so much for running this contest and for the wonderful interview. I guess the fear that I worked through, was regarding my career path. I thought I wanted to be a professor, but I wasn't good at it and I didn't really like student teaching either. Finally on of my professors told me I didn't have the self-confidence to do it. It was horrible and I cried all the way home (train stations and all). But then I got the courage to become a librarian something I should have done from the beginning, but I didn't think it was a good enough career. I have a lot more self-confidence now!

Vivian said...

Thanks for all your wonderful comments! You are ALL fearless and I applaud you for your courage.

The contest is officially closed and the winners will be announced soon!