The Happy Writer with Marissa Meyer

Writing Heists and Avoiding Info-Dumps with Kayvion Lewis - Thieves' Gambit

September 25, 2023 Marissa Meyer Season 2023 Episode 171
The Happy Writer with Marissa Meyer
Writing Heists and Avoiding Info-Dumps with Kayvion Lewis - Thieves' Gambit
Show Notes Transcript

In this week’s episode, Marissa chats with Kayvion Lewis about her new YA heist thriller, THIEVES’ GAMBIT. Also discussed: books coming out of dreams, creating a cast of characters when being a plot-first type of writer, the importance of revision in layering characters and refining complicated details (heists!), letting the world around you influence the writing, no matter how random it may seem at first, the newly coined “Point and See” method, transitioning from one book to the next and how much to include to catch up readers without adding info-dumps, the circle of inspiration from one generation to the next, and more!

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[00:10] Marissa: Hello, and welcome to the Happy Writer. This is a podcast that aims to bring readers more books to enjoy and to help authors find more joy in their writing. I am your host, Marissa Meyer. Thanks so much for joining me. A big thing is making me happy this week. I know lately it's been like a lot of moving into a new house and homeschooling my kids and those are always wonderful, beautiful things. But you might be more interested in the fact that I just sold another book. I'm so excited. It is one of those secret projects that I have been teasing for a while. I feel like I'm always teasing secret projects these days and it's tiny bit frustrating because I've added it up. And this makes now the 7th book that is under contract with my publisher yet has not been announced. So I've got seven things in the works that I can't really talk that much about, which is like a lot, I guess. I've really been on a roll lately. What can I tell you? I can tell you that this one that just sold it is my very first co writing project. So look forward to talking more about that. It is also my first foray into a new genre, so that's probably about all that I'm really allowed to say at this juncture. But they are hoping to release the book next fall so that's not so far away and hopefully I won't have to stay quiet on the details for very long. I'm really, really excited about this one and cannot wait to tell you all about it. I am also so happy to be talking to today's guest, a former youth services librarian and the author of The Hat Class, her newest novel, Thieves Gambit, currently in production to be a major motion picture with lionsgate. It hits bookshelves tomorrow. Please welcome KV and Lewis.

[02:15] Kayvion : Hi, thank you so much for having me. I am in love with talking about this book. Almost as in love with it as I am actually writing the book. And congratulations, by the way, on this new book that we can't learn about yet.

[02:30] Marissa: One of the weirdest things about this job, I feel like I want to talk about things so badly, but you always have to keep secrets until the publisher gives you the go ahead, which is like but I have things to tell people.

[02:44] Kayvion : It definitely increases your endurance for patients, I think, in this industry.

[02:50] Marissa: Well, thank you for the congratulations. And congratulations to you for your now second book coming out. By the time this runs, it will be there you'll be at launch day. How are you feeling?

[03:05] Kayvion : Completely. It feels so surreal. I wake up every day kind of convinced that I'm just stuck within like an Inception dream within a dream. Probably not helped by the fact that the idea for Thieves Gambit came to me in a dream. So I wake up and I'm like, wait, did I dream that? No, but I dreamt dreaming of the book. I'm just going to go with it until somebody wakes me up. And I haven't woken up yet in the last two years, so I'm just going with it.

[03:28] Marissa: I love it. I think it's safe to say that it's happening. Like, this is real life.

[03:33] Kayvion : Yeah. When they sent me my author copies last week and I was actually holding them, that's when it was starting to feel a little more real. I was like, okay, well, this is, like, tangible. I can prove this exists, I guess happening.

[03:45] Marissa: No, that's fair. The whole process up to there, you kind of always feel like the rug is about to get pulled out from underneath you. Like, really, though. Are we really going to publish this? Is this really happening?

[03:56] Kayvion : 100%. Also not helped by the fact that so much of publishing is done online and via email and Zoom meetings. And it got to the point where my mom was like, are you sure you're not being scammed? Have you met any of these publishers or producers in person?

[04:11] Marissa: And I was like, I'm pretty sure.

[04:12] Kayvion : I'm not being scammed, mama. You'll see when you see my books on the shelves in, like, two years.

[04:18] Marissa: I love that parents always looking out for us in their own way. Yeah, and I imagine, too, I mean, this book is getting a fair amount of buzz around it, too. And I know that with it being in production for a movie, all of that kind of adds to a surreal quality. So I think that also just kind of feels like, is this really happening? Is someone pulling my leg?

[04:42] Kayvion : Yeah, it definitely has an almost too good to be true element to it so far, but the second boot hasn't dropped yet for me.

[04:52] Marissa: Well, it is not too good to be true. The book is so fun. It is so meant for the film industry. It's made to be on the big screen. I cannot wait, and we'll talk more about that later. But for now, the first thing I'd like to talk to you about is I want to hear your origin story. How did you become a writer?

[05:16] Kayvion : So it kind of started out as a joke, which is like the definition of my life right now. It all started as a joke, either.

[05:24] Marissa: A dream or a joke.

[05:25] Kayvion : Eventually, yeah, one of those two. But about five years ago, I was working in a library downtown, and I had a friend who I was a coworker, and she became a good friend and we had this joke where I would say, one day, Bianca, I'm going to leave and you're never going to see me again. And it's going to be because I've gone around the world to have this globetrotting adventure and you're not even going to know where I am. And she would say, well, how are you going to pay for that? Are you going to pay for all your travel? And didn't have an answer for a little while. But one day I started saying back, well, I'm going to write over the top adventure books about my own adventures, and that's going to fund my real life adventures. And that was just the joke for months. And then one day I was sitting at home thinking about that, and I was like, what if it wasn't a joke? What if I actually did write a book about international adventures? And I opened up my laptop and I started typing, and five years later, I have a book about international adventuring teens that's coming out and has funded some real life adventures of mine. So somehow that joke turned into reality.

[06:29] Marissa: I love that. It's like your subconscious knew before you did. Here's what we actually want. Here is the goal.

[06:35] Kayvion : Exactly.

[06:39] Marissa: But you did have one book out before this one, didn't you?

[06:42] Kayvion : I did. That book was a young adult fantasy, had a couple of adventurous elements, but a different genre for sure. That was the third book that I had written. Thieves Gambit is actually the 10th book that I've ever written. Oh, wow.

[06:55] Marissa: You skipped a few steps then, in your origin story, right?

[06:59] Kayvion : Well, the origin story was how I first started writing, and that first book was like an adventure novel. And then I got sidetracked writing some Sci-Fi books and some fantasy books, and then I came back around for Thieves Gambit and was like, I really liked writing that adventure book that first time, ten books ago. Let me see if I want to do that again. And that really ended up hitting for me.

[07:23] Marissa: So are you saying that you wrote ten manuscripts in five years? Am I doing the timeline correctly?

[07:31] Kayvion : Yes, technically, at the time that I wrote Thieves Gambit, it was 2020, and I'd been writing for three years at that point. So ten manuscripts in three years. I still don't know how I did that. That is quite a lot. I really liked writing once I actually tried it, and I was not one of those people who wanted to be a writer when they were kids. So I'd never had tried writing before, but when I started, I was like, this is really fun. I want to do this in all of my free time. So I think that's how I ended up writing probably upwards of a million words in a relatively small amount of time.

[08:08] Marissa: I love that. I really appreciate it when people say that writing is actually really fun, because sometimes I feel like I'm the only person saying that. I'm like, but this is so fun.

[08:20] Kayvion : You get to create your own world, create your own characters, create your own friends, except, like, they can do whatever you want them to do. It's like being a little puppet master of your own world, which probably sounds a little psychotic, but that's how I think about it.

[08:36] Marissa: Well, I'm excited. And when you did work in a library, I have to assume that there was already a love of books and stories even before you delved into writing.

[08:46] Kayvion : Oh, most definitely. My first library job was as a youth services library. And so I was already being surrounded by kidlet and young adult and middle grade stories and just seeing firsthand how obsessive, but in a fun way that kids can get about books that they're really excited about and that they really love, and just seeing, not just outside of my own experience, just, oh, wow, kids really love books. And it's so cool to have such an impact on growing little people through stories. And at the time, I didn't realize that I maybe wanted to write these stories. I just thought, oh, it must be cool to be an author and have this kind of distant but so intimate relationship with these young minds. And when I came back around to my next library job after working in a special collections apartment with actually more like, older people who were looking through old newspapers all day, my next job after that was as a young adult librarian specifically. And at that time I did know that, oh, I think I want to be a writer, and I was writing Ya books, and so I kind of got to approach my job a little more strategically and being like, okay, well, what are young readers checking out today? And I would ask the teen readers like, oh, what did you like about this book? Were there any twists that you thought were a little unbelievable? What did you love? And sometimes take notes so I could use that for my own writing.

[10:06] Marissa: Yeah, that's such great just like one on one research.

[10:11] Kayvion : Oh, yeah. And they were paying me to do it, so I kind of like two for one win bonus.

[10:19] Marissa: And then I also want to kind of just backtrack a little bit because you mentioned that the idea for this book came in a dream, which is not I mean, I used to think that all book ideas came from dreams because my first book, Cinder, also came from a dream. And I know, like, Twilight started with a dream. And so there was a period of my life where I thought that was really normal. At this point, I've asked enough people or talked to enough authors about inspiration and ideas that I know that's not the case, that of course ideas come from everywhere. But anyway, so it's been a while since I heard someone say, this idea came in a dream. What was the dream?

[10:57] Kayvion : It was not even like a normal dream. It was like I was half asleep and within the dream, it was as if like a disembodied voice just kind of told me the elevator pitch for this book, which sounds ridiculous, they were like, It's a competition of thieves. And I woke up and I was like, where have I heard that before? I was convinced that somebody else had written this book just because of the way that I like, who dreams of elevator pitches. That doesn't make sense.

[11:24] Marissa: Thank you, brain.

[11:25] Kayvion : Yeah. I was like, okay, well, what book is this? I'm going to Google it and see if I can find it. And I spent, like, 30 minutes that morning googling like, thief competition book, thieving book, but not fantasy. And I couldn't find it. And then it clicked. I was like, oh, wait, this book actually doesn't exist. That means that I, Pavian Lewis, get to write this book. And, like, 30 minutes later, I was writing chapter one and really grateful for that dream and grateful that I didn't go back to sleep immediately after and forget about it.

[11:57] Marissa: That's a fear those wonderful ideas will float away. Don't go back to sleep. Write it down.

[12:04] Kayvion : I probably had, like, ten amazing ideas at least that have just been lost to me wanting to get ten more minutes of sleep.

[12:11] Marissa: I understand that there will be more. There will be more. Okay, well, that's a perfect segue. Now, to tell listeners, what exactly is Thieves Gambit about?

[12:23] Kayvion : So as somebody who's kind of like an adrenaline junkie and adventure seeker myself, thieves Gambit is, like, my personal take on the Heist novel. It is about nine teenage thieves from nine different countries who are all invited to compete in this international underground thieving competition that's going to crown the world's greatest thief. And the winner gets one wish from these uber powerful, uber shadowy people. And my main character, her mom has been kidnapped on a job. They come from a family of thieves, and she enters the Thieves Gambit, the competition to try and win back her mom's freedom from captivity and killing the competition is not exactly off the table in the rules of this international game. So things get a little tense with nine teenagers who really want to win this wish.

[13:10] Marissa: So I love Heist. I love heist books. I love heist movies. So as soon as I heard about this book, I immediately put out it on my podcast request list, and I loved it. It was so fun, so fast paced, just kind of hit on all those great tropes that we look for in a great Heist story. So for you, what drew you to Heist specifically?

[13:40] Kayvion : I think that there's a reason that everybody seems to love Heist and Thievery, because there's just something so intriguing about the criminal element of thieves in particular, because you have that, okay, they're working outside of the law, and they make their own rules, but also they're not so sinister like assassins in which they're doing something that's I feel a little bad about rooting for somebody who's murdering people. And there's also this huge found family element that you see in so many different high stories of, oh, these criminals, these thieves are coming together and they all have their own unique skills, but they all work together and they all become this big family who goes on jobs and they steal and things and do whatever they want together. And it's just this element of almost freedom that you see these thieves have in all these different heist media. And I think that's just the perfect type of escapism for people who have this adventure spirit and also want these friendships that are stronger than blood. So it's kind of about the thieving, like the actual technicalities with seeing how heists are done and how people or the characters plan out the different layers of how they're going to steal things. That's always an interesting element in heist media, but also just getting to see these unique kind of making their own rules types of people interact, that's just always been really interesting to me in all the different heist media that's out there.

[15:03] Marissa: Yeah, I mean, I think that the heist stories that definitely tend to stick with me longer are the ones that have just, like, the best cast of characters and the ones who are totally different backgrounds and personalities and skills. Like, you got to have the hacker and you got to have the physical dexterity acrobat one or whatever it is. And it's just so fun seeing them interact with each other.

[15:29] Kayvion : No, exactly. And those are some of the funnest scenes to write, I think. Like the downtime scenes in between the planning heist or in between the flipping through laser grids or high stakes car chases. Like the scenes in between where the characters are just being themselves and reflecting with each other and you can see their little quirks and things. I live for writing those scenes.

[15:54] Marissa: I love writing those scenes too, for you. How did you go about creating? Because we've got some really great secondary characters. We've got this group of teens who are invited to compete, and we don't get to know all of them super well, but there's definitely a core group of them that we really get to know their personalities and their quirks, and they're so fun. How did you go about developing this cast?

[16:19] Kayvion : So I actually have kind of an atypical method for developing my characters, at least from some of the conversations I've had with other writers where I hear them talk about doing character charts and how they focus a lot on thinking about their characters before they go into writing their drafts. For me, I'm definitely more of like a plot first writer or that's, like the first thing that comes to mind. When I'm writing a story. I think of, like, I imagine all the set pieces that I have and all my twists and things. And when I usually sit down to actually start drafting, I usually have no characters at all, no character names. I have no idea who's going to show up in this story. And I write and I create characters as I need them for the narrative. So by the time that I was actually starting the gambit component, the actual competition of these gambit, like, I had Ross quest because I needed a main character for chapter one. And she is just who kind of appeared on the page. But I got to the point in my outline where I was drafting and it was just, okay, Ross meets competitors. That was the note that I had for the chapter. And I had no description at all. I was like, well, who are the competitors? And I was like, well, let me just write. And I'd put myself in this situation where Ross is in a room and there are different doors and all the different characters will be coming out of different doors. And I was like, well, let me just see who comes out of these doors and people will just kind of appear. And as they appeared, I was like, well, how is this person different from the next person? How are they walking around? What does that say about them? So a lot of my character creation process is creating a character or they show up when I need them for the narrative, and then once they're there to fulfill their purpose, kind of letting them slowly blossom through the process of writing the draft itself, and then through the process of revision, adding, like, okay, well, these are the decisions that I needed this character to make for my narrative. What kind of person would make the decisions that I needed this character to make? Why would they make those decisions? Who did they know in their past? Who taught them how to do this thing? What's their backstory? So, definitely something that I had to work on over the process of many different drafts. And as I was writing, I did not know any of these characters when I was first going in. They all just kind of showed up and after that I let them grow.

[18:36] Marissa: Yeah. How much did the characters change from that first draft through revisions?

[18:42] Kayvion : I'd say quite a bit. Noellia in particular who is kind of Ross's arch nemesis. Former best friend turned arch nemesis definitely changed a lot from being like the typical sort of like oh, she's the mean girl competitor who's just constantly butting heads with Ross in draft one into the draft is being published now where they have quite a history with each other. And as I was asking myself questions, I was like, well, what kind of history do they have? And if they do have a history, if they did used to be best friends, how is that going to affect their relationship now? And how would that affect the way that they interact with each other? And now I think that she's a lot more layered and her relationship with Ross is a lot more layered. And that's also similar for a lot of different characters, like Tayo, who's a thief from Japan who I had no backstory for him when I was writing the first draft, but as I was going through, I was like, well, what's making him a little bit more standoffish or grumpy than some of the other characters? How does his backstory kind of I just I think a lot of the characters, as I go through the process, they get a lot more fleshed out, and as they get more fleshed out, sometimes their motivations change. It makes more sense. Once I know more about them, I'm like, well, they wouldn't actually do that. I think they would do this now that I know them a little bit better.

[19:58] Marissa: Tayo was one of my favorites. I'll just say I connected strongly with him.

[20:04] Kayvion : I love him. I love him so much, I had to bring him back for my sequel. Yeah.

[20:09] Marissa: Oh, good. No, he was like his approach to Thieving is how I think my approach to Thieving would be. Like, I'm just going to take a lot of notes to start with, right?

[20:19] Kayvion : Exactly. Yeah. Like, have a whole bookshelf of Thieving books.

[20:23] Marissa: Exactly. You want to learn how to do something, step one, get a book on it. Exactly.

[20:29] Kayvion : I love that.

[20:30] Marissa: Yeah. Okay, so you mentioned that you had this dream, and then half an hour later, you were writing chapter one, but then you also mentioned working off of an outline, so kind of what was your planning to pantsing process?

[20:49] Kayvion : Yeah, I'm definitely like a planter, so that in between being a panther and a planner, once I have an idea, writing chapter one is always, like, the first thing that I do just so I can get kind of like a feel for the story and also kind of I want to know, do I actually want to write this story? Because I feel like you have great ideas sometimes or ideas that you think you want to write, but then you actually sit down to write a chapter and it's impossible, or you just don't enjoy it, and that's totally okay. And then you just have to be like, okay, well, this isn't the story that I need to be writing right now. So I always write chapter one first, and after I have one chapter or maybe two, and I've kind of like, I understand. Okay, well, this is, like, the vibe. This is the world that I'm in. Then I sit down and I make a brief outline, and my outlines are incredibly bare boned. They're, like, maybe a page long, and it's really just like a bulleted list of me scribbling things that I think are going to happen between each chapter. Sometimes the bulleted notes aren't even that helpful. Like I said earlier, one of my notes was just, Ross meets competitors. And that doesn't really exactly help you when you're writing a whole chapter, but it kind of gives you a little bit of a roadmap to know where you're going. So sort of a planner, sort of a panther for the most part. As long as I kind of know where I'm going for the next chapter and I have something guiding me a little bit, I have no problem just taking it from there.

[22:20] Marissa: So what about when it actually comes to the heists? Because I know that heists in particular posed some unique challenges for a writer. So were you like outline heist one, steal the thing or did you break down the steps of the heist in advance?

[22:37] Kayvion : Oh, I most certainly did not. And I was really kicking myself when.

[22:43] Marissa: I did you regret that decision?

[22:48] Kayvion : They came together in the end, so I don't know if I regret it, but there were times where I would get to my outline and I would have, okay, well, I want to have a museum heist. That's all that I would know. And on the note it would just say, like, museum heist. And then it would say, twist happens, ross figures out clever way to get out of situation and clever escape. So I would have kind of like an idea or like an outline of what the heist would look like from a distance, but not the specifics. So I would know what the flows of the heist wanted to be or what the beach that I wanted to hit, but I had no idea what the specifics were. I definitely spent a lot of time when I was writing where I would get to where I would have to actually think, okay, well, what's the actual heist? And I would just be staring out a window thinking for like 2 hours. And that was just the process of that was how I did this. I would get to the point and then I would like, okay, what's going to happen? And then I would have to think about it for 2 hours. But I do also want to say that the heists themselves were something that came together a lot more also through the process of revision. The heist in the first draft were definitely a lot sloppier the first time around. But I would be like, that's fine because I'm going to go back. And once I get to the end of the book, I'll have thought about these heists for a month and I'll be thinking, okay, well, that would have been clever if I actually did this thing earlier. And so those were another thing similar to characters that they got more complex and more logical as I was going through the process of revision.

[24:28] Marissa: Yeah. What would you do when you got Ross into a really difficult situation? I have to assume that there were moments when you're like, well, now what's she going to do?

[24:42] Kayvion : I would try to think, well, I have some situations in the book that when I was drafting, I was like, this is a really ridiculous idea. But I would just go with the first idea that popped into my head, no matter how ridiculous it seemed. And I would kind of be like, okay, well, let me see if I can actually build up context clues before and make this make sense. For example, no spoilers, but there's a point in the book in which Ross gets out of a situation and it involves, like, a Nerf gun.

[25:16] Marissa: Where do I get a nerf gun?

[25:18] Kayvion : Exactly. But that was like an example where I was writing and I was at the park and I was like, well, how is she going to get out of this situation? And I was like, Well, I want to keep writing and I want to keep going. So let me look around and see what's the first thing I see? Oh, look at those kids over there have a Nerf gun. I'm just going to make a Nerf gun. The answer. And I was like, well, you can make anything work as long as you set it up in a way earlier and it didn't just come out of nowhere. And also, I think pulling random inspiration from you in the world around you also kind of breeds a certain sort of creativity that you wouldn't get. Sometimes when you sit down and you overthink things, you come up with the most obvious answer. And so I think it's okay to go around and look around you, pick out things that maybe on the surface wouldn't make sense and then make it make sense, if that makes sense.

[26:14] Marissa: Yeah. No, I know a lot of writing prompts kind of draw on that same sort of idea. Like, go to pick a random book off your shelf and open it up and the first word you see, include it in your next scene, like things like that, to just kind of start sparking things that you maybe wouldn't have thought of otherwise.

[26:32] Kayvion : Exactly. I'm sure there's a technical word for that method.

[26:36] Marissa: I think there is, actually. I feel like I should know that because I know I've heard of it before.

[26:42] Kayvion : The point and see method.

[26:43] Marissa: Just take it. I love that, though I do think that there's something to be said for just taking in inspiration from whatever you've got around you, whatever you're working with at that point in time.

[26:57] Kayvion : Exactly. And your surroundings are constantly changing, too, so you never know what you're going to see.

[27:03] Marissa: So there's a lot of action sequences. It's a very fast paced, high adventure, high excitement book. Do you have any tricks for how you get into the mindset? Do you listen to a special playlist or anything or watch Oceans Eleven in the background? What's your method?

[27:25] Kayvion : Well, I am always in favor of listening to the movie score that gets you the most pumped up. I have a whole playlist of movie scores like the Back to the Future score and the Mummy score and. If that inspires you and gets you in the mood to write these scenes, definitely do it. Personally, I think about adventures and these types of situations all day, every day. It's probably unhealthy how often I'm daydreaming about these situations. So these types of things are always in the forefront of my mind, personally. But also if you are the type of person who maybe you don't think about, like, SWAT teams coming down from your ceiling like I do every now and then. A great trick that I've used a couple of times before I can't remember where I initially heard it, where you're trying to come up with something like a scene that's really maybe unique that you haven't thought of before. That's really bombastic is you think about where you want to go with a scene and making kind of like a chart in which you write down the first thing that comes to mind. Like, okay, how could the scene unfold? What's the first thing that comes to mind? What's the second thing that comes to mind? And then you just write down all the ideas that come into your head. And then once you get down to idea maybe eight or nine for where this scene or this sequence could go, usually by then you're going borderline ridiculous with the ideas that come out. But those are usually the best ones, I think.

[28:52] Marissa: Yeah. No, it definitely clears away the cliches.

[28:56] Kayvion : Exactly. And then that's when the things you're really thinking or you didn't even realize you were thinking could happen, comes out.

[29:03] Marissa: Yeah. Do you know your twists in advance?

[29:09] Kayvion : No, I do not. Maybe I'm not a planner at all, because I really don't know anything in advance, do I?

[29:17] Marissa: Dig in here?

[29:19] Kayvion : That's just another scenario of situation in which I'm working on a project and I'll get to the end and I'll be thinking, well, wouldn't it be crazy if this thing happened? Or you're working on a revision or the third or fourth draft of your book, and you're at a point where you're almost you've been working on it so much, and it doesn't feel like a book that you've written. At some point because you've just read it so many times and it feels like a book that you've just read a bunch of times. And once I think you get to that point in which you can kind of become like a reader of your own book in a certain sense. When I read other authors books, a lot of the times I'm like, oh, well, it would have been cool if this other thing happened. Or I wonder what would have happened if this plot twist happened instead. And if you can get to that kind of point with your own book, that's when I would be reading. And I would be like, wow, wouldn't it be cool if the author did this instead and this twist happened? Or Wouldn't it be weird if this character was actually the villain. And then I'll realize, oh, wait, I am the author. I should do that instead.

[30:19] Marissa: Puppeteer. Exactly. But then once you decide, oh, wow, this thing would be really surprising and readers wouldn't see this coming. But then for me, a lot of times I'll have that idea and I'll know instinctively this is the best thing for the book. This is going to be surprising. It's different. Hopefully readers will gasp and be like, wow, I didn't see that coming. But at the same time, then I know I've just now made more work for myself because I have to go back and add in little hints, but in a way that readers won't pick up. It gets complicated having these twists. Did you ever want to fight back and be like, no, what I've got is fine.

[31:05] Kayvion : And I totally relate to that sentiment, but I usually almost have a hissy fit with myself for maybe like a day at most, where I'm like, oh, that would have been a great twist. But I don't want to rewrite the first act in my book to set this up. And I'll spend maybe a day trying not to think about it, but thinking about it, saying, oh, it's fine, it's totally fine. But I think when it's a really good twist and you know it's going to make your book stronger and at the end of the day, as an author, you want your book to be like the strongest version of itself possible, then I'll usually come back around after a day and be like, gosh darn it.

[31:40] Marissa: Yeah.

[31:41] Kayvion : To do this, here we go. But it's like you have to. And you can feel it when you have a really good idea, a really good twist, even if it's going to require a total overhaul of your book, but you can just feel it and you can imagine. But this book is going to be so good after I've done this thing. You have to.

[32:02] Marissa: Yeah. No, it really is. It does become irresistible, even if you know that you've just added a ton of work to your plate. Once you have that idea, it's impossible to turn away from.

[32:15] Kayvion : You know, you'll always regret it more if you don't do.

[32:18] Marissa: Absolutely. Absolutely. So this is clearly not the end of Ross's story. Are we looking at a duology, a trilogy?

[32:28] Kayvion : We are looking at a duology. G. I'm working on book two now. I think Penguin just had launch yesterday as we're recording this. So we are on slate for Book Two, coming out in fall of 2024. Some of our favorite characters, or some of my favorite characters are coming back. Ross and Devereaux and Noelia and Tayo. And I don't want to say anything else without spoilers, but we've got more fun thief drama, more family drama, more competition antics, and more bombastic set pieces.

[33:02] Marissa: I love it. No, you've definitely set it up for a lot of drama. In book two. I'm curious, and I'm trying to think if I can ask this, if it's a way in a way that doesn't spoil too much. So book one, Thieves Gambit, takes place in a fairly short amount of time. We've got a very quick timeline, and I don't know if it's one week or two weeks, but mom gets kidnapped, enter the competition. Here we go. And it just has fell very quick for book two. And I obviously haven't read it. I could be wrong about this, but you are hinting that we've got a much longer timeline in book two. And if that's the case, I'm wondering if that was a challenge for you to go from a really condensed timeline to a much longer timeline.

[33:51] Kayvion : We'll say that book two opens kind of, like about six months from the end of book one. The end of book one.

[34:00] Marissa: That's a long way to do it.

[34:01] Kayvion : Yeah, because the end of book one does hint at this. There's a significant amount of time that some of these characters are going to be involved with each other. But even being able to kind of skip a good amount of time does present its own challenges in a sense that you have to think about, okay, well, what have these characters been doing in the meantime? And how will their relationships have changed or developed? But also if they have changed or developed within these six months, you have to think, well, I can't just cheat as an author and be like, well, now these characters who were friends are enemies, and now these characters who are enemies are friends. Because as an author, I think that that would be kind of like cheating the reader who might have wanted to see how those situations change. So that is its own thing to juggle. I have to be realistic about how things would have changed, but I can't do all the change off page.

[34:54] Marissa: Yeah, no, because then you also run into that moment of, like, you need to catch up the reader, but you don't want it to be super expositiony.

[35:04] Kayvion : Oh, yeah, that too. But I was hoping or the idea is to like, oh, well, if I just do a really good job of give an example of how these characters are interacting with each other now, then that will hopefully fill in the blanks of how their interactions have been in the last six months or so. Or that's the idea, at least.

[35:26] Marissa: You're like, it's not out yet, but this is the goal.

[35:28] Kayvion : Yeah, we're still working on it, but that's the plan.

[35:31] Marissa: Yeah, no, I mean, for me, figuring out how to convey information in a way that doesn't come across as just like those annoying info dumps, that's one of the ongoing challenges of every book.

[35:42] Kayvion : Oh, constantly, yeah. And I think that's still a problem that plagues all of my first drafts. Like, this whole chapter is just the synopsis rewrite this.

[35:54] Marissa: Oh, hugely. No, the book. I just finished a draft of something here last week, I think, and it totally has. Like, that the villain speech at the end that goes on and on. I know this isn't going to work in the final, but just let me have it for now.

[36:13] Kayvion : Controversial opinion, but I love villain monologues. I think villains should be allowed to monologue and heroes should just deal with it.

[36:23] Marissa: Well, maybe I'll leave it in just for you.

[36:25] Kayvion : Yeah, make me a special edition with monologue.

[36:30] Marissa: All right, before we move on to our bonus round, I just have one last question. Tell us what is going on with the potential movie adaptation?

[36:41] Kayvion : Yes, we sold movie rights last June, about a month after we sold to Penguin, our literary rights. And I am so over the moon to be working with Lionsgate and also Temple Hill Entertainment, who is the producers of some of the biggest Ya franchises ever, twilight and The Hate You Give. And Lionsgate is the distributor of the Hunger Games and Divergent. And I think it's just so surreal to me to be working with the creators of some of the Ya franchises that I was going to the movies to see when I was like twelve and 13. And now I feel like I'm a part of this big circle of media where they were inspiring me and I didn't know it then, but these pieces of media were inspiring me and now I'm going to be inspiring someone else. And how did I get wrapped up in this? It's so weird and was the last thing that I ever expected to happen. But I'm overwhelmingly grateful that there's been so much interest in adapting this book already.

[37:46] Marissa: Yeah, no, that's such a cool way.

[37:48] Kayvion : To think about it.

[37:49] Marissa: Just the ongoing circle of inspiration and one generation of books and writers leads to the next. And it's such a special thing to be a part of.

[38:01] Kayvion : Oh, so special. I can't wait to see hopefully that there'll be like, maybe a little young black girl author who in 20 years will be like, I remember seeing Thieves Gambit way back in 2023, and I'll be like, oh, wow, the circle goes on.

[38:17] Marissa: I 100% think that that moment is going to happen. I can totally see that.

[38:23] Kayvion : Can't wait.

[38:25] Marissa: Okay. Are you for our bonus round?

[38:28] Kayvion : Yes. Let's do it.

[38:30] Marissa: What book makes you happy?

[38:33] Kayvion : So My Best Friend's Exorcism by Grady Hendrix was a book that I read last year, and I think within the time that I read it until now, another book hasn't quite hit me as hard or set me on the fields as much as that book. It was so good to read a book that was kind of about the power of friendship and that's actually kind of the answer for the whole book. And just so many books focus on romance and romantic relationships, especially books that center on teenagers. But it just warmed my heart so much as somebody who has so much put so much stock into her relationship with her friends. Like my friends are everything to read a book that's just about teenage girls, one, trying to save her best friend and it just made me smile and cry and feel all the fuels reading it. And everybody should pick up this book. Everybody who has a best friend.

[39:25] Marissa: I love it. I don't think I've even heard of it, but you totally make me want to go check it out.

[39:30] Kayvion : Definitely should. The COVID is designed like a 1980s VHS cover. Won't be able to miss it if you're looking for it.

[39:41] Marissa: What are you working on next? And if the answer is book two, what can you tell us about it?

[39:47] Kayvion : So I am working on book two right now. Well, I'm constantly working on at least like two or three projects at the same time because I have no focus at all.

[39:56] Marissa: I have that problem as well.

[39:58] Kayvion : I can tell miss. I have seven undercover books that I can't talk about.

[40:02] Marissa: Can't stop what is happening.

[40:05] Kayvion : But thieves. Gambit two. The current title is Heist Royale, which I could talk about it now since they launched it the other day.

[40:12] Marissa: What a cool title.

[40:14] Kayvion : Thank you. I will say that there is one major casino set piece their heist going on, which is kind of why Heist Royale. Kind of an homage to Casino Royale. Lots of my favorite characters are coming back. There is going to be another sort of competition element, but even grander and with higher stakes than the last gambit in the previous book. I'm looking forward to hopefully wrapping up all of the betrayals and friendships and rivalries that were formed in book one. Hopefully all really satisfyingly and also going to lots more international locations that I really just want an excuse for my film team to have to go film so they can take with them. Absolutely.

[40:57] Marissa: Oh my gosh. That's like the best reason for setting something somewhere else that I've ever heard.

[41:03] Kayvion : Exactly. Yeah. That's really the only reason that these characters go to all these places because I want my film team to take me there.

[41:10] Marissa: Lastly, where can people find you?

[41:14] Kayvion : You can find me on X at KVN Lewis and on Instagram at Kvnc lewis and also my website kvnlewis.com. I have a contact form there. You can shoot me messages anytime.

[41:28] Marissa: Awesome KV. And thank you so much for joining me today.

[41:31] Kayvion : Thank you so much for having me. This was so much fun.

[41:34] Marissa: Readers definitely check out Thieves' Gambit before it hits theaters. Of course, we encourage you to support your local indie bookstore if you can. If you don't have a local indie, you can check out our affiliate store@bookshop.org slash shop slash MARISSAMEYER. And don't forget to check out our merchandise which is available on Etsy, Instagram and T Public. Next week I will be chatting with Kristen Simmons about her Jumanji meets Japanese mythology horror novel. Find him where you left him dead. If you're enjoying these conversations, please subscribe and follow us on Instagram at Marissa Meyer, author and at Happy Writer podcast. Until next time, stay inspired, keep writing, and whatever life throws at you today. I do hope that now you're feeling a little bit happier.