Julie Kagawa: From the Fey to the Vamps

Julie Kagawa is the bestselling author of the Iron Fey series, about an epic magical war between the three worlds of Faery—and the half-human, half-faery girl who will determine all their fates.

Now Julie’s back with The Immortal Rules, the first book in her Blood of Eden series (which you can start reading on Figment). And she’s moved on to bloodier, more vicious creatures . . . who she plans on keeping bloody and vicious, thankyouverymuch.

How does Julie manage to write across the paranormal spectrum so convincingly? Read on to find out!

People often ask me if it was difficult to switch from writing about faeries to writing about vampires. While it wasn’t exactly hard, it was very different, as these are two very different creatures with very different flavors, if you will. In the Faery world of the Nevernever, the setting and characters were almost surreal—or that’s how I tried to portray it. In building the Nevernever, I had this mental image of a vibrant, dreamlike place where everything was bright and vivid, but with something slightly off about it. I wanted the Nevernever to be a place where you weren’t sure if you were dreaming or not; it was a haunting, dangerous place, and its inhabitants were just as beautiful and deadly.

When creating the denizens of Faery, I tried to remain true to the old tales, in which the “Good Neighbors” were not happy, glittery sprites, but creatures who stole children and sickened livestock and lured mortals away into the forest, never to be seen again. These are not the fairies of children’s books and Disney tales. These are the faeries of Shakespeare’s ballads: Oberon, Titania, Mab, and Puck. Powerful, eternal, and as fickle as the weather. They care little for human life, because they are not human. They are ancient, alien beings with no concept of right or wrong, no conscience to govern their actions. Faeries were feared in ancient times, for good reason. I wanted to bring back a little of that fear, wonder, and surrealism.

And then, we have vampires.

Even more than faerie tales, the vampire myth has changed tremendously in these modern times. Where vampires used to be terrible, night-walking monsters—creatures you would never want to meet in a dark alley—they are now tortured souls who hate what they are and drink animal blood so they don’t have to prey on humans. They can walk in the sunlight, eat normal food, and blend perfectly into human society. They are sexy and romantic and beautiful, and would do anything to protect the human females they inevitably fall in love with.

There’s nothing wrong with this type of vampire. It just wasn’t the creature I wanted to write about.

I wanted my vamps to be monsters. The vampires of old, much like the faeries of old, were feared and respected—creatures that people took seriously. A creature that would rip your throat out before it ever kissed you. These vampires may remember their human life, they may even feel human emotion at times, but they are predators, and the hunger for human blood overpowers everything else. Their world is dark, filled with blood and violence, and that was my inspiration when I created the post-apocalyptic setting of The Immortal Rules. It was very different from writing the dreamlike world of the Nevernever; this was the real world, where everything had to make sense. There was no magic or glamour here; this world was bleak and stark and desolate, a perfect fit for the vampires who ruled as monsters.

So, there you have it. Two very different settings and two very different otherworldly creatures. And just like the characters of any given series, the places these creatures inhabit had to be as vibrant and alive as their populations or risk feeling flat and shallow, underdeveloped. Setting, in fact, is the biggest character in a novel. And writing it with its own traits and flaws will make the world seem real and larger than life, which is exactly the kind of place you want your characters to live.

One thought on “Julie Kagawa: From the Fey to the Vamps

  1. Ah! So excited for The Immortal Rules. I’m really upset with myself for not reading it yet.
    Julie, you definitely succeeded in making the Nevernever beautiful and magical and dreamy and still off-kilter and creepy. It was amazing, and I can’t wait to revisit in August!

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