Interview (& Giveaway): Jay Kristoff, author of Stormdancer

I’m very excited to have Jay Kristoff on the blog today! Jay is the author of the brand new Stormdancer and he was kind enough to answer a few of my questions.  Also, St. Martins Press has generously provided a copy of the book for giveaway, so check out the details below the post!


Jay, you describe yourself as a “tragic nerd”. Care to elaborate?
Damn, that’s a brutal first question. You don’t want to start with my favorite color or something?

Hmm, let’s see. I’ve been playing Dungeons & Dragons for, like, twenty years (not every day, obviously) Imagine a group of grown dudes sitting around a table rolling dice and saying shit like “I bat my eyelids at the Captain of the Guard” and “Ok, make a seduction check” and yeah, that’s us.

I can quote you the Princess Bride word for word. I play Star Wars drinking games. I named my dog “Samwise”. There will be a guy at my book launch wearing a copy of Stormdancer around his neck like a Flava Flav clock because he lost a bet to me over a game of cards – not a poker game or something cool like that. No, it was a Game of Thrones card game.

I am to nerds what nerds are to normal people. I am the Übernerd.

You spent 10 years in advertising. What made you decide to take the plunge and write a novel? What was your inspiration?
I was still in advertising when I started writing my first novel (a very angsty vampire book that will never see the light of day), but I didn’t really get serious about it until after I got made redundant. I shifted into a different career path and moved client side (which means I hire the agencies now – agency-side work is death) and that gave me a lot more free time. Writing TV ads all day, the last thing you want to do when you get home is write more frackin’ words.

My inspiration for that first book was just a scene I had in my head that I felt like putting down on paper. I’m not even sure why I started writing it, but eighteen months later, it had become my first book. My inspiration for Stormdancer was a dream, but that’s a really lame answer so I avoid it where possible and make up BS stories about ninjas and secret destinies.

Stormdancer has been described as “Japanese steampunk.” Will you tell us a little bit about it, and about your heroine, Yukiko?
It’s probably fairer to describe it as “Japanese-inspired”. Shima isn’t Japan – I’ve riffed on Japanese culture, but some of it I’ve altered radically, and other parts I’ve just made up entirely.

But, Shima is loosely based on Japan during the Tokugawa Shōgunate, also known as the Samurai Age of Japan. The nation has been catapulted into the industrial age by a combustible fuel source created from a flower called “Blood Lotus”. So they have airships, heavy rail, chainsaw katanas and so on. Problem is, the technology is poisoning the air and killing the earth, but Shima’s people are so addicted to the power this technology brings them, they’re unable to let it go.

Yukiko is the daughter of the Imperial huntmaster. Her dad is something of a deadbeat and a drug addict, so she’s grown up with a strong independent streak and a disdain for authority. She also has the ability to speak telepathically to animals, called “the Kenning”, which sounds like a cool power until you consider:
a)There are very few animals left alive with all the pollution around.
b)The group who build all of Shima’s machinery, the Lotus Guild, have a habit of burning people with the Kenning at the stake.

What kind of research did you do for the book?
I read histories of the Samurai Age (books like Taiko by Eiji Yoshikawa) and consulted a bunch of great online resources about Japanese history and folklore. I hit up the Encyclopedia of Shinto and Wiki for info on the Shinto religion. But I’ve always loved Japanese cinema so I picked up a lot of my visual cues from films I love.

Other than that, I had a few friends yell curse words at me in Japanese and ate pocky until I could see through time.

What do you love most about writing fantasy?
That there are literally no rules. If I want to have a world where huge mechanical war-walkers and griffins exist in the same space and story, there’s nothing stopping me. Anyone who tells you “you can’t do that” or “you’re doing that wrong” when you’re writing fantasy has got it ass-about-backwards.

There’s no limit to writing fantasy but your imagination. This is the ONLY rule.

What are some of your biggest influences?
William Gibson. Alan Moore. George Orwell. Stephen King (I was reading him when I was 10, which apparently makes him YA – who knew) Great storytellers and character writers like David Simon or David Knauf. And strangely enough, a lot of the lyricists of the bands I listen to. Telling a story in 100,000 words is easy. Telling in in three minutes with a few dozen is hard.

Is there anyone that you haven’t met (literary or otherwise), that if you were to meet them, it would bring out your inner fanboy?
Oh yeah, if I was to meet someone like Zack de le Rocha (Rage Against the Machine) or Robb Flynn (Machine Head), I’d literally lose my tiny mind. If I met famous authors I admire, like the folks above, I suspect I’d be hitting them up for as much advice as I possibly could. But put me in front of a musician I’ve been listening to for half my life, I’d soil my panties.

What book would you like to read again for the first time?
I am the Cheese by Robert Cormier, or Nineteen-Eighty-Four by George Orwell.

What are you reading now?
Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Lani Taylor.

When you manage to find some free time, how do you like to spend it?
Well, there’s the aforementioned nerdy pursuits. I like hanging out with my lovely bride and staying married – that’s a pretty cool use of my time. Reading. Seeing great films. And bourbon. I always try to make time for bourbon.

Is there anything else you’d like to share with us about upcoming projects or events (or anything at all!)?
I’d like to say thanks to everyone who has given any of their time to Stormdancer – reading, reviewing, spreading the word on Twitter or FB or wherever. Seeing this little seed I planted grow into this huge thing has been amazing, and I’m constantly humbled by the energy everyone is putting into it.

If you’re planning on reading it, and spending some time in the tiny world I’ve made – thank you!
Keep up with Jay: Website | Twitter

Don’t forget to visit all of Jay’s tour stops for more awesomeness and chances to win!

1. You MUST fill out the form below (lots of chances for extra entries)
2. Giveaway is for 1 copy of Stormdancer by Jay Kristoff.
3. Giveaway is open to US  addresses only (no PO boxes-most publishers use UPS, which won’t deliver to PO boxes)
4. Must include a valid email address with your entry (no need to leave it in the comments, just include it when you fill out the rafflecopter form)
5. You must enter on or before 9/28/12
6. Giveaway books courtesy of St. Martins Press
7. Please see my Giveaway Policy.

a Rafflecopter giveaway


  1. Can’t wait to read this. Thank you for the chance to win a copy.

  2. I’m so eager to really dive into this culture. It isn’t frequent in YA fiction so I’m really excited to sink my teeth in.

  3. What made you think to use Japan as the basis for your story?

  4. I’ve lived in Tokyo for half my life, so I’m very excited to see a YA novel influenced by Japanese culture. Thanks for a great giveaway!

  5. The research part of writing Stormdancer sounds like fun and the love what you said about the only limit is your own imagination. Love the ubernerd title!!

  6. Stormdancer sounds fascinating! I’ve been anxiously awaiting its arrival ever since I heard about it.

  7. I’ve heard so many great things about this book. I can’t wait to read it.

  8. Actually no PO Boxes is sort of not fair… I have my po box on my NY Drivers License even. I do that because my partner doesn’t like me getting a lot of mail at her house.

    I can use a c/o brick and mortar address if you really insist.

    • The book comes from the publisher, which typically uses UPS. They won’t mail to PO Boxes. Sorry for the inconvenience:)

      • Interesting since Kensington Publishing, Henerey Press, Perseverance Press and Midnight Ink all ship books to my PO box… Even Penguin/Berkeley ships there.

        I just hope they don’t use FedEx Ground. I had a prize package in the system for 3 or 4 weeks bouncing around because they wouldn’t change the delivery address, and I finally told them to return the prize to the company that shipped it. I called the author involved and she literally shit a brick over this… This author lives less then 10 miles from my house and I could have picked it up at her home. LOL

  9. I love steampunk, and what a cool twist – Japanese inspired steampunk. I’m really looking forward to reading Stormdancer.

  10. I saw the white cover for Stormdancer a few months ago and I didn’t like it all that much. I guess that’s the U.K. version, but I’m not sure of that. Anyway, this version is so much more clear to me. I really think it’s an improvement

  11. Congrats on the book! Nice cover.

  12. I haven’t read much in a Japanese stetting before. This book will be quite a refreshing change of pace for me. It sounds like an amazing read! Both book covers are gorgeous the red or white one!
    Thank you for the chance to win it! 🙂

  13. I’ve been curious about this book since I saw it on Good Reads. It looks so different and different in YA is always a good thing! 🙂

  14. Looks like one to definitely check out!

  15. Nice premise!

  16. This cover is just stunning. I am seriously intrigued.

  17. I have to say I’m rather intrigued by this one. The idea and all that’s twined together here. Sounds amazing. And the research to do this. Amazing. Thank you.

  18. I’ve had this one on my wishlist since I first saw the cover and read the blurb. Thanks for the giveaway!

  19. This is one of those covers this year that just makes me want to read the book. That, plus Jay is funny and entertaining on Twitter.

  20. SP @ Oh! Paper Pages

    I am so excited to read this book. I love the unique concept and Jay’s personality is so great that I am sure Stormdancer is incredible.

    I love the background with the books and crows, by the way.

  21. Seriously this book looks amazing. Been staring at it at work and can’t wait to read it.

  22. Great interview as usual, but you never disappoint! I am really excited about this book. It looks and sounds amazing. I will definitely be reading this one.

  23. Rachel at theJeepDiva

    This book looks so good. Thanks for the interview.

  24. Pingback: Stormdancer: Huge Tangents | Soapboxing

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