What Shadow and Bone Creator Leigh Bardugo Is Obsessed With Right Now

Image: Jen Castle Photography

Leigh Bardugo is one of the biggest names working in YA at the moment—a profile only elevated by the adaptation of her Grishaverse series into the popular Netflix show Shadow and Bone, which was just renewed for a second season. Set in a magical universe influenced by Tsarist Russia, the series follows a young woman named Alina who discovers she’s a type of incredibly powerful magic worker called a Sun Summoner. Adventure awaits; the show has already birthed one million smoking-hot GIFs of Ben Barnes as General Kirigan, who is bad but also very, very hot.

Jezebel is launching a new biweekly series, the Jezebel Questionnaire, in which authors answer a series of questions about their lives, their tastes, and their favorite things. Bardugo is our first guest; she talks about what she’s streaming now and her perfect place to be alone, which might surprise you.

What is the ultimate book for you? What’s the book that imprinted on you? 

I think “Fleur,” a short story by Louise Erdrich changed the way I thought about fiction. It was my first exposure to magical realism and the first time I’d read a story of sexual assault that made me feel stronger as a survivor.

What’s one thing that you’re obsessed with right now?

I just moved into a tiny schoolhouse that was built in 1918. It’s small and strange and needs a lot of work, but I’m really enjoying the challenge of bringing it back to life because it’s the first place I’ve lived that’s actually mine.

What darling did you have to kill? 

My editor made me cut down on a lot of descriptions of food in Ninth House. And I initially wanted part of Rule of Wolves to be epistolary. But I don’t have to commit much murder because I tend to write very lean first drafts that get longer on revision. If I really love something, I don’t just cut it, I repurpose it.

If you could read a novel by any celebrity or famous person, who would it be and why?

I’d love for someone to completely surprise me. Like if Sir Patrick Stewart came out with a bio that we all expected to be droll observations about the acting life and it turned out to be 42% swearing and punchbowls full of cocaine. But I’ve read roughly a thousand interviews with Stevie Nicks so if she ever wanted to write it all down, I’d be first in line at her signing.

One of Dorothy Parker’s famous quotes is about a book that “should not be tossed aside lightly… but thrown with great force.” What’s the last book you threw across the room? What made you do it?

The Wicked King by Holly Black. It is so perfectly plotted, it made me feel utterly hopeless. If I didn’t love Holly I would have to hate her.

What’s the perfect place to be alone? 

In the woods, listening to the rain find its way through the branches to the ground. Or I guess in line at the DMV.

What are you binging/streaming right now and why? 

The two best things I binged during quarantine were The Great and Watchmen. And I just watched a wonderful documentary called The Rise and Fall of Penn Station. I cried at the end. Apparently I have a lot of feelings about architecture.

Senior Editor at Jezebel, specializing in books, royals, romance novels, houses, history, and the stories we tell about domesticity and femininity. Resident Windsor expert.



Gods help the poor unfortunate who has to try to align Nicks’ thoughts into some sort of cohesive/coherent product. At the very least, LaNicks’ penchant for embellishing the truth has long been grudgingly accepted by the Chiffonheads. There will never be enough grains of salt when it comes to her. Her reported use of at least 4 abortions as her birth-control method-of-choice is a whole ‘nother story. Vox 1992 interview:

Was there a common thread among her men? “They are all very smart and very loving, and they all had a difficult time with my life and the way that I live it and how busy I am.” For four lovers, a crucial test came when she became pregnant and opted for terminations. “It’s always been a tragedy. But they understood.” But they didn’t really. “Eventually, their hearts couldn’t take it, they couldn’t understand quite enough, how deeply embedded in this I was. And so it eventually hurt them too much and they had to leave, or face devastation on their own.”