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Leigh Bardugo calls Netflix’s 'Shadow and Bone' an experiment in 'trust' and 'chaos'

Bardugo told fans at NYCC about the “game of trust” that comes with adapting fantasy stories for the screen.

Shadow and Bone | Kaz, Inej, Jesper

By Juliana Montana

When Netflix approached author Leigh Bardugo with the idea to turn her fantasy books into a streaming series, she was met with two paths: “Make Shadow and Bone and hope that you get the runway to make Six of Crows or you can crash these two vehicles into each other and see what chaos ensues.”

Thankfully for fans of the show’s soaring first season, she chose chaos and created an entirely new “alternate timeline” that combined the events of her books into one entirely new story. At a panel Saturday at New York Comic Con attended by SYFY WIRE, Leigh Bardugo told fans about the “game of trust” that comes with adapting fantasy stories for the screen and the inspiration behind the Grishaverse.

“Writing fantasy is about politics but it can also simply be about getting to live in a world where being brave and strong and clever and capable is more important than, say, being cute and popular,” she said. Escaping into genre gives fantasy fans “an edge on everybody else” and an uncanny ability to “see possibilities where no one else sees it.” Viewing the world through a fantastical lens means “the call box is always bigger on the inside, that's how we live!”

Ironically, the Grishaverse didn’t grow out of what Leigh Bardugo could see, but what she could not. “I was at a friend's house and I was reading a book … I fell asleep while I was reading it and when I woke up the house was completely dark like you can’t see your hand in front of your face, and I was sure there was a murderer in the house,” she said.

Luckily for her, all she had to do to escape that fear was to flick on a light switch. But what would happen if “darkness was a place? What if the monsters you imagined were real and you had to fight them in their own territory.”  Netflix asked one more question: What if we took that world of darkness and put it on screen?  

“The dream of the show for me was not just to see these beautiful people embody these characters,” Bardugo added, “it also means your story reaches new people.” 

And reach people it did! After its release, Shadow and Bone spent its first 12 days as the most watched show on Netflix and its renewal for a second season shows just how much the streamer took notice. Thanking fans for the continued support, Bardugo said that having the growing fandom to lean on is “all as writers we can hope for.”

Click here for all of SYFY WIRE's continuing coverage of New York Comic Con 2022. 

Looking for some fantasy content? Click here for our list of the best fantasy films available on Peacock.

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