I got to meet Leigh Bardugo again!!! I enjoyed her Grisha trilogy, but she quickly became one of my favorite authors with her Six of Crows duology and is now on my auto read authors list, so of course I had to go when I saw she was stopping in New York for her Wonder Woman: Warbringer tour!
I was fortunate enough to meet her at BookCon and get her to sign the Six of Crows duology and Shadow and Bone for me, but I couldn’t pass up an opportunity to meet her again and get her to sign Wonder Woman, which I’ve been eagerly anticipating ever since I saw her talk about it at BookCon (you can actually watch the DC Icons panel from BookCon here!).
This panel was amazing from the very beginning. Bardugo and moderator Daniel Jose Older are good friends and critique partners, and even though they said they’ve never done an event together before, you can tell they’re really good friends. They had so many funny quips between the two of them that I was laughing the entire time! Here are a few examples:
They started out talking about what it was like for Bardugo to write in someone else’s world and how she chose what to keep from the canon and what to leave out. Basically, she chose all of the parts that appealed to her and then put everything else in a vacuum lock, including Steve, though they joked that they’d be willing to keep Chris Pine!
Older then transitioned into asking Bardugo about the diversity in her books and how she approaches writing about people who are different from her. Right off the bat, she said that authors can’t congratulate themselves on doing diversity well, because that’s when things start to go sideways. Instead, she recommended using it as a reminder to keep working at including diverse characters and an opportunity to promote diverse authors. She also recommended questioning why you want to tell a specific diverse story and whether that’s really the story you should be telling. And of course, she said you have to rely on friends and critique partners and beta readers to help get it right.
Bardugo also spoke briefly about how excited she is for The Language of Thorns and how it’s basically crazy to publish two books within a month of each other. However, she felt that writing short stories has helped improve her writing, as she really got down to the sentence level when doing so much world building in such a small space.
Bardugo and Older were amazing together, and I think this is one of the most entertaining (and interesting) author events I’ve ever been to, and after living in New York for several years, I’ve been to my fair share! I would go see those two again in a heartbeat!
Unfortunately the discussion went downhill for me when they opened up questions to the audience. Audience questions can be really hit or miss and you never know what you’re going to get. In this instance, it wound up being a lot of questions from aspiring authors. Which is fine, but I’m personally not an aspiring author, so I wasn’t that interested when three quarters of all the audience questions were about writing advice. Plus I feel like authors tend to repeat the same advice, so if you’ve been to enough of these, you kind of hear the same thing over and over again. Don’t get me wrong, it’s good advice, but it’s personally a string of questions that I don’t care for.
That said, the takeaway from some of these questions is that, if you’re a writer, you just have to sit down and get your first draft on the page. It doesn’t matter at all how terrible it is, just get it done and then you can start revising and improving your story. Older added that you also have to forgive yourself for taking time off of writing and not beat yourself up about it, but to focus on the here and now. They also advised not waiting too long to bring in outside readers, as your story will get to a point where you’re just too close to it and need a fresh perspective. And Bardugo added that you’re never too old to start writing, sharing that she personally didn’t start writing until she was 35.
Someone changed it up and asked Bardugo where she got the idea of the warbringer and why she chose to bring that into the story. Bardugo said the idea has its origins in a more obscure myth about Helen of Troy having war in her blood, which Bardugo really liked in contrast to Helen as the victim or the temptress. Plus the warbringer myth casts Helen as the daughter of Nemesis, the goddess of retribution, which Bardugo is totally here for.
Someone else also asked Bardugo how she’s dealt with adversity based on gender, saying that she’s the only female engineer in her office and she’s not sure how to handle it. Bardugo shared her experience working for Fox News and being called into an executive’s office expecting a promotion after a big project and instead being told that they want to know she can be kinder (I’m pretty sure that’s the word she used, but I’m not 100 percent positive). Bardugo later went out shopping and broke down crying in the store because she was so upset, but she said that just being there and surviving is enough, because eventually you’ll become a manager or someone in a position to bring in more women and other people of diverse backgrounds and give them an opportunity.
At the end of the panel, Bardugo brought out the Wonder Woman shield and had us all pose for a photo with her.
I had a decent spot at the event, but I still had a bit of a wait until it was my turn for Bardugo to sign my book. Good thing I was in a room full of Bardugo fans, since talking with my fellow attendees made the time go by quickly!
When it was finally my turn, I told Bardugo how I’ve been waiting for this book since BookCon and how excited I am to finally read it. I wish I could report that I said something more interesting, but there are just so many people in line at these events that I tend to limit myself to saying I’m a big fan and then moving along so everyone else gets a chance to get their books signed. She signed both the book and the poster that’s included in the first edition printings.
And that’s it! It was such a fun panel and I would absolutely recommend seeing Bardugo speak if you get the chance. And she and Older could really take their routine on the road, they were so entertaining! Overall it was an awesome, awesome night and I’m so glad I had the opportunity to go!!