Exclusive SDCC 2015 Interview with Marie Rutkoski

Here is our exclusive San Diego Comic-Con interview with Marie Rutkoski, author of The Winner’s Trilogy.  And although the video is exceptionally blurry (I obviously had not yet mastered the process of recording on my camera), you can appreciate what is being discussed here, which are her books!

The Fandom: What do you like about what you’ve seen here so far?
Marie Rutkoski: I liked the giant Totoro costume.  Somebody was walking around dressed in a big, puffy Totoro, and I love Miyazaki, and I love that particular movie. And later, that person who was wearing the costume came into the panel that I was doing, but he had taken the costume off.  He was just kind of lugging this costume of Totoro after him. So, that might be my favorite thing so far.

16069030TF: Yeah, the cosplaying here is ridiculous (and I meant that in a good way) sometimes.  Really good!  So, we do have some questions about the book.  Kestrel and Arin flip flop between the roles of the oppressed and the oppressor.  Would one of them be a better leader, or is there no decent power dynamic between the two of them?
MR: I think there is a possibility for a decent power dynamic between the two of them.  I think that one of the things that I hoped to express within the first book is that Kestrel and Arin are really perfect for each other. They are each other’s equals in almost every conceivable way.  They’re intellectual equals. They have the same kind of passion for music. However, they live in a society that has made them unequal. And it’s not their fault.  It’s not something that they themselves did. They nonetheless have to live with the ramifications of it. One of the things that I always told myself when writing the series is that they cannot actually be together in a happy way unless they’re equal. So, I do think there’s a possibility of equality between the two of them, but society plays a part for that possibility to be realized.
In terms of whether one would be a better leader, I think that Arin would be a better leader. Because he, at least in the way I’ve written him, he has a natural charisma, and I think people look to him in a way they don’t necessarily look to Kestrel. But Kestrel would be the more canny policitian. The two of them together would make a great combination. But Kestrel would be the one who would- she’s sort of like a more benevolent version of the emperor, who’s incredibly smart and very- he plays a lot of political games and he always wins.  And Kestrel is a little bit like a nicer version of him that’s also lesser experienced.  But she has that capacity to be really cunning. So, if you wanted somebody in charge of your country, you would probably want it to be her. Arin is the sort of person you would follow into war.

20443207TF: What societies were the biggest inspirations for the cultures in the book?
MR: In the ancient world, before Rome plundered Greece, the Romans looked at the Greeks as being culturally superior. They were more artistic, they were more philosophical, they produced wonderful art and literature. And the Romans felt a little bit uncouth, right? They felt that they couldn’t measure up culturally to the Greeks. On the other hand, the Greeks [sic] (I believe she meant Romans) proved themselves to be militarily superior. And they had a gift that the Greeks did not have, and they eventually conquered Greece, and enslaved the Greeks. So, I was really interested in the way in which- the Greeks had thought of the Romans as being uncultured, the lower class. And so, I was just really interested in this dynamic where a group of people considered to be culturally superior, who were refined, were suddenly at the bottom of the social ladder. So, that was a big influence. In the second book, you also see the East. I mean, that country is an invented world, but it’s influenced by some aspects of middle eastern and also- I think of North Africa as probably pretty influential.  Basically, where Africa- like Morocco, Algeria, places like that.  I was thinking of the architecture. I don’t think there’s really a huge inspiration.  The East was mostly invented.

TF: Both Kestrel and Arin head up the.
MR: No. I’m not really a good secret keeper. I would probably tell that person.

TF: It says here you are an expert at killer cliffhangers. What are some of your favorite cliffhangers from books you’ve read.
MR: Well, I love the end of The Kiss of Deception by Mary Pearson. And also the second because of the killer cliffhanger, too.  One of my favorite books is Sunshine by Robin McKinley.  And she never meant for there to be a sequel, but I feel like that book ends in a bit of a cliffhanger. I just, I really want to know more! It’s a very painful ending to me. I think some television shows, like the end of season one of Battlestar Galactica, is really hard.

TF: Since you’re at Comic-Con, if you were to dress up, cosplay, what would it be?
MR: Well, some people have suggested that I could be Claire Randall from Outlander. And I do like her costumes. So, I think I could do that, but only if I had access to it.  You’d need a bustle, a corset.  I don’t really have all that, but it would be fun to try.

About The Winner’s Curse (book one of The Winner’s Trilogy):

As a general’s daughter in a vast empire that revels in war and enslaves those it conquers, seventeen-year-old Kestrel has two choices: she can join the military or get married. But Kestrel has other intentions.

One day, she is startled to find a kindred spirit in a young slave up for auction. Arin’s eyes seem to defy everything and everyone. Following her instinct, Kestrel buys him—with unexpected consequences. It’s not long before she has to hide her growing love for Arin.

But he, too, has a secret, and Kestrel quickly learns that the price she paid for a fellow human is much higher than she ever could have imagined.

Set in a richly imagined new world, The Winner’s Curse by Marie Rutkoski is a story of deadly games where everything is at stake, and the gamble is whether you will keep your head or lose your heart.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.