‘Shadow and Bone’ Author Leigh Bardugo Says Strike Will Deliver ‘Better Programming’ and ‘Better Shows’ as She Pickets Netflix (Video)

“People need to be able to build a life,” the writer tells TheWrap of the guild’s ongoing negotiations with studios

Author Leigh Bardugo, whose “Shadow and Bone” series was adapted into a young adult Netflix drama series, organized a day of action and “Grishaverse March” at the WGA picket lines in front of Netflix’s Los Angeles headquarters Tuesday.

After coordinating with writers on the show, Shelley Meals and Christina Strain, the author set up camp outside the Sunset Bronson Studios on Sunset, across the street from two of Netflix’s main buildings. Bardugo signed books for fans, spoke to them individually and posed for photos before taking time to speak with TheWrap, video of which you can watch above.

“I hope that [fans are] seeing and feeling the community that surrounds people who love stories. I wasn’t sure if people would come, so seeing people show up and support our writers and support this cause, I just feel like I have an extraordinary group of readers out there and you can see that they wear their hearts on their sleeve,” Bardugo told TheWrap. “Storytellers are where it starts. I see the barrier to entry to this business getting higher and higher, and I think if we don’t make sure that people can make a living, and see a future for themselves in this work, we’re gonna end up with a bunch of dilettantes. We’re just going to have people whose parents can afford to pay for them to live in L.A. and to write for a living, and that’s not going to make for better stories.”

Bardugo’s first book in the Grishaverse trilogy, “Shadow and Bone” was released over 11 years ago in June 2012. Showrunner Eric Heisserer helmed the television series adaptation for Netflix with Season 1 landing in April 2021.

“I’m in an incredibly privileged position because the bulk of my income comes from books, it doesn’t come from television. There’s something different at stake for me,” Bardugo said. “Walking into that writers’ room and getting to experience that energy and the team that Eric Heisserer put together was really an extraordinary thing. You could feel the enthusiasm and the passion that people had, but you could also see that having the small rooms, the short mini rooms takes a toll on our writers. The more we can support the storytelling, the more we can support diversity in front of the camera and behind it, the better off we’re gonna be. I mean, that not just [for] the people who are in the profession. This is for the audience. If you’re out there and you’re like, why is my TV no good? If you want better programming, if you want better shows, this is the way to get it.”

Starring actor Ben Barnes, who plays villain General Kirigan who is also known as The Darkling, also showed up for photographs and book-signing. Heisserer also picketed earlier on in the day.

“This is very privileged work that we get to do and we make a choice to go into a profession that is high risk and potentially high reward, but the trick is being able to put together a career and a life. If you have to get staffed on four shows a year, that means you are never at any point able to really be learning on the job, learning from the people that you’re working with, and actually be in the process of being dedicated to a story,” Bardugo added. “You’re not getting a chance to make residuals that will potentially allow you to have a bad year or an off year because those invariably come. We’re in one of the most expensive cities in the world, which has a huge impact on that as well. So again, if you want rich stories, if you want great storytelling, if you want great films, if you don’t want to just keep seeing the same thing again and again, that means having the patience and the empathy and the understanding to understand why we’re out here and why we’re doing this.”

Season 2 of “Shadow and Bone” came out in March of this year, wrapping up the events of the trilogy but leaving things very open-ended to pick up with more of the storyline found in Bardugo’s “The Six of Crows” and “Crooked Kingdom” duology. The author also confirmed discussions about adapting her more recently written adult novels “Ninth House” and “Hell Bent.”

“We have had a lot of conversations about that. I can’t get into specifics. There were certain decisions we chose to make before the strike that I feel good about,” she said. “We’ll see how it goes. I’m going to quote myself very tackily and just say, ‘When you can’t beat the odds, change the game.’ To me that’s about knowing when to wait, knowing when to move forward and also standing in solidarity with other writers and professionals.”