KILLING YOUR DARLINGS
We here at Cuddlebuggery like to occasionally invite Jay and Amie to come onto our blog and share their hilariousness. Occasionally we feed them and allow them to return home again. But not this time! This time we’ve captured them and forced them to relate about killing their darlings and what that’s all about. So we hope you enjoy. These two are hard to contain!
(We open on a shot of Jay Kristoff in a high-backed leather chair, stroking a hairless cat)
Jay: When Cuddlebuggery asked us to write a guest post about the decision-making process involved in killing off characters, I thought to myself “Jay, old son, this is going to be the easiest blogpost you’ve ever written”. Because of course, there is no thought involved. If you’re a character in my books, chances are I want you dead. And the more hideous your death, the be—
(Amie Kaufman appears in a puff of fairy dust to the tune of an angelic choir.)
Amie: Hey. Sorry I’m late. I was just saving the whales.
Jay: . . . Of course you were. Doesn’t matter. I started without you.
Amie: Is that a hairless cat?
Jay: His name is Asmodeus, Harrower of Souls and Lord of the Blighted.
Amie: But you hate cats.
Jay: I hate everything.
Jay: Can we get on with it? I have several thousand acres of Amazonian rainforest to personally despoil when we’re done here. It’s not going to cut itself down, you know.
Amie: Right. What are we talking about?
Jay: Murdering characters in ILLUMINAE. The thought process that goes into who survives and who doesn’t. I was just telling everyone that no thought goes into it whatsoever, and everyone in our books is going to die in brutal and exotic ways.
Amie: Well, not everyone, obviously.
Jay: No, EVERYONE. We talked about this.
Amie: Yes, we talked about it. And I told you that you can’t just go around killing everyone in the book just because you feel like it. There needs to be risk for your heroes, sure. The reader needs to believe the protagonists could very well die before the end, and you can establish that threat by killing some players along the way. But nobody wants to read a book where all the characters have their faces murdered off.
Jay: Tell that to George RR Martin.
Amie: That cat is freaking me out a little.
Jay: Technically it’s not a cat. It’s a physical manifestation of a multi-dimensional form that has taken on the appearance of a cat. But listen to you, all “Character death has to have meaning, save the whales, have you hugged your puppy today”. Just because you fly about on rainbows and flowers bloom where you walk doesn’t mean I’m not onto you, Kaufman. You’re more bloodthirsty than I am.
Amie: I have no idea what you’re talking about.
Jay: You cut a woman’s throat with pinking shears for god’s sake.
Amie: I told the police and I’ll tell you. I was nowhere near that alley.
Jay: In our book, Kaufman. You cut a woman’s throat with pinking shears IN OUR BOOK.
Amie: Oh. Right. Of course that’s what you meant. I knew that.
Jay: What’s all this about an alley?
Amie: Doesn’t matter. But the pinking shears are exactly my point. You can have characters die, because it lets your audience know you’re not playing around. The consequences for your heroes need to be real. But character death should be used like a scalpel, not a sledgehammer. It’s like Joss Whedon murdering Wash at the end of Serenity. With that single death, he made you afraid for every other character in the climax of that film. He didn’t need to kill anyone else.
Jay: I thought we agreed never to talk about Washburn.
Amie: . . . are you crying?
Jay: I HAVE SOMETHING IN MY EYE.
Amie: Because it kinda looks like you’re crying.
Jay: My sweet, brave Washburn. He . . . he was just so young . . .
Amie: Right, are we done here? I need to go address the U.N. about the perils of climate change.
Jay: Yes, I suppose. I should really make sure those polar ice caps are melting in a timely fashion.
Amie: Pub tomorrow? The cast in ILLUMINAE 3 has gotten waaaay too big. We need to brutally murder at least four of them before lunch.
Jay: I’ll bring my pinking shears.
(Amie disappears in a burst of rainbows to the tune of Taylor Swift’s “Shake it off”)
(Jay disappears in a gout of hellish flame to the tune of Mozart’s “Requiem in D Minor”)
Guys, guys, guys, you need to read this book. I love it so much. – Kat
Published: 20th October 2015
Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers
This morning, Kady thought breaking up with Ezra was the hardest thing she’d have to do.
This afternoon, her planet was invaded.
The year is 2575, and two rival megacorporations are at war over a planet that’s little more than an ice-covered speck at the edge of the universe. Too bad nobody thought to warn the people living on it. With enemy fire raining down on them, Kady and Ezra—who are barely even talking to each other—are forced to fight their way onto an evacuating fleet, with an enemy warship in hot pursuit.
But their problems are just getting started. A deadly plague has broken out and is mutating, with terrifying results; the fleet’s AI, which should be protecting them, may actually be their enemy; and nobody in charge will say what’s really going on. As Kady hacks into a tangled web of data to find the truth, it’s clear only one person can help her bring it all to light: the ex-boyfriend she swore she’d never speak to again.
Told through a fascinating dossier of hacked documents—including emails, schematics, military files, IMs, medical reports, interviews, and more—Illuminae is the first book in a heart-stopping, high-octane trilogy about lives interrupted, the price of truth, and the courage of everyday heroes.