Skip to main content Skip to footer site map

BWW Interviews #1 New York Times Best Selling Author Leigh Bardugo

Leigh Bardugo has enthralled fans around the world with her stunning Grishaverse, interwoven series with one element tying them all together: The magical Grisha.

Bardugo first hit the scene with her debut novel SHADOW AND BONE, which hit the New York Times Best Sellers List, as did the two sequels in the trilogy. Next, she published her Six of Crows duology, both of which hit #1 on the New York Times Best Sellers List and won several starred reviews, including from Publisher's Weekly, Kirkus, and the New York Times.

Earlier this summer, Bardugo launched the first book in the brand-new DC Icons line, which begins with WONDER WOMAN: WARBRINGER. The book is currently sitting at #4 on the New York Times Best Sellers List for its third week on the list.


Tomorrow, September 26th, her seventh novel releases, THE LANGUAGE OF THORNS: Midnight Tales and Dangerous Magic. The title is a short-story collection set in the world of the Grishaverse. In the vein of J.K. Rowling's TALES OF BEEDLE THE BARD and Ransom Riggs' TALES OF THE PECULIAR, which brought fairy tales and cautionary tales from the worlds of Harry Potter and Mrs. Peregrine's Peculiar Children, THE LANGUAGE OF THORNS will also spin new tales for readers that the Grisha have grown up reading and hearing. The highly-anticipated book is lavishly illustrated and will sit proudly next to your Brothers Grimm and Hans Christian Andersen tomes.

Today, BroadwayWorld sits down with Leigh Bardugo to talk about her books, her process when creating THE LANGUAGE OF THORNS, and, of course, her favorite musicals.


Your new book, THE LANGUAGE OF THORNS, is full of short stories that take place in the Grishaverse. Which one was your favorite to write? The hardest? The one that wanted to be told the most?

"Ayama and the Thorn Wood" was probably my favorite because it's a story about stories and the truths they tell. "When Water Sang Fire" definitely put me through my paces. I had to think through a whole new magic system and the rules of Ulla's undersea world. I loved getting lost in it, but it was also the biggest challenge.

How did you decide what sort of tales you would tell in the world of Grishaverse? Some have elements of lore in them while others are wholly original. Did you decide you wanted to include various elements before piecing the stories together or did it happen naturally?

They all evolved from different sources and in different ways. One of the story-within-a-story pieces of Ayama was inspired by an episode of one of my favorite podcasts, Stuff You Missed in History. Many, like "The Witch of Duva," grew out of my discomfort with some of the tropes we find repeated in folk and fairy tales. "The Too-Clever Fox" began with a line from SIEGE AND STORM. I described a character as being like the too-clever fox who thinks just because he has avoided one trap, he'll escape the next. I didn't know the story then, only the lesson it was meant to teach and the impression I wanted to give of the character, so writing the tale was a bit like working backwards.

What are your all-time favorite myths and lore?

When I was a kid, I was pretty obsessed with "The Princess and the Pea." I'm still not sure why. Something about that image of twenty featherbeds and twenty mattresses? It's not a story with a lot of psychological resonance so apparently kid me just wanted a magical trip to Ikea.

I love that before becoming a published author, you were a movie makeup artist. What are some of your favorite memories, and how has the experience helped you in your writing?

I think being a freelancer really taught me to hustle and gave me respect for anyone who puts it on the line every day for something creative. But I wasn't a great makeup artist. It was a job I did between copywriting stints, a way to try to pay for grad school. To be great at something, you have to love it and I didn't love it. Still, I see a connection between that phase of my life and this one because makeup effects and writing are both about creating illusion. You take something ordinary, try to make it magical or monstrous, try to hide the seams.

Here at BroadwayWorld, we love talking about musical theatre! What are some of your favorite musicals? Were you ever in any yourself?

I was a huge theater nerd when I was younger, so I was in a bunch of school musicals-Working, South Pacific, Fiddler on the Roof, a very weird little operetta called Charlotte Sweet, Nine, The Wiz. My great heartbreak was completely botching my callback for Herod in Jesus Christ Superstar in college. Robert Lopez was the musical director, though we all knew him as Bobby then. I still want a do-over! As for favorites, I'm going to be obvious and say Hamilton, but I also have a soft spot for the corny weirdness of Oklahoma and-even though I get openly mocked whenever I mention it-Godspell.


Leigh Bardugo is a #1 New York Times bestselling author of fantasy novels and the creator of the Grishaverse. With over one million copies sold, her Grishaverse spans the Shadow and Bone Trilogy, the Six of Crows Duology, and The Language of Thorns- with more to come. Her short stories can be found in multiple anthologies, including The Best of and the Best American Science Fiction & Fantasy. Her other works include Wonder Woman: Warbringer, and the forthcoming Ninth House. Leigh was born in Jerusalem, grew up in Southern California, graduated from Yale University, and has worked in advertising, journalism, and even makeup and special effects. These days, she lives and writes in Los Angeles, where she can occasionally be heard singing with her band.


Love speaks in flowers. Truth requires thorns.

Travel to a world of dark bargains struck by moonlight, of haunted towns and hungry woods, of talking beasts and gingerbread golems, where a young mermaid's voice can summon deadly storms and where a river might do a lovestruck boy's bidding but only for a terrible price.

Inspired by myth, fairy tale, and folklore, #1 New York Times-bestselling author Leigh Bardugo has crafted a deliciously atmospheric collection of short stories filled with betrayals, revenge, sacrifice, and love.

Perfect for new readers and dedicated fans, these tales will transport you to lands both familiar and strange-to a fully realized world of dangerous magic that millions have visited through the novels of the Grishaverse.

This collection of six stories includes three brand-new tales, all of them lavishly illustrated with art that changes with each turn of the page, culminating in six stunning full-spread illustrations as rich in detail as the stories themselves.

Out September 26, 2017 from Macmillan.

From This Author - Bonnie Lynn Wagner

Bonnie Lynn Wagner has been a reader for as long as she can remember. Friends frequently come to her for book recommendations, and eventually, she decided to start reviewing books in order to share... (read more about this author)