EVENT: Leigh Bardugo’s Book Signing in Manila

Imagine if you and I went to an author signing and I tell you it’s my first time (because I had to say the most virginy thing). You wouldn’t believe me for sure. Of course I had to be kidding. Except of course it is my first time.

Leigh Bardugo in Manila 01

The Author
That was exactly the case during Leigh Bardugo’s visit in Manila last Sunday, June 21st. It is the first book signing I went to and, you guys, it was so much fun! Leigh is wacky and hilarious and enthusiastic and just, it was obvious how very invested she is in her fandom. And I’ve always wondered if the author’s voice in a book somehow translates to how the said author speaks in real life or if he or she talks the way he or she tweets—because I seriously admire how writers phrase their sentences—well that can be said of Leigh. In fact, I wish you were all there, too, and were witnesses to her wisdom and energy. But for today I have a recap and, hopefully, it’ll give you an approximation of what went down. Here are some did-you-know’s:

  • Leigh is pronounced as “Lee” and, excuse me, because I thought it was like the word “lay.”
  • Alina Starkov started off positively different. She was a goody-good girl and Leigh was irked by that.
  • On the flip side, Sturmhond (one of the central characters in Siege and Storm) came to her fully realized. He entered the room and was all, “hey, I’ve got stories to tell!”
  • Like most writers, pieces of herself are scattered through her characters. However, she has this to say about her MC: “I think Alina and I share sort of the similar sense of humor, we’re both pretty pragmatic about life and I think I—when I was growing up I really felt like an outsider. I definitely spent many years of junior high in school feeling like I did not belong where I was. I hadn’t found my tribe. And I think, like, if you’ve read Ruin and Rising you know that she sort of begins to build her own family. She finds the friends and the people, and some of them are people you never expected her to be friends with in the end [but] that learn to fight side by side together and that really resonated with me.”
  • Unlike a certain writer we know, she initially meant to kill off [spoiler] but grew rather fond of him (THANK THE SAINTS!).* She joked it was the reverse of Game of Thrones and, I mean, that was so on point.
  • For Leigh, black-and-white characters are less hard work but also boring. “I don’t like villains who are easy to dismiss, you know, you get these villains and you’re like, why is anybody listening to this dupe he’s clearly bad news. So I wanted to create antagonists who, you know, you can see yourself rooting for—I mean, some of you do. And I wanted to create heroes who got things wrong and didn’t always do the noble and right thing, ’cause I think that’s more real, you know. I want magic to feel real. I want Ravka to feel real. I want Kerch to feel real.” (To give context, Kerch is a country mentioned in Siege and Storm and where Six of Crows takes place in.)
  • Six of Crow is her latest novel. It’s Ocean’s Eleven meets Game of Thrones and is set in the same world of the Grisha trilogy. The concept came to her when she was driving and saw a promotion for The Monuments Men and was then overwhelmed by the inclination to rewatch Ocean’s Eleven. She gave in and after that, she’s dead set in writing a heist book but with more power play.
  • Where Shadow and Bone is a “Chosen One” story, Six of Crows explores the opposite route: what’s it like to be not the “Chosen One,” to just want to survive.
  • When faced with a writer’s block, she talks to herself. She puts on the “bluetooth thing” so people wouldn’t think she’s completely crazy.
  • She’d always known she wanted to be an author. Actually, she has a drawing gifted by a friend from when she turned fourteen. It shows her in a book signing. (Dreams do come true!)
  • Leigh doesn’t read much contemporaries but she loves I’ll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson, Rainbow Rowell’s Eleanor and Park and Julie Murphy’s upcoming Dumplin’.
  • She is a fan of Laini Taylor, Tamora Pierce, Marie Rutkoski and Kristin Cashore.
  • When asked how she juggles writing and social media, she said she doesn’t do balancing. When she’s turning ideas into actual books, she locks herself in the house for two to three months straight. Like, her car doesn’t get drove and she orders high amount of take-outs.
  • Also, she and her writer friends would go to coffee shops or retreats while drafting and they’d police each other by collecting phones and preventing one another from acquiring the wifi password.
  • Also also, she doesn’t show her works to anyone during the early stages because she feels like, by doing so, she loses the magic.
  • She recently finished Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff’s Illuminae and her reaction was: “this is the first book I’ve read in a long time where, like, there was a twist and it felt like I’ve been punched in the gut. And then for like two chapters afterwards I was like, no, no, it can’t be real, no.” She called it “incredibly good.”
  • She’s taking a break from the Grisha universe after the sequel of Six of Crows (it’s a planned duology). HOWEVER, she intends to write a Sturmhond book and, ladies and gentlemen, I died. RIP, ME. A STURM-FREAKING-HOND BOOK. LET THAT SINK IN.

She had quite a few advice for aspiring writers in the crowd as well:

  • Look for a good agent. Or someone who can read your work and not put his ego into it. Those are “people who have understanding of [a story].”
  • Writing is a lengthy process. It took her a long while to find the right story and, before, she thought she could write a perfect first draft. So she encourages everyone to “just [write] and [write] and [write] until it’s good.”
  • She thinks taking creative writing courses or MFA isn’t a requirement to becoming an author. And while she went to Yale, she pointed out “going to Yale is not what made [her] a writer; reading and writing and loving books is what made [her] a writer.”
  • She recommends Save the Cat! by Blake Snyder and Jessica Brody’s Save the Cat! for Novels workshops if you’re having troubles with plotting and structure.
  • And she has a clear-cut message for owning your taste: “read everything, you know. Never let anybody make you feel ashamed for loving young adult or loving whatever you love, whether it’s fantasy or contemporary or whatever it is.”

Leigh Bardugo in Manila 02

Leigh Bardugo in Manila 03Grisha for Life!

The Fan
So, okay. I didn’t just gawk like the awkward person that I am. I actually talked to Leigh! Some of the conversation is as follows (paraphrasing here):

Shelumiel: What I really love about your books, aside from the magnificent world building—
Leigh: Aww, thank you!
S: —is that I root for almost everyone.
L: Aah, that is so nice to know.
S: I’m like, omg don’t make me choose!
L: *Laughs loudly.*
S: And I can’t fully hate anyone—
L: The King though—
S: —well, except Vasily—
L: Right. And the King.
S: Yeah, Vasily and the King! That’s why when [Sturmhond] was like, “and I can’t decide if you’re an idiot or an idiot,” I was like, YES! NAILED IT.
L: *Laughs louder.* *Joanna (Leigh’s agent) joins in.*

She was also curios about my name:

Leigh: Oh unique name! Does it actually mean something?
Me: It’s prince of peace.
Leigh: OH.
Me: *With swagger.* Yeah I’m actually a prince.
Leigh: Well, it’ll be really nice—

I believe she wanted to say it’ll be really nice if I was a real prince and could’ve brought peace to Ravka but she was interrupted. Then again, I might be fabrikating too much. No, that is not a typographical error.

Leigh Bardugo in Manila 04From left to right: Dean (materialnik), Tiffany (corporalnik) and Elva (etherealnik).

The Grishas
Meanwhile, there were cosplayers in rad costumes! Alina, Mal, Genya and Zoya were all present, together with three anonymous Grishas (representing each order). I didn’t get a chance to talk to the people dressed up as the leads but I caught up with the other three and they were so nice! Turns out, the keftas were created by Master Fabrikator Dean—that’s his official title from Leigh!—as in from inception to execution. He and his friends Tiffany and Elva are all med students (I know, I know). And there were four extra Six of Crows ARCs that were raffled to the seven cosplayers AND these three each got one. Crazy, yeah?

Leigh Bardugo in Manila 05This is Leigh upon seeing Genya directly in front of her. You can glimpse Alina (post-Ruin and Rising) on the right.

The Baby Volcra
Leigh talked a little about her stay in the country, to boot. She sang praises for adobo, a personal comfort food of mine and—if we’re being honest—most Filipinos. She tried Cebu’s famous pork lechon and a shake made from this sour fruit called kamias, which she mentioned she hadn’t known existed until she had one. And when questioned whether or not she tried balut, her response was somewhere in the line: “actually someone recommended that to me and I searched it and NO I AM NOT EATING THAT,” with all the hand gestures and facial expression. It was perfect. Another thing, if you’re not from here and are not familiar with what balut is or looks like, I suggest you Google it because the moderator commented on how the chick in it looks like a baby volcra (Leigh was all YOU DON’T SAY) and OMG I am not looking at it the same way again. Ever. Of course I eat everything in a balut EXCEPT the chick to begin with, but that’s beside the point.

So if you haven’t picked up the Grisha trilogy, I highly recommend you do now! I haven’t read Ruin and Rising myself—because I’m waiting for the paperback with bonus material (a Darkling prequel!!!) and, you know, so my copies would line up beautifully, all in the same keftas—but here’s my pitch: effortlessly intriguing, fiercely moving and with stunning world-building and a seriously well-written cast of grey characters, you’ll find yourself rooting for almost everyone, lead or otherwise, in Leigh Bardugo’s tsarpunk world. Her new novel,Six of Crows, is set for a September 29th release.

Leigh Bardugo in Manila 06

My friend Hazel of Stay Bookish went to the pre-signing bloggers’s forum and you might want to read her recap (there’s a local GIVEAWAY involved).

Massive thank you to Leigh Bardugo for being so warm to us, your Filipino fans, and National Book Store for scratching the improbability of this!

Leigh Bardugo in Manila 07I finally met Dianne of Oops! I Read A Book Again. Sadly, she wasn’t able to stay for the signing (she was cool enough to be invited at the forum).

Leigh Bardugo in Manila 08Joanna Volpe in her chic glasses.

Have you met Leigh Bardugo in person? Who was the author for whom you attended your first book signing event? Let’s talk in the comments below!

*The fact that I chose to bring this up, even if it has the promise of a spoiler, is enough a hint already.

You can also stalk follow me elsewhere! On Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr, Goodreads, and Bloglovin.

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27 thoughts on “EVENT: Leigh Bardugo’s Book Signing in Manila

  1. Leigh-Nope. Not planning to. Nothing against Leigh, just can’t start any more new series right now. Pretty focused on debut authors ATM.
    First book signing—Sara Raasch, author of Snow Like Ashes. If you haven’t read that, you should totally check it out if you ever find yourself having nothing to read.

    I was gawky and awkward, even though we had been talking through email FOR MONTHS. I’m redoing that by going to the ILF (Ice Like Fire) launch in Oct. The sequel.
    Fortunately, I was not gawky and awk at the MHTN launch. Thank God.


  2. Well, CONGRATULATIONS! I learned so much about author-y things just reading about your reflection. Funny that Leigh should say that she tries to make heroes non black-and-white, because the Aesop-ish ending was one of my main reasons for not continuing. (But it gets better possibly? I might not check out the sequel for a looooong time.) But like all the other points make me want to read this SO MUCH.

    And it’s funny how much smiling there is in these photos, because I remember seeing Leigh’s author picture as super spooky and, well, Darkling-ish. BUT THERE IS MUCH SMILING AND ONCE AGAIN CONGRATS ON A WONDERFUL FIRST AUTHOR SIGNING.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. First, thank you Alyssa! Second, yeah, she was so good at handing out advice. So are you talking about Shadow and Bone? Coz I had problems with that, too, especially with the pace. BUT. SIEGE AND STORM! I cannot put it down! I implore you to give it another go. Okay. There’s a new character named Sturmhond and AAAAAHH! He’s the awesomest ever! Also, when I first saw Leigh’s author photo, I had the same impression too. I was like, oooh she looks intimidating! But, NO, she was just so loud and funny and full of energy.


  3. Looks like a lot of fun! I’ve never been to an author signing either. And I’ve never read anything by Leigh . . . although I remember trying to find the first book in her series. Should I try again?


    1. It IS a lot of fun! And, yes, I think you should, Lydia. It’s refreshing since it’s set in Russia instead of the go-to England (I mean I love England, but). Although I have to warn you that Book 1’s pace is kinda steady for a fantasy. BUT Book 2 is such a rewarding sequel and much more!


  4. Now that I’ve finally joined the fandom I am extremely jealous that you got to meet Leigh Bardugo!
    I really liked the little breakdown you created for those of us that didn’t get to go. And I had no idea Six of Crows was going to be a duology, I guess I just assumed it’d be a trilogy. Regardless, I’m excited for the release.
    I’m currently reading S&S, and LOVE STURMHOND. HE’S CLEVER AND WITTY. Two wonderful qualities already! (But I’m only chapter 7 or so, hopefully he won’t turn evil or anything crazy.)
    And my favorite thing about this post was “I believe she wanted to say it’ll be really nice if I was a real prince and could’ve brought peace to Ravka but she was interrupted. Then again, I might be fabrikating too much.” Of course, you’d use fabrikating if you found an appropriate moment.
    Anyway, love this post, Shelumiel! I’m so glad she was able to visit PH and you were able to meet her! 😀

    Liked by 1 person

    1. AAAAAAAHH – after the book, I want to hear what you think of Sturmhond! But, yeah, I was very suspicious of him, too. And I think nobody really knew SOC is going to be a duology until she announced it. Coz, like, the moderator asked if her new book is the start of a series and she said, yes, a two-book series, and the crowd was like, oooh. She went to discuss it further actually and I’m more excited to pick it up than prior the event.

      HAHAHAHA! But it really felt like that’s where she was going for! Like, I just know, you know?

      Thank you, Summer, I’m happy you enjoyed the recap and I hope you meet her one day, too!

      Liked by 1 person

  5. *repeated head desk* I’ve never been to an author signing EVER. Sigh. But this looks fantastic! I’ve never read Leigh (I did know it’s pronounced as Lee) but Six of Crows sounds fantastic, does it not?! I would have really liked to know what she was saying about your naming meaning Prince before she was interrupted 😦

    Also, okay wait a minute. Your name means Prince? Seriously? Holy ducks! PRINCE? Seriously? Rhea-if I’m not mistaken-is a large, flightless bird, like an ostrich. OH GOD WHY *shakes fist at heavens*

    Okay maybe this is over the top because Rhea is also the name of the Titan Goddess mom of Zeus, Hades and Poseidon.

    You know what? I think I’ve digressed. WHAT WERE WE TALKING ABOUT AGAIN?!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Uh, PRINCE OF PEACE. Let us not forget the peace part. That’s what I was told growing. Now, I’m afraid to do an in depth research… Coz I already told Leigh! Oh gods. ALSO, if it makes you feel any better, the Titan Rhea in Percy Jackson’s Greek Gods is pretty demented. HAHAHAHA!

      I hope you can go to your first book signing soon! It’s srsly fun! (Well, I guess depending on the author/venue/organizer—that is not helping!) And, yeah, SOC sounds sick awesome!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Thanks, man. You make me feel soooo good about never having been to a book signing *glares* Demented, huh? Could’ve been worse, I guess.


  6. How did you even get those quotes? Haha, but I always do try to be the first to have a signing recap up, so it’s just extensive notes that might be really faulty for me. And I was there too! >.< We totally missed each other.


      1. I had to delete stuff at the photo-taking itself. *facepalm* And yes, I’m THAT girl! XD And thank you!

        Sorry about the commenting thing, it might be the new anti-spam plugin. :/ Want to try again?


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