Leigh Bardugo Leaves Lasting Impact on Prep Community


Photo courtesy vanityfair.com

Leigh Bardugo at one of her book signings.

If you have ever entered the Young Adult section of your local bookstore, Leigh Bardugo’s name and her bestselling and award-winning Grisha trilogy, Six of Crows duology, and newest King of Scars book, should be familiar to you. Luckily enough, this past March 7th, the Library Advisory Council invited Leigh Bardugo to the Studenmund Family Reading Room to hold a discussion regarding her literary creations and life story. Before she entered at approximately 1:20pm, the lower level of the Chandramohan Library, decked with decorations and colorfully designed fan art by Hannah Murphy ‘20, students, faculty, and even Bardugo’s family sat in a semicircle of chairs facing a seating arrangement for Bardugo. When Bardugo sat down with her eager audience members, the author opened up to the mediators of the event, the Library Advisory Council members including Ryan Huntley ‘19, Lauren Ginn ‘21, and Maya Khurana ‘20. After the discussion started with questions and topic points from the council members, the floor was opened up to spectators. Questions from little details in her books to her life before she sold millions of copies led to touching and humorous responses from the renowned writer. The discussion dove deep into her life, inspirations, and upcoming projects as a writer, leaving the Flintridge Prep students and faculty transfixed and positively influenced.

Questions varied, and each answer resulted in a new revelation about Bardugo. She discussed the setting of Russia in the Grisha trilogy, her education at Yale, how to overcome writer’s block, and what it’s like to create an anti-hero. One sentimental topic she touched upon was how the death of her father led her to quit her day job, but opened a door for her to work in the makeup industry. Through her change in professions, her makeup job did not require her to write during the day resulting her to have motivation to write at night. One question that sparked an interesting response asked what was Bardugo’s inspiration for her first novel. She described staying at a getaway house, and when her friends went out, she stayed in to read a book but fell asleep. When she woke up in the pitch black room, she searched the house for any possible “serial killers” as she was uncomfortable by herself. After realizing there were no prying eyes, she started to ask herself questions: “If the dark was a place, what would it be like? Why would someone enter this place?” She ventured down a black hole of questions that produced her first publication, Shadow and Bone, the first among her trilogy.

Viewers laughed at her jokes regarding how she loves to write, but her salary doesn’t hurt, how she doesn’t look for her books in airports anymore because she doesn’t want to be disappointed if it isn’t on the shelves at LAX, and that she used to read fan theories, but has since stopped. The audience was also thrilled to hear about the upcoming Netflix adaptation of the Six of Crows duology that Bardugo has quite a bit of influence over leaving the guests to hope that the TV series may actually live up to the glory of her fantasy novels. Ultimately, the students and members of the discussion definitely walked away with a smile and maybe even a changed perception about reading, writing, and the difficulty of being an author.

The responses from students and faculty display the impact of Bardugo’s words. As a student and the 2019-2020 Commissioner General of Student Senate, Maya Khurana ‘20, shared her views on the event, “I appreciated the frankness of her words, which made her relatable to the audience and served as inspiration for the aspiring writers who had come to hear her speak. It was an amazing experience!”

Maddi Huie ‘22 also expressed her enjoyment of Bardugo’s visit when she said, “I enjoyed hearing her talk about writer’s block because it’s something that I often struggle with, and it was comforting to hear about a professional writer struggle with the same things I do.”

Both of the statements addressed a specific part of the meeting that left a lasting impact on them. However, the room was filled with other teachers and book-loving students that may have also enjoyed her presence, relatability when it comes to the difficulty of high school, or descriptive answers that capitaved the room’s attention.

Entering the mind of Leigh Bardugo beyond her best sellers is a rare opportunity for her readers, especially at this time. With Bardugo’s upcoming tour for her newest novel, King of Scars, and because of the screenwriters at Netflix asking for her input during meetings, she won’t always be available for private meetings like the one held this past March at Prep. However, this hopefully won’t be the end of author signings and discussions.

The event wouldn’t have been possible without the organization from the Library Advisory Council members and supervisors. The students and faculty that also came to listen to hear the advice Bardugo imposed made the author’s discussion even more memorable and easily talked about between classmates. The Prep community can only hope to hear from Bardugo and other Young Adult authors again who will be just as memorable as this one.