Author Leigh Bardugo Comes to Mississippi on Book Tour


Laura Renfroe

Best selling author Leigh Bardugo visited Oxford February 1 for a book signing, captivating the fans with her individuality and charm.

Laura Renfroe, Staff Writer

Quaint, compact Oxford, MS, never really expected best selling author Leigh Bardugo to set foot in the historic downtown to meet fans and discuss her latest novel on her countrywide King of Scars book tour.

Bardugo, an American young adult fantasy author, has written massive best-sellers such as her Six of Crows duology and Shadow and Bone trilogy, which has sold over two million copies, been translated into 22 languages, and published in over 50 countries.

She has been nominated for Goodreads Choice Awards Best Young Adult Fantasy & Science Fiction and published Wonder Woman: Warbringer and future adult novel Ninth House as well as her action-packed Grishaverse novels.

Clad in typical goth-like black fashion, Leigh Bardugo surprised Mississippians by bringing her wondrous and lusciously dark Grishaverse world and ecstatic personality to easygoing Oxford on February 1 at The Edison, a small work office decorated with book-inspired art and neutral green-brown furnishing, perfect for the cordial, relaxing ambiance of the event.

Bardugo enthusiastically interacted with the devout fans during the signing.

Bardugo presented a Q&A discussion for 30 minutes, moving on to sign novels for eager attendees, as well as graciously accept gifts and art from creative fans.

The gathering offered Grisha merchandise, such as pins and clothing, as well as fun photoshoots for guests, allowing all the bookish enthusiasts to connect as they waited in anticipation for the beloved author to take the stage.

“I loved being surrounded by people who are as passionate about books as I am. The energy was electric,” librarian Eles Renfroe said. “What made the signing special was being able to watch the excitement in my girls’ eyes. I’m grateful that I got to share this special moment with them.”

Square Books Jr. in Oxford hosted the event with employee Sami Thomason in charge, bringing Bardugo to the town for the first time in 7 years for a book signing. In order to take part in the event, fans had to purchase a King of Scars copy from the colorful bookstore.

For Thomason as well as many who attended the meet and greet, it was a very special and exciting experience.

“We were so fortunate to host Leigh in such a small town. Usually, for huge authors like Leigh, the publishers tend to send them to big cities and venues. They took a chance on us because of our event proposal and everything ended up working out. I think it’s really important for big authors to visit smaller towns because it’s a more intimate event and you really get a chance to get to know your audience,” explained Sami Thomason.

Loyal fans from varying areas packed into the small space to listen to Bardugo speak on her newest highly anticipated release, King of Scars, some wearing creative cosplay to showcase their love for the books, ranging from toy-knife-wielding infants to older-aged enthusiasts.

“Leigh writes such genuine and amazing characters that I already feel like [they] are my friends,” Thomason said at the event.  “Having the person who created Nikolai and Alina and Inej and Kaz here is the greatest thing in the world.”

Throughout the Q&A, Bardugo maintained a bright and witty aura, expressing her clever humour to the fans and sharing laughs with them, making the event all the more touching. She covered topics from her intense and somewhat sloppy writing process to her inspiring message about including diversity in her novels.

“I think that ‘diversity’ and ‘inclusion’ have become these words or ways for people to pat themselves on the back,” Bardugo said. “I think what’s important to remember is that we’re not doing this to be do-gooders. Stories are better when they’re diverse.”

Answering questions ranging from favorite childhood books to possible cameos in the Netflix adaptation of Bardugo’s books coming in the future, Bardugo kept the fans captivated with her comical and charismatic personality.

“My dream is to just walk on stage and die horribly. But I’m sure I’ll end up as something like ‘Partygoer Number 32’ or something,” Bardugo joked when asked about a cameo.

“One thing that stood out to me would be her personality. She was so funny and joked around about her writings and everyone’s questions,” attendee and PHS senior Katie Bayliss said. “She made the whole experience so much fun!”

Bardugo elaborated on her new adult novel and discussed her hardest scene to write and favorite point of view in her Grisha saga along with a wide array of other fan questions, all the while keeping them entertained and awed by her humility and socialness.

“I think that she’s not like meeting other authors in the sense that she can encapsulate her audience at the drop of a hat,” said senior Hannah Whitney.

“It was very easy to see who she is as a person whenever she starts speaking. She seemed friendly and down to earth as opposed to being a regular author,” Whitney stated.

Bardugo, easily discernible with her wavy blonde locks and dark attire, is well known for her heart-racing and multi-layered heist books along with her somewhat loony personality, and getting to meet her in person was a truly sensational opportunity for me and many others.

“I was surprised at her personality. I did not know much about Bardugo, but judging from her books I was not expecting her to be as funny and laid back,” student Jordan White said. “I thought she would have been a little more serious; however, I loved how outgoing, hilarious, and overall welcoming she was. I also loved how she puts pieces of herself into her character. For instance, she has a cane in real life and one of her main characters [also] has a cane.”

“She truly loves her audience and connects with them. Overall, I loved meeting Bardugo,” White concluded.

The event closed with high spirits all around, attendees itching to begin reading Bardugo’s King of Scars. The event workers provided crown-shaped cookies frosted with the clever phrase “feed your demons,” as well as a thoughtful hand-written note from Bardugo.

Oxford hopes to bring Bardugo back with future novels as well as encourage other big names to take the delightful town into consideration for book tours. Leigh Bardugo created a very heart-warming and lasting impact on the town and fans.

“For me, it was really a dream come true because Leigh is my favorite author and I can’t believe we actually got a chance to host her,” Thomason said.

Bardugo remains considerately grateful for all the support she has received on her book tour, journeying to bookstores from New York to California, and hopes to continue publishing novels so long as fans hang around.

“I got hit by such a wave of gratitude and how-did-we-get-here emotion…The travel gets intense and I find myself stealing any chance to rest between events, but I want to say thank you for the kind reviews and tweets and posts, for coming out to events to talk about Nikolai and Zoya and Nina, for all the ways you’re funny and generous and creative,” Bardugo wrote to fans on her social platform.

“It’s so scary to put a new book out into the world, but you’ve really made it magical,” Bardugo finished.