Author August: Jay Kristoff – Q&A


To view all guest author posts so far and for a chance to win a £40 Foyles Giftcard visit the Author August Page.

Hear from Jay Kristoff about his experience of writing Nevernight, co-authoring and what he’s reading at the moment!

jay kristoffHow would you say Nevernight is similar and/or different to your other series’?

Well, it’s similar to the LOTUS WAR in that it’s fantasy and has a female protagonist. There’s not much similarity to the ILLUMINAE FILES at all, but tIF is science fiction, so I get a free pass there. I’m still playing with the traditional structure of novels, like I try to do in most of my books. NEVERNIGHT uses extensive footnotes for the sake of levity and world-building, and the narrator occasionally breaks the 4th wall. He’s got a stronger voice and presence in the narrative than any book I’ve done before.

The differences are thick on the ground. This is the first euro-centric fantasy I’ve done—the world is heavily inspired by ancient Rome and merchant prince Venice. Mia is the first anti-hero I’ve written, and the challenges of keeping her likeable but as dark and brutal as I imagined her were myriad. NEVERNIGHT also has the first explicit smut scenes I’ve ever written, and the thought of my mum (who reads all my books) getting her hands on this thing is deeply disturbing.


You mentioned in a previous interview when referring to The Lotus War series that “victory without sacrifice is meaningless”, would you say this statement also rings true for Mia in Nevernight?

No question. This is an absolute truth for me as a writer, my single golden rule, in fact. Victory must be paid for in blood. I want to be afraid for the characters I love. I want them to hurt. Call me a sadist, but I find stories where the hero loses nothing of themselves the purest kind of tedium.


23 May Nevernight Royal HB.inddWhat was the inspiration for Nevernight? Was there a particular trigger for writing a new fantasy series?

This is a strange story, and not exactly PG. But the inspiration for Mia (the anti-hero of NEVERNIGHT) was actually a debate I saw between two female friends of mine on NYE. The debate was about a particular English curse word, and whether or not it should be as frowned upon as it is. Over the next few days I was thinking about that argument, and ended up writing a scene about it. In it, a boy put forward an argument about this word, and a girl smoked a cigarette and told him why he was wrong. And at the end of that discussion, the boy was in love.

I didn’t know who this girl was, or what she wanted, so I wrote a book about her to find out. And that original scene is still in the book. End of Chapter 5.


Do you feel that Nevernight has a similar audience to The Lotus War trilogy? A mixture of older YA readers and adult readers?

I’d say that’s a fair assessment. The story is dark, and full of murder and treachery and occasional lashings of smut. Though the protagonist is a teenager, it’s certainly not a children’s book.

That said, I’m totally at ease with the idea of teenagers reading it. I knew I’d have a teen audience coming to NEVERNIGHT through ILLUMINAE, and I’m okay with that. I’ve already seen a lot of discussion online about the category NEVERNIGHT falls into, and it’s grand that people are talking about it at all.


How would you describe your experience of co-authoring a book? Was it weird to then go back to writing solo?

It’s different, but not exactly weird. I’m still working with Amie constantly—we were editing GEMINA (book 2 of the ILLUMINAE FILES) through the lion’s share of writing on NEVERNIGHT, and now that I’m working on NEVERNIGHT 2, we’re also working on ILLUMINAE 3.

Co-authoring is wonderful, but I think that’s largely a matter of choosing the right partner. Amie and I are a case of opposites attracting—I lean dark and bleak, she sways toward the bright and uplifting, and we meet somewhere in the center. We have strengths that complement each other and an enormous respect for each other’s writing, but also a willingness to work hard to get an outcome we’re both happy with. We’ve yet to have a major fight over anything, although I’m sure it’s coming. Probably over something ludicrous, like the placement of a comma. But writing solo is often a very solitary experience, so it’s great to have someone you trust and respect to bounce ideas off and get immediate feedback from.

I’ll never stop doing solo work too, but if you get the right partner, co-authoring can be incredibly rewarding.

What are you reading at the moment?

I just finished THE BOUNDLESS SUBLIME, a book about cults by Australian author Lili Wilkinson. I’m just about to start a fantasy called THREE DARK CROWNS by Kendare Blake. I’m on a YA kick this month.


My personal thanks to Jay  for taking part in Author August!

To view all guest author posts so far and for a chance to win a £40 Foyles Giftcard visit the Author August Page.

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1 Comment

  1. Love this interview! I love the sentiment that no victory should come without sacrifice. It’s something that I aim to do in my own work, though I hadn’t thought of it as clear cut as that.
    I’m still reading Nevernight and it’s wonderful and brutal and I can’t wait to finish it!

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