Last week, I reviewed this unique and amazing book Stormdancer and today, I have Jay Kristoff here on the Blog with a great post about his unique world building..  And and don’t run.. we have a giveaway for you at the end…

The Unique World of Stormdancer

by Jay Kristoff

The first thing I should point out is the STORMDANCER isn’t actually set in Japan. While I’m riffing heavily off some cultural touchstones, parts of the Shinto religion, parts of Japanese custom and language, if you go into STORMDANCER thinking you’re in for an alternate history, you’re gonna have an aneurism. There weren’t many griffins running around Japan in the 19th century, afaik. Nor many folks there who could speak telepathically to animals either. :D

That said, the setting of Stormdancer, the Shima Imperium, is absolutely inspired by Japan. I wanted to avoid Victorian England as a cultural touchstone. It’s been done as a steampunk setting, and done well by some very talented authors(Colonial America too, tbh). But the world in the 19th century was a fascinating place, and there were dozens of amazing cultures nobody had really played around with in the steampunk/fantasy genre. I couldn’t see a reason why steampunk had to be limited to top hats and frock coats and cup o’ tea, guv’nor.


I decided to build a steampunk world based on a culture nobody had really tackled yet – Shogunate Japan. I mean, chainsaw katanas, how can you go wrong? So the Shima Imperium is based on the Tokugawa Shogunate of the 19th century – the great samurai age of Japan – kinda like George RR Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire is based on medieval England and the wars of the roses. Shima is a nation that’s been thrust into the industrial age by the advent of combustion-based technology, but the advancements have come so rapidly, it hasn’t had the chance to throw off the chains of feudalism. So you have a traditional Shōgunate government supported by a samurai caste of warriors, but you also have sky-ships and heavy rail and power armor. The technology and fuel production is controlled by a group called the Lotus Guild, who swathe their engineering exploits in a kind of pseudo-religious mysticism. The problem is (there always has to be a problem) the production of the fuel that drives these technological marvels is polluting the sky and killing the earth, and the people of Shima are too addicted to the luxury and power it brings to stop themselves. Essentially, the whole setting is a high speed collision between traditional Japanese-inspired fantasy and a lumbering engine of grimy steampunk goodness.


Visually, I was inspired by some incredible artists like James Ng, Keith Thompson and Jason Chan (who I was lucky enough to get illustrating my cover – yessssss). I took cues from some of the amazing steampunk creators out there like Datamancer, pictures of strip mines or amazon deforestation, or a photo of a bird dying in an oil spill. Huge lumbering machines like earthmovers and bulldozers, alongside the beautiful weaponry and armor of ancient Japan. I’ve always been a visual person – I have a degree in graphic design, and I spent hours trawling the interwebs looking for imagery I could poach and pervert and make my own.


My inspiration for the story is really all around us. The world we live in and our hopeless dependence on fossil fuels. And I don’t want to make it sound like I’m some tree-hugging eco-terrorist with an agenda – first and foremost, I wanted to write an adventure story with characters people would fall in love with. But the environmental subtext is there if you want to look hard enough. If not, that’s all good, you can just enjoy the griffins and chainsaw katana fights. J At its heart, STORMDANCER is a book about an unlikely friendship between two even more unlikely characters – a girl with the ability to speak telepathically to animals in a country where animal life is virtually extinct, and the last griffin left alive in the entire country. I wanted to write an epic adventure, full of battles and betrayals and chainsaw katana fights, with a kick-ass heroine who didn’t need to choose a boy by which to define herself. But more than that, I wanted to write a book with heart; a book about a friendship that bloomed despite all obstacles. A bond that would grow to become a thing of legend in this nation on the edge of ruin – a friendship that challenged the might of an empire.



That was such an amazing and fascinating post!! Thank you so much Jay, and I agree this setting is definitely unique and I believe I haven’t seen it before. You pointed it out beautifully “ At its heart, STORMDANCER is a book about an unlikely friendship between two even more unlikely characters - yes I love this and it was my favorite part in Stormdancer!

About Jay Kristoff

Find Jay: website | Blog (must read!!) | twitter | Facebook

Jay Kristoff grew up in the most isolated capital city on earth and fled at his earliest convenience, although he’s been known to trek back for weddings of the particularly nice and funerals of the particularly wealthy. He spent most of his formative years locked in his bedroom with piles of books, or gathered around dimly-lit tables rolling polyhedral dice. Being the holder of an Arts degree, he has no education to speak of.

Jay’s debut novel, STORMDANCER, a Japanese-inspired steampunk fantasy, will be published by Thomas Dunne/St Martin’s Press, Tor UK & PanMacMillan in September 2012 as the first installment of THE LOTUS WAR trilogy.

Jay is 6’7 and h

as approximately 13870 days to live. He abides in Melbourne with his secret agent kung-fu assassin wife, and the world’s laziest Jack Russell.

He does not believe in happy endings.


This last note about the Happy endings actually has me worried about the outcome of Stormdancer, let’s hope an editor is there to tell me people hate horrible endings… 


and here is the … uhm… Book Trailer(?) which is totally freakign awesome and I laughed my a** off. Truly.. watch it!

He even wrote a post about the trailer and called it .. The Anti Trailer.

This man is pure awesomeness! Full of spark and fun! and .. he did a Vlog, which bascially is the most freaking funniest Vlog ever! Seriously.. watch it!

And now..

Thanks to St. Martins and Thomas Dunne Books I have one copy of Stormdancer for you to win.

US/Can only.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Much Love,

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Obsessive Reader by Night - Scientist at Day! You can also find me on goodreads. I'd love to get to know you so, don't be shy and say Hello!
Michelle L. 9/7/2012

Awesome post! I would love to hear you talk more about the environmental aspect of your book. Loved the trailer (anti trailer?)

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Tina 9/7/2012

What a cool guest post! Ive seen this book around and never thought about reading it cause yes I prejudged the cover thinking it might be a graphic novel……but it has ninjas…so now I must read it!!
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Katelyn 9/7/2012

I’ve been waiting forever for this book!! Great guest post!

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Stephanie W. 9/7/2012

Great guest pots – so cool! I can’t wait to read this book!! It sounds really interesting and bad ass!! Thanks for the giveaway!
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Danielle Nguyen 9/7/2012

Ahhhh I want this book so bad! It sounds like the best thing ever. And the trailer made me lol. Thanks for the chance to win!

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Jenny 9/7/2012

The illustration on this cover is absolutely stunning, I’m definitely going to go and check out more of Jason’s work! I wish I had illustration skills, but sadly they’re lacking. I’m so excited for this book I’ve heard nothing but good things about it, and any story that features a griffin is a story I want to read:)

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Jessie 9/7/2012

I keep seeing this book on people TBR/wishlist. The cover is so pretty.
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ahahaha I love the trailer they made up for this book. It’s great. Really fun guest post, I had my issues with this one, but the love for it is astounding. SO many people are fangirling over Stormdancer! Thanks for sharing this great post!
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Heidi 9/7/2012

Terrific interview. So agree about the fossil fuels! I have heard the world building in this is atonishing, I can’t wait to start this. I have it scheduled for next week!
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Julie Rupert 9/7/2012

This book sounds amazing!! Would love a chance to read it. Thanks for the giveaway.

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nrlymrtl 9/7/2012

Love the book trailer – made me snortlaugh.

Eagerly watching Amazon for when this book becomes available in US. Will there be an audio version?
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Victoria Zumbrum 9/7/2012

Hi Jay. Thanks for the awesome giveaway. I can’t wait to read your book.

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Candace 9/7/2012

I LOVED this book! I liked that it was so different from anything else. The Japanese inspired bits were pretty awesome and I think worked amazingly well. And I really liked the environmental issues in the book because I spend plenty of time thinking about the downfall of our environment and having a reminder won’t hurt anyone. And if you choose to be blind to our own issues then I guess you can cause it’s just a story. But for me I found it to be a good reminder.
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Christina T 9/7/2012

I know you hear this alot but I love that cover it’s gorgeous and that trailer is epic!! I can’t wait for the release of Stormdancer with all the reviews and blog post announcing it and commenting on how great your book, these last few weeks of waiting for the book birthday is agonizing! It’s cool how you have woven environmental issues into the story and taken inspiration from Japan and the Era of Warring States (Shogunates).

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sandyg265 9/7/2012

This is a new book to me

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Carl 9/7/2012

Hi Jay and congratulations on the massive success of Stormdancer so far. Best wishes for even better things in the future.

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Vivien 9/7/2012

I’m so bloody eager to read this book!!!! I have been diving into the Asian culture more and more. This sounds utterly fascinating.

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kimbacaffeinate 9/7/2012

Awesome post, i love the cover but really dismissed it thinking it wasn’t for me, but after hearing you talk about it, I am adding it to my list. Thanks Jay!
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Natalia Belikov 9/7/2012

Iread your reivew the other day and I was already totally excited about this novel. Now with this post you just enhanced my excitment!!
wonderful stop sweetheart! <333 thanks for sharing! the world of this novel sounds totally mind blowing. Need to get!! kyaaaa!

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Sarena T 9/7/2012

Such an intriguing book! This is definitely going on my to-read list!

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Angie 9/7/2012

Just saying, I loved the book trailer of Stormdancer!!

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Jaime Lester 9/7/2012

Best. Book trailer. EVER. Best ever, no doubt about it. I dare someone to try and outdo it. Can’t happen. Impossible. Stormdancer just made it to the very top of my TBRNow list. Don’t get me wrong, it was already there, but it was #6. Now, it is #1. It has been steadily climbing because of interviews with Jay. I think I have an author crush for the first time. Completely unstalkerish, I assure you. Anyway, moving on. It would be amazing to win this book, and thank you so very much for the chance. Either way, win or buy, I will have this book soon.

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alicia marie 9/7/2012

Hi Jay! Thanks for the awesome guest post. Also, best trailer ever : ) Can’t wait to read Stormdancer!!

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Sandra 9/8/2012

Hi Jay!

I’m excited about this book. THe cover is lovely!

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hrose2931 9/8/2012

That was a great post! I love knowing what the writer was thinking about, his intentions, mindset when he/she was writing the book. I have my ARC of Stormdancer and plan to dig in tomorrow. Can’t wait! I love to follow Jay’s blog. He’s very funny!

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Bookish in a Box 9/8/2012

I LOVE the idea of using Japan as a setting for a steampunk novel. It automatically adds a cultural touch that can’t be had in an industrialized England.

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Len D. 9/8/2012

Hi Jay! I’m so excited for Stormdancer!
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Samantha D 9/9/2012

Hello! :D I cant wait to read Stormdancer!
Have you ever taking a creative writing class?

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Jenn 9/9/2012

Your book trailer is one of the most awesome things I’ve seen in a while!

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Grace Lo 9/9/2012

I’ve heard too many great things about Stormdancer to count! Absolutely cannot wait to read it!
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Olivia 9/9/2012

I’ve been wanting to read this one for SO LONG. It sounds amazing!

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M. Kay 9/10/2012

This was an awesome guest post! I’ve been waiting on this book forever. The cover is what first drew me in, but one of my friends read the book and she really like it, and well…that sealed the deal for me.

The trailer also gave me a good laugh. It was unique and funny. I loved it.

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OMG that was the most hilarious trailer ever. :D
Now I want to read this one even more.

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Loie 9/11/2012

Love love love the inspiration for this book! I cannot wait to get my hands on one! Go Jay :)

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Inky 9/11/2012

CAN NOT WAIT! This book looks Crazy amazing!!! Rock on Jay and Danny! Great tour! Thanks for the giveaway to!

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Samantha Coville 9/11/2012

Awesome tour!

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Viki S. 9/11/2012

Thank you so much for the tour. I love them :)!

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Zara Alexis 9/13/2012

Congratulations Jay on your publication! I’ve been entering contests to win this book for a while! :P I love the cover and look forward to reading a copy soon! Crossing my fingers!
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Tessa 9/13/2012

I’ve heard a lot of hype about this book. It looks very different from things I’ve read before. I’d be interested in giving it a try.

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andrew 9/17/2012

i realllly want to read this

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Hamna M 9/18/2012

Definitely on my to-read list!

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Nuzaifa 9/19/2012

The cover is totally kick-ass!
Looking forward to read it. :)

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Allie Rose 9/20/2012

I love how unique Stormdancer sounds. Shogunate Japan mixed with fantasy and steampunk, sounds awesome!

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