31 Days of Authors: The Iron King by Julie Kagawa (a 2011 Teens’ Top Ten winner)

Teen Read Week was October 16th through the 22nd, but here at The Hub, we’re celebrating all month long with 31 Days of Authors. On each day in October, we’ll bring you exclusive author interviews and profiles plus reflections on what YALSA-recognized books have meant to us. Today we feature Julie Kagawa, whose book The Iron King is #5 on this year’s Teens’ Top Ten list.

Julie Kagawa’s Iron Fey series has already received numerous accolades, and it’s no wonder that the first book in the series, The Iron King, made it into the Top 5 of this year’s Teens’ Top Ten! We bring to you an exclusive interview with Julie on the honor of this award, her love of gaming, Hollywood, and more.

CM: Congratulations on The Iron King making it on YALSA’s Teens’ Top Ten for 2011! What does placing in the Top 5 mean to you?

JK: For me, it’s awesome because this is an award that the teens themselves voted for. Not a panel of experts or book critics, but the audience I wanted to write for all along. To have them vote The Iron King into the Top 5 is an honor I can’t begin to express. Thank you!

CM: For those unfamiliar with or reluctant to read books of the faery genre, what would you say to them to encourage them to read The Iron King?

JK: Well, it features a cool, creepy new breed of faery, the Iron Fey, which are the fey born from mankind’s dreams of technology and progress. They are the antithesis to the normal faeries, and their presence is slowly corrupting the Nevernever, which is the crux of the problem in the book. But it also has sword fights and scary fey and a talking cat, and action and romance and the characters from A Midsummer Night’s Dream. But mostly, it’s about a normal girl thrown into extraordinary circumstances, finding the courage to face her destiny and save everything she loves. Oh, and there’s also a sexy, brooding Winter prince. ;-)

CM: I love that you include a music playlist to accompany The Iron King on your website. How much does music serve an inspiration for you as a writer? Do you listen to music as you write?

JK: I do listen to music quite a lot when I write, especially if I need to feel a particular emotion for a scene. My playlist is long and eccentric, but several of my favorites are Within Temptation, My Chemical Romance, Breaking Benjamin, and Josh Groban. I also listen to a lot of anime themes, musicals, and video game music.

CM: You identify strongly as a gamer. What do you see as the ties between gaming, reading, and writing? In particular, fantasy writing? How does one inform the other?

JK: I’m not ashamed to say it; much of my inspiration comes from video games and anime. I believe video games are just another way of telling a story, and the player can identify with the characters in a game just as strongly as those in a book. The gaming generation is not a bunch of vegetables staring blankly at a screen, pressing buttons. Stories are being told, morals are being presented, and the characters must make many choices within the context of the game. And in games like Assassin’s Creed, the Final Fantasy series, Dragon Age, Mass Effect, even Gears of War, the player follows the characters through their stories just like they would in a novel. Sure, there are violent, bloody, and over the top games, but not all games are like that, just like not all books are like that. Some of them are heart-achingly beautiful, touching, heroic, and will make you cry… and that is my rant on video games. *Gets off soapbox.*

CM: If you could cast Meghan, Ash, and Puck in a movie version of The Iron King, who would you cast?

JK: Oh goodness, I’m so bad at this, lol! The only one I know for sure is Ash, whom I’ll get to in a second. As for Meg and Puck… maybe Molly Quinn for Meghan and Zac Effron for Puck? (I told you I’m bad at this.) And Ash, well there’s only one Ash for me, and that is Ben Barnes.

— Cristina Mitra, still reading Almost Perfect by Brian Katcher