Q&A with Leigh! | The Grishaverse

Q&A with Leigh!

Promotional image for a q&a session featuring leigh bardugo, showing her sitting on a red leather sofa, holding a red mug, with stylized text of her name on a dark background.

Rule of Wolves, the explosive finale to King of Scars, arrives on March 30th and we know you are all eagerly waiting for your chance to dive back into the Grishaverse! To tide us over until we can read more about Nikolai, Zoya, and Nina’s adventures, we sat down with Queen Leigh herself to ask her some of our burning questions.

Check out this exclusive Q&A where she shares details about her writing process, character development, and what she’s working on next!

With each new book, we learn a little bit more about the world of the Grishaverse. Did you know everything about the world when you started writing Shadow and Bone , or are you continuing to uncover it as you write? (TL; DR: Are you a plotter or a pantser?)

I’d love to tell you that I’ve had this whole thing planned out for years, but that’s really not the case. My only goal when I sat down to write Shadow and Bone was to finally finish a novel. Then about halfway through I realized I couldn’t get where I wanted to go in one book, so I started keeping notes and outlining what I wanted to do with the rest of the trilogy. But I didn’t know if I’d be lucky enough to get one book published, let alone three.

When I reached the end of the trilogy, I knew I wanted to tell Nikolai’s story as king of Ravka, but I also wanted to take a break from the Grishaverse, write something new. Then the idea for Six of Crows grabbed me and it wouldn’t let go. In that case, I told my editor: I just don’t know if this is one book or two. I need to write it to find out. Of course, once that duology was done, I had a very different vision for the story I wanted to tell in King of Scars and Rule of Wolves. I outline everything; I have to plan. But I think in terms of a duology, a trilogy, a standalone. They’re all puzzle pieces.

How have Nikolai, Nina, and Zoya changed since we first met them in Shadow and Bone and Six of Crows?

You know, I think some people wanted Nikolai to just stay the same—glib, courageous, infinitely confident. And that privateer prince is certainly still there. But I knew when I told his story I wanted to show the price he was paying by always being the person people turned to for solutions and hope. That takes a real toll and I wanted to deal with that honestly as Nikolai grappled with the new challenges of being a king and coped with the fallout of the civil war. So, he’s grown up a lot, but I don’t think he’s ever lost his belief that with enough time, his marvelous mind will work its way around any problem.

Zoya started out as a straight-up mean girl. I had no grand plans for her when she first waltzed onto the page. She was just an archetype—cruel, petty, there to make life miserable for our heroine. But by the time I got to Siege and Storm, Zoya had already begun to reveal herself a little more, as a soldier, as a lost girl, as another of the Darkling’s pupils who had been manipulated and betrayed. The friendships she begins to form in Ruin and Rising and the responsibility Alina gives her by making her a member of the Triumvirate really alter the course of her life. She has so much to learn over the course of these books about who she is and about the difference between vulnerability and fear.

And my poor Nina. I’ve put her through so much. She’s dealt with so much loss and grief, and yet she’s never lost her will to fight. But I do think that ferociousness will start to mess with her sense of right and wrong. Her moral compass is a lot more wobbly than it was when we first met her in Six of Crows . She’s hungry for revenge and desperate to find a way to help her people and that makes her reckless. There’s a price all of these characters pay for trying to do what they believe is right and survive in a violent world, and they absolutely cannot do it alone.

This is a big (okay, MASSIVE) year for you and the Grishaverse with Rule of Wolves and the Netflix Shadow and Bone show. But now the world wants to know . . . What’s next for you?

I’m working on the sequel to Ninth House , and that’s going to be taking up my time for a while. But I have some new projects brewing that I hope to share soon. I just want to keep writing books and cultivating my role as neighborhood eccentric.

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