Blog Tour: Leigh Bardugo on the Places of the Trilogy

Today I’m SO pleased to welcome Leigh bardugo to the blog as part of the International #RuinandRising Blog Tour to talk about some locations in the Grisha series and burning questions I ‘ve had about the places in the books.

If you could visit any location in the Grisha world, where would it be and why?
The Little Palace in Os Alta. I would give anything to see the Fabrikators’ workshops, the lake where the Summoners practice, and the little schoolhouse across the shore. And the war room with its maps! And the main hall with its cracked golden dome! I remember the night I stayed up drawing the plan of the Little Palace and its grounds. For me, it will always be the most special location in the Grishaverse. 

Where some places harder than others to visualise? Was it hard to picture some locations? 
Initially, all of the locations are hard to visualize. They only exist in the vaguest terms—a palace, a military camp, an orphanage, underground caverns. It’s when I get deeply into the scene that the details begin to come together, and that could mean anything from the colored pennants atop the Grisha pavilion to the water beading on the walls of the White Cathedral. 

I think the toughest and most fun location for me to visualize in Ruin and Rising was a place called the Spinning Wheel. I can’t say much about it, but I loved incorporating some of the constellations I’d referenced in the prologue of Siege and Storm and some of the Ravkan tales I hope to tell in the future. 

Did you do any special research in terms of location for the books? There is a heavy Russian influence; have you been there and to research, for example?
Shadow and Bone was my first novel and I was working a day job when I wrote it, so the idea of taking the time or money to visit Russia was really never on the table. But I’d love to go someday. I’d love to see Moscow and St. Petersburg, and Tolstoy’s home. As for research specific to locations, it’s no secret that the Grand Palace was heavily inspired by the Katherine Palace, and the Little Palace was influenced by the Church of the Transfiguration at Khizi. There are also several real-world locations that inspired places in Ruin and Rising—a chapel located in a Romanian salt mine, ice-lined underground tunnels, and some of the massive monuments erected in the Soviet Union.  

The world of Grisha is wide spread and complex; do you have to physically map out the world and the buildings to help you with continuity and flow in the story? 
I guess when I think about it, the whole trilogy began with a very rudimentary map—a country divided from its coast by a swath of darkness. But in general, the maps are somewhat secondary. I reached a point early in the first book when I stopped being able to keep track of where my characters were and the distances between points on their journey. As for the buildings, I really have to sink into them as I get deeper into the draft because the architecture does impact the way people interact. It matters where the banya is. It matters where guards are billeted and how people sit down to eat together. 

Any there any new locations or places in Ruin and Rising that you can tell us about? Or a returning location that might surprise us?

Oh, hmmm. That’s tough to discuss. I already mentioned the Spinning Wheel. I revealed the location of the firebird at the end of Siege and Storm, so I don’t think it’s too much of a spoiler to say that Alina will be journeying back to the valley of her birth. I guess I’ll also say that there are scenes at the end of the book that take place in some familiar locations and they were particularly painful and satisfying for me to write. How’s that for vague? 

 Learn more about Shadow and Bone and Siege and Storm.
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