Fierce Reads Tour Recap, 6-book Giveaway, & Audio Treat!

This past weekend, Macmillan sent the Fierce Reads tour my way!  Not only that, but they were kind enough to ask A Backwards Story to be the Featured Blogger at the event! 
Follow Fierce Reads on Facebook and Twitter!
As the Featured Blogger, I was granted an exclusive interview AND a giveaway of six autographed books from Macmillan and attending authors Gennifer Albin (CREWEL), Leigh Bardugo (SHADOW AND BONE), Caragh M. O'Brien (The Birthmarked Trilogy), and Marie Rutkoski (THE SHADOW SOCIETY, The Kronos Chronicles Trilogy)! I also picked up some fun swag to give away as well, so there will be multiple winners!
If you followed me on Twitter during the event, you saw all my live tweets @abackwardsstory.

If not, it's okay!  Macmillan was kind enough to allow me to audio-record the event and post it online for you to listen to.  It's the next best thing to physically being at Fierce Reads, right?  The tour went almost an hour, so the video is long, but it's really interesting to listen to the authors!

This past week, I've posted reviews for:

CREWEL by Gennifer Albin
SHADOW AND BONE by Leigh Bardugo
BIRTHMARKED by Caragh M. O'Brien
THE SHADOW SOCIETY by Marie Rutkoski

Check out all four and stop back this week for more reviews of O'Brien's series!

 During the interview, I asked the authors a few burning questions, and heard some really great responses that I can't wait to share with all of you!
An interview with four
Macmillan Fierce Reads Authors
What makes you Fierce, or what is the Fiercest thing you've ever done?

Marie Rutkoski: She rappelled into a gorge and had to climb back up...and there were vultures.  And she will never do it again!
Caragh M. O'Brien:  Scuba-diving with a "crazy-scary eel."  And she had a pitchfork down there!  In freezing-cold Alaska, no less!  She needed three wetsuits down there!
{Why has this woman not turned her experience into a mermaid novel? Woe! ^.~}

Leigh Bardugo:  She lived in Mexico briefly and had a run-in with some bandits!  She hid successfully, and "staying alive" was the Fiercest thing she ever did!

Gennifer Albin:  Her good Fierce story is yet to come because she has an attitude where she will try anything. She always jokes that you never know when you'll need to do something for a book, which results in all sorts of random experiences! She'd especially love to go ziplining!

How do you go about world-building when you write fantasy?

Gennifer Albin:  Pinterest is really useful.  When she was writing CREWEL, she'd look up pictures, even for particular rooms.  There was a picture of a beautiful mattress she really loved overlooking the ocean for Adelice. 

She starts off writing almost a script with all of the action and dialogue going on, then goes in and starts layering the world.  This works for her because conversations reveal a theme or aspect going on in the world.
Leigh Bardugo:  Believe it or not, she doesn't start with world-building!  She looks at world building in two ways: There's the sense of order, the way power operates in the world, and there's the texture.  When she started writing SHADOW AND BONE, the power was there among the characters, but none of the texture.  She knew that would have a big impact on the story in Draft #2.  She really only knew that she didn't want it to be Medieval Europe and she wanted guns.  She used Russia as a basis and incorporated folklore.
She found she had to limit it because "We can use world-building and map-making and language-construction as a way to avoid going to the draft."  As much as she loves it, she put a cap on it. 
"The plot really starts to gel when you can't separate the world-building from the plot anymore...and that's a magical sort of alchemy that happens in the work."
Caragh M. O'Brien:  Agreed with Leigh on being unable to separate world-building from plot.  She also thinks about everything in terms of setting and power or the world of a society.  This was especially true for her during PRIZED because the environment was so connected to the problems that were happening.
She has to start by physically walking into the scene to see what's going on because the physical setting of the place comes to her first.
Marie Rutkoski: World-building is very important to her, and there are many ways in which she can answer such a question.  Sometimes she thinks about how it would be if an alien came to our world and what would strike that alien.  It might be a high school or a library or a street scene...what would be elements of our culture that have become invisible to us because they're so ordinary?
She's fascinated by culture of various kinds and representing new cultures is something she loves to do.  She likes to give traits to a new society that aren't the same as our own but might stand out to us as sort of alien observers.

What are you reading right now?

Leigh Bardugo: THE MAGICIANS by Lev Grossman

Gennifer Albin:  About to start THE DIVINERS by Libba Bray

Caragh M. O'Brien: Just finished something and isn't ready to read something else.  On her TBR pile is EVERY DAY by David Levithan and THE CHILDREN OF MEN by P.D. James.
Marie Rutkoski:   Always in the middle of several books, but not reading anything while on tour.  She's in the middle of READING LIKE A WRITER by Francine Prose; this is the first period of her life where she's begun reading books on writing.  She's also re-reading PERSUASION by Jane Austen.

What, if any, input do you have in the cover design process?  What's it like when you have a cover re-packaged?

Marie Rutkoski: The Kronos Chronicles is in the process of being re-packaged.  She loved the old covers, but loves the new ones as well.  She loves that you can actually see the characters on the new covers.  THE SHADOW SOCIETY originally had a different cover, but she's really happy with the book's final cover.
Caragh M. O'Brien:  BIRTHMARKED went through dozens of covers to come up with the first hardcover, and after all that work, she was surprised when they decided to give the paperbacks a new look, but liked seeing the new covers.  She also thinks it's interesting to see the way covers are packaged in foreign countries, the way their cultures represent the books.
Interesting Fact: She was still writing PROMISED when the cover was being designed, and this influenced an element she decided to include in the novel.  It usually happens the other way around, but it was still early enough in the process to work.
Leigh Bardugo:  SHADOW AND BONE had an ARC and another possible cover she loved, then Macmillan went in a different direction and she's glad they did.  It's perfect for the book, and she wanted people who don't normally read high fantasy to pick it up.  She thinks they did a remarkable task.  Her only major input was to strongly urge a Russian influence so that people would know it wasn't a Medieval European tale.  She feels blessed to be with Macmillan because the house makes beautiful books.
Gennifer Albin:  She received an email with three different ideas.  She was afraid she was going to get a cover with a girl in a pretty dress, and was thrilled when none of the ideas featured this.  The cover reflects the book really, really well.  She feels a little betrayed when she picks up a book and the cover says one thing, but the book says another. {Don't we all!}
What is your favorite Halloween memory?
Caragh M. O'Brien:  It was a tradition in her family not to wear masks.  Her father used to paint their faces with watercolors.  She remembers the touch of a paintbrush on her cheek as he puts the colors on his face.  He never used watercolor at any other time, just for Halloween.  She's done this with her children as well.
Leigh Bardugo:  Her mom worked a lot as a kid, more than full-time.  She remembers Halloween rolling around and knowing her mom was often unable to get time off.  The holiday was like their Christmas or New Year's, come hell or high water.  She later found out that her mom faced off with one of the partners at her law firm and was like, "Fire me if you want to.  I'm taking my kid Trick or Treating."  She has very happy memories of her and her mother as a kid.

Gennifer Albin: Her favorite memories are of her children.  The first time her son went Trick or Treating, she made him an adorable puppy costume because he loved puppies.  She lived in a college town with beautiful old houses; at the first house, they gave him candy.  He took off down the stairs (he was only about 15 months old) and just ran toward the next house.  She has an image of him running with the floppy ears.  When they woke up in the morning, they found him covered in chocolate...he had chewed off the wrappers!
Marie Rutkoski: Her favorite memory is the smell and taste of roasting pumpkin seeds.  You make the pumpkin, wash the seeds, and put them on a cookie sheet.  It's a very particular smell, and a very particular taste.
What are you working on next?
Marie Rutkoski: So far, no plans for companions or prequels or sequels to THE SHADOW SOCIETY.  Sorry! 
Her next novel, THE WINNER'S CURSE, will come out Fall 2013 or Spring 2014.  It's inspired by an economics term where you've won an auction, but paid too high of a price.  She can't say too much, but it's about a girl who is an Aristocratic member of a warmongering empire.  It involves duels and rebellion...but it's not dystopian!  {And sounds AMAZING, no?}
Caragh M. O'Brien:  She's working on another sci-fi YA series for Macmillan that will debut in 2014.  It's all still in the process, so she really can't say more yet!
Leigh Bardugo:  Is, of course, working on the rest The Grisha Trilogy.

Gennifer Albin:  Is, of course, working on the rest the Crewel World Trilogy.

Thank you again to Macmillan for bringing Fierce Reads my way and including A Backwards Story and its readers on the journey!  Thank you to Marie, Caragh, Leigh, and Gennifer for sitting down with me to chat, and allowing me to share some of that online!

I had so much fun and hope all of you bookworms did as well!
And now it's time for the giveaway you've been waiting for!

You could win...

YouTube Link

The giveaway runs through November 11th, 2012.

The grand prize of six autographed books is limited to the USA, but the swag will ship internationally!  Must be at least 13 years old to enter!



  1. What a killer giveaway. I'd probably faint if I won!

    Hehe, thanks for the giveaway!

  3. Need to win this...i would save some money since i want to buy these!!!!!
    i love this blog...

  4. Dying to win and review these books. Thank you so much for the audio feed and videos. It's like I was there too! You rock!

    1. You're welcome! I'm so glad people are enjoying it. I was really excited when Macmillan let me post it online!

  5. Thank you for the utterly awesome giveaway!!!! <3
    I don't think I've already entered for this, but if I have please delete any dupe (been up all night - half asleep lol) ((hugs))
    Mary DeBorde M.A.D.

    1. Will do if I see it! I always have that fear, too! :)

  6. Thank you, Bonnie! I love the interview with all the authors. I wonder which other cover Leigh Bardugo is talking about. I've seen a few, and really all of them are fabulous (though I'm partial to the ARC cover).


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