Today, I have the honour of hosting the incredibly talented and unicorn-like K.A Reynolds, author of my favourite 2018 debut, a strange, dark and whimsical middle grade fantasy called THE LAND OF YESTERDAY. If you haven’t yet heard of this beautiful book, here’s the description from Goodreads:
A tender and fantastical adventure story perfect for fans of CORALINE.
After Cecelia Dahl’s little brother, Celadon, dies tragically, his soul goes where all souls go: the Land of Yesterday—and Cecelia is left behind in a fractured world without him.
Her beloved house’s spirit is crumbling beyond repair, her father is imprisoned by sorrow, and worst of all, her grief-stricken mother abandons the land of the living to follow Celadon into Yesterday.
It’s up to Cecelia to put her family back together, even if that means venturing into the dark and forbidden Land of Yesterday on her own. But as Cecilia braves a hot-air balloon commanded by two gnomes, a sea of daisies, and the Planet of Nightmares, it’s clear that even if she finds her family, she might not be able to save them.
And if she’s not careful, she might just become a lost soul herself, trapped forever in Yesterday.
Doesn’t that sound AMAZING? I mean, I’ve read it, so I can 100% assure you that it IS amazing! But don’t just take my word for it. THE LAND OF YESTERDAY has been blurbed by TWO New York Times bestselling authors―Laini Taylor and Roshani Chokshi. Here’s what they have to say about this gorgeous book:
“From its first words, The Land of Yesterday has the pure crystal ring of a classic, like The Little Prince or The Phantom Tollbooth—beautiful, unique, and shimmering with truth. It’s a balm for grief, and a bursting fantastical joy of a story.” (Laini Taylor, New York Times bestselling author of Strange the Dreamer)
“Told with riveting language, this is a poignant tale that will resonate with readers of all ages and leave them reeling from such an emotional, gorgeous story.” (Roshani Chokshi, New York Times bestselling author of Aru Shah and the End of Time)
Are you sold yet? Because you should be! Okay, so now that you know all about Kristin’s stunning book (and you know you can pre-order it here) let’s get this interview started! (Kristin is also running a pre-order giveaway, and she's got some lovely prizes up for grabs! You can find out more about that here!)
Hayley: All the characters in THE LAND OF YESTERDAY have absolutely wonderful names! How did you go about choosing them? Was it a long process, or did they come naturally to you?
Kristin: Aww, thank you! Like the drafting process, names swirl out of the ether and whisper into my ear like magic. Sometimes I hear wrong, however. For example, my main character Cecelia wasn’t Cecelia at first, but Cicely! It was only after typing Cicely consistently wrong as Cecelia that I realised, “Hmm, I think her name is Cecelia!”
Hayley: That is so fascinating! If you could either travel by hot air balloon or by hippogriff for rest of your life, which would you choose?
Kristin: Okay, this should be a no-contest question in favor of 100% hippogriff. BUT . . . practical me is screaming, “THINK OF THE BOOKS!” Not much reading and napping and snacking on cheese and tiny cakes could occur on the back of a hippogriff, so I think I’m sticking with hot air balloon, preferably Dröm Ballong #19, if you please.
Hayley: Wise choice! We've spoken before about how your books are very driven by colour―how do you choose what "colour" a book is?
Kristin: While writing, the characters and their world bloom inexplicably onto the dark canvas of my brain in full colour. Then I write down what I see. Cecelia appeared to me with blue hair. Her father, Aubergine, came to me in an aubergine suit, her mother’s name is Mazarine, like her eyes, etc. The tiny gods of the otherworld who deliver these stories to me are much smarter than I am. They see instinctually that colors help to convey emotions, character arcs, and the tone of the entire book on subconscious levels in ways words alone cannot reach.
Hayley: Ah, that's so interesting! I always find it so fascinating how some elements of writing are totally subconscious, and others are so deliberate. It's such a mysterious process. You're a poet, too! What's your favourite poem?
Kristin: Oh, now THAT is a loaded question! How long have we got? Days? Eternities? No? Well, in that case I’ll have to settle for one my favourite poems by one of my three favorite poets/prophets: Jalāl ad-Dīn Muhammad Rūmī. This poem embodies so much of me it’s hard to tell where one ends and the other begins. . . .
Who Says Words with My Mouth?
All day I think about it, then at night I say it.
Where did I come from, and what am I supposed to be doing?
I have no idea.
My soul is from elsewhere, I'm sure of that,
and I intend to end up there.
This drunkenness began in some other tavern.
When I get back around to that place,
I'll be completely sober. Meanwhile,
I'm like a bird from another continent, sitting in this aviary.
The day is coming when I fly off,
but who is it now in my ear who hears my voice?
Who says words with my mouth?
Who looks out with my eyes? What is the soul?
I cannot stop asking.
If I could taste one sip of an answer,
I could break out of this prison for drunks.
I didn't come here of my own accord, and I can't leave that way.
Whoever brought me here will have to take me home.
This poetry, I never know what I'm going to say.
I don't plan it.
When I'm outside the saying of it,
I get very quiet and rarely speak at all.
Hayley: I love Rumi, too! His poems are so profound. I 100% approve of this choice! :P Your books always feature strange, quirky houses that have personality. What does home mean to you?
Kristin: Home is my all-time favorite word. Has been since I lost my first one at six, and the next seventeen after that first. I’ve not had the greatest luck holding onto homes, as you can tell! They get ripped away by death or disaster, monster or fire. I’m uprooted, and then, I move on. But each means something to me. The walls hold whispered midnight secrets. Laughter. Tears. Screams. Even after I leave, a ghost of myself remains. And that always feels sad, for myself, and for the house. Homes are the silent, forgotten members of the family—there for every triumph and sorrow, almost always overlooked. We leave them when they get old and decrepit, walk away when we are forced or find something new. So maybe the personified homes I write into my books now are a way to honour those fallen houses that kept me safe and warm through the years, because they’ve always felt like friends to me. They are where I hang my heart at each stage of my life. The foundation where I live and love and laugh until it’s time to move on.
Hayley: That is so beautiful! You're going to make me cry! *wipes eyes* Okay, if you could give Cecelia Dahl one piece of advice, what would it be?
Kristin: ☹ “Don’t be so quick to hate your little brother. He just wants you to love him back.”
Hayley: Excellent advice. <3 You get to time travel and have coffee with yourself. Which "you" do you choose to chat to?
Kristin: Great question! I would go back to myself at 22, when I was homeless and travelling alone in another country and didn’t think very much of myself. I would order my younger self a nice blonde ale downtown though, because the coffee at the local coffee shop (Icky’s Teahouse in Eugene, OR) by the school bus I was crashing in, was seriously as thick as tar, and oh my gods, the things I would say! We would laugh to tears and get into trouble, too I bet. Haha.
Hayley: I would love to be a fly on the wall for that conversation! <3 If you could get a language for your birthday like Karou from DAUGHTER OF SMOKE AND BONE by Laini Taylor, which one would you choose?
Kristin: French! Being born and raised in Canada meant I took French until high school, but I’ve forgotten most of it and was never very good at it anyway. But it’s such a beautiful language and I have big plans for France. 😊
Hayley: France is on my bucket list, too. We could go together someday. <3 You get to have a fantasy dinner party: ten guests, dead or alive―who do you invite?
Kristin: My mother and grandmother, Jesus, Buddha, Rumi, Hafiz, Rimbaud, Shakespeare, G. I. Gurdjieff . . . and Travis Fimmel in full Ragnar Lodbrok costume because I AM OBSESSED OKAY. *fans self*
Hayley: Hahaha! *googles Travis Fimmel* OHHHH OKAY, I see what you mean! :P Lastly, do you prefer drafting or revising?
Kristin: Once upon a time it was drafting. But, ha, not anymore! Revising forever!!!
Thank you so much to Kristin for stopping by my little blog to chat all things THE LAND OF YESTERDAY! I highly recommend you pre-order THE LAND OF YESTERDAY. It is simply divine.
Pre-order it here.