Spotlight Week: Author Interview with Leigh Bardugo

I’m so pleased to introduce to you all Leigh Bardugo, author of Shadow & Bone.

I bump into Leigh at various SCBWI schmoozes and events. I’ve always been a fan of her quick wit and sense of humor, and now I’m a big fan of her book.

Last June, 2012, I was lucky enough to be at her book launch for SHADOW & BONE. I enjoyed listening to Leigh talk about her journey to publication and how she had started writing when she was nine.

leigh book signing

At Author Leigh Bardugo’s Book launch in Hollywood, CA

Leigh has many talents. She’s a make-up artists whose skills can make any beautiful model look like the scariest ghoul. She also has a wonderful voice, and when she has time, she rocks out with her Captain Automatic bandmates.

Among other things, Leigh is a great teacher and she graced my group, CBW-LA,  with her awesome teaching skills. Along with fellow author Jennifer Bosworth, Leigh taught a workshop on Avoiding Publishing Pitfalls: From Draft to Deal.

leigh workshop

Authors Leigh Bardugo and Jennifer Bosworth with CBW-LA officers.

I’m lucky to even live in the same county as this amazing and talented author!


Author’s Bio from Her website:

Leigh Bardugo was born in Jerusalem, grew up in Los Angeles, and graduated from Yale University. These days, she lives in Hollywood, where she indulges her fondness for glamour, ghouls, and costuming in her other life as makeup artist L.B. Benson. Occasionally, she can be heard singing with her band, Captain Automatic.

Her debut novel, Shadow & Bone (Holt Children’s/ Macmillan), is a New York Times Best Seller and the first book in the Grisha Trilogy. Book 2, Siege and Storm, will be published in 2013. She is represented by Joanna Stampfel-Volpe of New Leaf.

Leigh’s Social Media Sites:





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The Talented Leigh Bardugo

1. Tell us three random, unique, or weird facts about yourself.

I’ve never had a cavity.

My last name means “executioner” in Spanish.

I can recite Shakespeare’s Sonnet 29.


2. What’s the most unusual job you had before you became a full time writer?

I spent a summer as a beer girl. I’d applied for a sales and marketing internship, but I ended up lugging bottles of microbrew around Manhattan in 100 degree heat, trying to get delis and bars to stock it. It didn’t help that the beer was terrible.


3. What prompted you to take your writing seriously?

Such a tough question. I think I always took my writing seriously. The real trick was ditching my self-doubt and perfectionism and just committing to finishing a first draft. As messy as that draft was, it had a beginning, a middle, and an end. That gave me confidence.

4. What inspired you to write Shadow & Bone?

In fantasy, darkness usually operates as a metaphor. I wanted to see what would happen if I gave it real physical form. That idea became the Shadow Fold and every other part of the story arose from it.

5. Tell us about your path to publication. What is the coolest thing about being a published author?

My path to publication has been obscenely fortunate. I queried my agent, Joanna Volpe, at the end of October 2010 and signed with her in November. We went to auction later that month, and shortly after that, the trilogy sold to Holt Children’s/Macmillan. I’m proud of Shadow and Bone, but I also know that I got very lucky. I happened to query the right person at the right time in the right market. If you’re out there querying or on submission and it doesn’t happen over night, don’t lose faith. It’s not about the quick deal or the big deal. It’s about finding good people to work with and the right home for your book.

 For me, the best thing about being an author is definitely hearing from readers—whether it’s fan art or email or someone coming out to an event. Seriously, there’s nothing better.

6. What’s your typical day as a writer like? Do you have any writing-related rituals or quirks?

When I’m drafting, I do a pretty good imitation of a normal person. I work in cafes and coffee shops and I like to have writing dates with friends so we can keep each other honest. But when it’s time to turn that rough draft into a book, I disappear into my house and I don’t come out for months. I think my only writerly quirk is that I eat the same thing for breakfast every morning when I’m on deadline. Erm… and I occasionally sing while editing.

7.  What advice would you like to give to writers on the road to publication?

Find readers that you trust and listen to their feedback with an open mind. Write. Revise. Do it again. Then be kind to yourself. So much of this business is about luck and timing. If you put your work out into the world and you don’t get the response you hoped for, don’t give up. Have a good cry or a cocktail or break a vase. Then dust yourself off and keep making art.



Thanks Leigh, for that wonderful interview!

Tune in again on Friday. I’ll be giving away a SIGNED copy of Leigh Bardugo’s SHADOW & BONE!

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19 Responses to “Spotlight Week: Author Interview with Leigh Bardugo”

  1. Make-up artist and singer–VERY cool! And I so agree about luck and timing! *waves*

  2. Nigel Mitchell says:

    She does sound pretty cool, and her book sounds even cooler. Never had a cavity? I’m jealous of that

  3. How awesome you’ve met Leigh. I loved her advice to writers to be kind to ourselves. And her publishing story is a dream we’d all love to have.

  4. Right person at the right time – it really is all about the timing,
    She’s in a band? What does she play?

  5. tcavey says:

    Sounds like you were very fortunate to find an agent so quickly, but you’re also talented.
    Great interview!

  6. Nick Wilford says:

    Great idea! Leigh sounds so creative. I’m intrigued by the idea of the Shadow Fold.

  7. Nas says:

    Congratulations to Leigh Bardugo and Shadow & Bone sounds intriguing!

    Thanks for the awesome advice to writers on the road to publication.

    Hi Nutschell!

  8. Al Diaz says:

    Very interesting interview. I loved number 7.

  9. Wanda says:

    As a book lover, I never really thought about what all goes into getting a book from the authors pen to my shelf. But lately I’ve gotten a new appreciation for those who write books.

  10. ML Swift says:

    Nutschell and Leigh…I loved the get-together today. Bardugo…executioner…remind me to think twice if considering you for a CP! I envy your teeth.

    And I enjoyed your finishing remarks…break a vase…but continue to create art. That’s exactly what we’re doing and I think many forget that.

  11. Obviously that beer girl job was exactly the training Leigh required to succeed as a writer. Love her last name. Her genealogy has to be fascinating. Thanks for the great interview!

  12. Elisa says:

    Great little interview! I need to check out Leigh’s band and still need to read the book, it’s on my list! I hear it is wonderful!! :)

  13. Awesome interview!

    I love the advice given for writers.

  14. Akoss says:

    Great interview. I love that she is so humble about her publishing journey.

  15. Carina Olsen says:

    Yay! Awesome interview. <3 Sigh. Thank you so much for sharing. I just adore Leigh so much. <3 She's one of the best persons and author. And Shadow and Bone is one of the best books 😀

  16. Julie says:

    I’m impressed that Leigh’s never had a cavity, and I love the meaning of her last name! Thanks for another fun interview Nutschell!

  17. deniz says:

    Great interview. Congratulations on your release!
    It must be fun being a makeup artist too :-)

  18. […] And if you missed it, here’s the link to my interview with Leigh Bardugo. […]

  19. “Ditching my self-doubt and perfectionism and just committing to finishing a first draft” — seriously, that can be the hardest part sometimes. Great interview!

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