Jay Kristoff On Writing Assassins In New Book Godsgrave


Cover detail from Godsgrave by Jay Kristoff.

The best assassin is one who can leave her shadows.

Jay Kristoff has written just that kind of assassin with Mia Corvere, the terrifyingly complex main character of Godsgrave, the second book in his Nevernight Chronicle. It is the sequel to Nevernight, which I featured earlier this year as a Weekend Book Rec, and continues Mia’s story as she tries to avenge the murder of her father — even if it means toppling the heavens.

And those heavens are interesting, featuring three suns that never set, making an assassin’s work much more difficult without the customary shadows and darkness we usually associate with the craft. I enjoyed Nevernight, its type of story familiar yet its setting and the circumstances around Mia being wholly new to readers.

In short, anyone who has enjoyed Robin Hobb, Mark Lawrence, or Brent Weeks will enjoy Kristoff’s work. High praise but praise nevertheless. Oddly enough, having sent Kristoff some questions about the book, I found out he enjoys those very authors I just mentioned too!

Want to learn more about Mia and her assassin life?

Read below!

Unbound Worlds: The sequel to Nevernight, Godsgrave, publishes today. Tell Unbound Readers about the book and its main character, Mia Corvere?

Jay Kristoff: Mia is the orphaned daughter of an executed traitor, who has vowed revenge against her parent’s killers. In Nevernight, she trained at a school of assassins (think Hogwarts, but with a lot more violence and sex). In Godsgrave, she sells herself into the keeping of a gladiatorial college in order to get a shot at murdering two of the bastards who offed her folks. But once inside the collegium and fighting for her life on the sands of the arenas, she learns her life and her world aren’t quite what she believed.

UW: Assassins have littered fantasy literature for a very long time. What kind of personality attributes allow Mia Corvere to be your story’s assassin?

JK: Since she was ten years old, Mia has been accompanied by a strange shadowy familiar named Mister Kindly. Mister Kindly wears the shape of a cat, though he’s nothing close to a cat at all, and strangely enough, he lives by eating her terror. This leaves Mia feeling quite literally fearless, so she tends to throw herself into things without considering the possibility of failure.

She’s also ruthless, intelligent and totally underhanded. She may not be the fastest or strongest person in the room, but she’s almost certainly the most devious.

UW: What books with assassins have you enjoyed as a reader?

JK: Assassin’s Apprentice and the Farseer Trilogy was where it all started for me. Robin Hobb blurbed Nevernight earlier this year, and you could’ve knocked me over with a feather.

Other fave assassin books include the Bourne Identity by Robert Ludlum, Graceling by Kristin Cashore, The Way of Shadows by Brent Weeks, and of course ASoI&F by Georgieboy.

UW: You are a co-author with Amie Kaufman on the Illuminae books, the third one publishing next year. How is writing alone different from writing with Amie? Do you ever bounce Nevernight Chronicle ideas off her? Or do you try to keep your work separate?

JK: Writing alone is far lonelier, of course – one of the great things about being a co-author is that you’ve always got company (in both joy and misery!). Writing alone is far more intuitive, since you’re relying on your own judgement and guidance, rather than the immediate feedback you get with a co-authored project.

I tend to keep the work separate though, Amie and I have enough riddles and plots to untangle in our own work without me burdening her with my solo stuff! My primary plot-bouncer is my wife Amanda — she usually gets to see my novels at their ugliest.

UW: Will we see the third book in the Nevernight Chronicles next year sometime? Title? What’s next for Jay Kristoff?

JK: Next year is the plan! Although I haven’t finished writing it yet, so wish me luck. I have a working title, but nothing that’s locked in stone yet. But you’ll be the first to know, I promise.

But before that, I have part 3 of the Illuminae Files, Obsidio, coming out in March 2018. And in May 2018, I have my first solo YA project, LIFEL1K3 dropping too. So if you need a Kristoff fix between Godsgrave and book 3 of the Nevernight Chronicle, you won’t be at a loss for material!

Godsgrave by Jay Kristoff is in fine bookstores now!

Revenge is the key.