Veronica Roth recently spoke with Leigh Bardugo (author of Shadow and Bone) and EW where they had an awesome conversation/interview! V is veronica and L is Leigh; Check it out below:

The love interests in your books, Tobias/Four and Mal set readers’ hearts aflutter. What qualities do they have that reflect what you look for in real-life partners?

L: I’m about to give the least sexy answer ever. Ready? Mal, and the Darkling, and Sturmhond all have one thing in common: they’re spectacularly competent. They’re really good at what they do. I guess I also love the sense of honor at Mal’s core. He’s someone you’d always want at your back in a fight. I feel like that’s true for Four, too.

V: I LOVE that answer. I think competence is extremely sexy, actually. And it’s what Tris is attracted to when she sees Four jump on a train for the first time — she admires his physical competence, and the ease with which he does it. I also think something your boys have in common in Shadow and Bone is that they feel like whole people — you don’t spend a lot of time dwelling on their looks, and instead you focus on the things that make them tick, their strengths and their flaws and their desires. That, I think, is what makes them appealing to readers, even if they can’t quite put their fingers on it — they feel real. I tried as hard as I could to make Four feel as real as possible, so this is something I think about a lot.

With Four specifically, he’s always appealed to me because he’s utterly convinced of Tris’s strength even when she isn’t. He respects her and respecting women is sexy, I don’t care what anyone says.

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L: Hold up, who says respecting women isn’t sexy?

V: I mean, no one in particular, but sometimes you see love interests who completely disregard the main character’s opinions or feelings or even clearly expressed wishes, and I think that is the antisexy. There’s a difference between, say, impulsive or protective and straight up controlling and disrespectful, and that’s something I try to be pretty careful about. I think you’ve done a good job with this, actually — Mal wants to take care of Alina, but he’s not pushy or condescending about it. Two thumbs up, Bardugo.

L: Okay, now I’m the one blushing, Roth. It’s funny, I said that both Mal and Four would be people you’d want at your back in a fight. I think they’d say the same for Alina and Tris. That trust, that respect is fundamental. I like alphas. I like bad boys. I like a guy with a protective streak. But all of those archetypes fall apart if they’re just running roughshod over the heroine.

Fear and darkness are themes in both the Divergent and the Grisha trilogy. Do you ever have nightmares about the characters/scenarios in your books?

L: Ha! No but I had a nightmare about a bird pecking its way into my mouth after I readDivergent. (I did once dream that I was at King’s Landing, one of the locations from Game of Thrones. The Pet Shop Boys were playing.)

V: And I have been haunted by a particularly horrifying image at the end of Siege and Stormsince I read it. I don’t want to spoil it, but you know what I’m talking about. So I guess we’re even!

L: Is it wrong that I’m pleased? I’m pleased.

Leigh, is there anything that you’re hoping to see happen in Veronica’s final installmentAllegiant this fall? Veronica, is there anything that you’re hoping to see happen in Siege & StormRuin & Rising?

L: I’m hoping you’ll reveal a new faction called Torpor. We’ll dedicate ourselves to napping and snacking and our symbol will be the sloth. In all honesty, I’m feeling so torn. I’m dying to know what happens (and I have some theories about Edith that may have gotten discussed very loudly at a recent brunch), but it’s going to hurt to let these characters go and I suspect we’re not just going to get a happily ever after.

V: Ah, Torpor. The forgotten faction.

Well, first of all, someone needs to make out with Sturmhond, and I don’t really care who it is. But mostly what I want to see is how Alina develops in the final installment — no matter what sort of person she becomes at the end of all this, I’m sure it will be amazing to read. (I also have some suspicions and questions that I need answered! Maybe I will ply you with treats later to get answers.)

L: Forget the treats. You can ply me with spoilers.

V: It’s a deal.