Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Interview: Jay Kristoff, Amie Kaufman + ILLUMINAE

Today I have the pleasure of welcoming authors Jay Kristoff and Amie Kaufman to the blog to answer a few questions about their highly anticipated new release (it comes out today!!!), Illuminae. The format of this book, essentially a dossier of various documents, has me more than a little intrigued so I can't wait to dive in and see what's illuminated by these files (see what I did there? Illuminated? Yes? No? No. I need a vacation.). I hope you guys enjoy the interview more than my failed attempt at cleverness ;-)

The format of Illuminae is complex and unique. What was the most challenging part of telling a story through so many individual documents? 

We thought the greatest challenge would be convincing our publisher to design hundreds of pages of documents, including company logos, computer interfaces, spaceship blueprints, the ramblings of a mad artificial intelligence, comic strips and movie posters. But it turned out they were even more insane than we were, and thought it was a great idea. In fact, the greatest challenge was probably picking exactly the right document for each moment, to make sure we told the story the best way possible. There’s a difference in the information conveyed and the mood and pacing created by a press release vs a journal entry vs an IM conversation. We wanted to make sure each document did exactly the right job—but we wanted to make sure they didn’t prop the story up. It had to stand on its own. Ultimately, we didn’t want the format to be a gimmick, we wanted it to be integral to the way the story was told, but we also wanted to make sure our plot, pacing and characterisation was spot-on.

If you were to compile pieces of your life and work into a digital dossier that Kady and Ezra will hack into hundreds of years into the future, what in that file do you think they’d find most interesting?

Hmmm. It’s hard not to mentally replace the word ‘interesting’ with ‘incriminating’. Because that’s the sort of stuff Kady and Ezra would want to dig up. The reality is that they’d mostly find ideas scrawled on scraps of paper and long email chains where we talk our way in circles about the most ridiculous things. As for what they’d find most interesting… for Amie, it would be be the stuff to do with the golf course sign incident, and for Jay, it would be the stuff to do with a particular gig his band played at a particular place. We’re not sharing any more than that. You want to know, you’ll have to start hacking!

If you could spend a week in the world of any sci-fi movie, TV show or book, what world(s) would top your list?

Firefly. Fiiiiiiiiirefly. If they won’t give us a season 2, we’ll make our own gorram season 2. Let’s move on, we’re becoming emotional.

Let’s say that tomorrow Earth has to be evacuated. What are three things you’d make sure you didn’t leave without (aside from friends and family)?
We would like to state for the record (and any family members reading this) that the question does specify family are safe. We’re assuming pets come under that heading. So basically, we’re down to stuff that we can’t live without. We’re going to choose a case of excellent bourbon (because Jay considers it required for basic existence, and if he dies in the evacuation, Amie can trade it for helpful stuff), a crate of chocolate (exactly the same reason, except switch our positions) and a bookshelf stuffed to the gills with as many books as we can fit on it. We’re assuming we can mug someone for a computer to write on (we’re on a spaceship after all, if we’re evacuating the planet, they’ll have computers) so we’re focusing on booze, chocolate and books.

If Kady and Ezra were to stumble across a document that hinted at what’s to come in this trilogy, what are a few of the words they might find in its content?

Oooh, tricky. Here are a few words that are going to matter a lot in the coming books… Heimdall, Operation Plainview, journal, dust, spider, corsage and tattoo. We’d love to tell you what they mean, but it’s way more fun to watch you find out!

Thanks so much for taking the time to answer my questions Jay and Amie!

• • • • • • • • • • • • • •


This morning, Kady thought breaking up with Ezra was the hardest thing she’d have to do.

This afternoon, her planet was invaded.

The year is 2575, and two rival megacorporations are at war over a planet that’s little more than an ice-covered speck at the edge of the universe. Too bad nobody thought to warn the people living on it. With enemy fire raining down on them, Kady and Ezra—who are barely even talking to each other—are forced to fight their way onto an evacuating fleet, with an enemy warship in hot pursuit.

But their problems are just getting started. A deadly plague has broken out and is mutating, with terrifying results; the fleet's AI, which should be protecting them, may actually be their enemy; and nobody in charge will say what’s really going on. As Kady hacks into a tangled web of data to find the truth, it's clear only one person can help her bring it all to light: the ex-boyfriend she swore she'd never speak to again.

Told through a fascinating dossier of hacked documents—including emails, schematics, military files, IMs, medical reports, interviews, and more—Illuminae is the first book in a heart-stopping, high-octane trilogy about lives interrupted, the price of truth, and the courage of everyday heroes.

• • • • • • • • • • • • • • •


Find Amie:

Find Jay:


  1. I hear great things about this one and I confess that I'm quite curious.thanks for the little interview!

  2. I love the format of this book, its so different to the many books that I read, but it works pretty well soon. I did start this one a while back, but got distracted by so many other things, I really need to get back to it soon. Thanks for sharing a great post with us Jenny! :)

  3. What an amazing interview, Jenny! I loved your questions!! Amie is my girl, crateful of chocolate for the win!!
    And those clues... tattoo? corsage?? AAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!

  4. Ha incriminating, I love it! You ask the best questions if your interviews Jenny, I love reading them!
    This is one I so need to add to my pile.

  5. Haha! These two are hilarious, Jenny! I think I think have regained a little love for these two because OMG I was ready to go see them after I finished Illuminae and ask them why they like to torture readers.
    I was worried about the format, but I ended up really enjoying it. It made for a different experience for sure.
    Lovely interview, Jenny!

  6. Wonderful & fun interview - love the questions you hit Jay and Amie with!! I like the bourbon & chocolate idea as well ;) I'm so excited to pick up a hard copy of this with such a unique format for reading to explore.
    Thanks for the great post, Jenny :)

  7. What fun as usual! I have this coming up soon on my TBR! Can't wait!!!

  8. I have absolutely zero clue of what this book is about, but I actually like it that way. It's a mystery of itself and I don't really have any expectations for it. I just know that many people have loved it. Really excited to read it.

  9. I loved this book, and I love both of these guys. This book was amazing. LOVED IT.

  10. I'd so wanna visit firefly too :D

  11. i thought the format alone is unique refreshing and fascinating, cant wait to read it

  12. I totally loved this book ..it was unique and held me captive. I loved the different formats used to deliver the tale.

  13. I can't even tell how much I regret skipping this ARC. I for sure have it on my wishlist now and hope to read it soon.

  14. Mr. Kristoff looks like a bit like Dave Grohl. :D \m/ I'll be picking up a copy of this book tomorrow. Looking forward to seeing the creative format!

  15. Thanks for the fantastic review, they sound like a hilarious pair and I approve of their love for Firefly! I can't wait to get started on this book, I really love stories told in epistolary format!

    Aentee at Read at Midnight

  16. Cool interview! I like the fact that although they were thinking it might be hard to get such a novel published, it was more so difficult to know which kind of form to use when. I would imagine that could've been difficult!