I am positively EXPLODING (but not literally exploding because eew) on account of the news I have for you today. Allow me to screencap:
EEEEEEEE! First of all, let me tell you how wonderful Wendy Loggia, my editor (my editor!) is. She is a delight, and so smart, and such a smart delight, and I cannot wait to develop this series under her editorial guidance. Plus I get to work with Annie Eaton and Ruth Knowles, who are in the UK, which means I automatically love everything they say on account of ACCENTS. (Plus the whole team is amazing and talented and professional but seriously: ACCENTS.)
Second of all, I'm beyond thrilled to be joining the Random House family at Delacorte. True story: way way back when I wrote my first manuscript, I decided Delacorte was The House For Me. It didn't work out (on account of the manuscript was terrible), but it feels right being with Wendy at Delacorte as I embark on this new adventure in storytelling.
In fact, I maybe have devolved to junior high level of crushingness on Wendy and Delacorte. Observe:
I can't believe I get to work with Wendy and the Delacorte team, and I super can't believe I get to write these books.
In 2010, my husband and I visited Romania. Noah (and yes, I'm not going to pretend anymore like the internet can't figure out his name simply by opening one of my seven books) had lived there for two years, spoke the language fluently, and was deeply in love with the country, its people, and its history.
I joined him in that love. If ever there were a country designed to feel your inner creative soul, Romania is it. We stayed in seven hundred year old buildings, visited fortified churches and castles, and kept running into the old stomping grounds of this dude:
Vlad Tepes, aka Vlad the Impaler, aka the prince so historically notorious Bram Stoker based Dracula on him. (Yup, Transylvania is a real place. We stayed there. It's blow-your-mind beautiful.)
We saw where he was born, before his father Vlad Dracul took the throne.
We saw the castle where he was held captive by his own allies.
We saw the slugs that haunted his pathways, growing to nightmare lengths by feeding on the souls of the dead.
(Maybe I made that up, but I think it's accurate.)
We hiked to his fortress, up thirteen-hundred stairs through clouds clinging like memory to the sides of the mountain.
And then we came home.
And then four years passed.
And then I listened to Noah telling my mom the familiar histories of Vlad the Impaler and his ties to history. Vlad had grown up a political prisoner in the Ottoman courts, a peer and contemporary of Mehmed the Conqueror, the sultan who overthrew Constantinople as a young man. Vlad's own brother, Radu the Handsome (let's all pick our historical names now, okay? Mine will be Kiersten the Effortlessly Charming, or maybe Kiersten the Fustigator if I'm feeling cranky), converted to Islam and joined Mehmed's courts--and was even rumored to have been part of Mehmed's secret male harem.
The Ottomans put Vlad on the throne, thinking he was loyal to them. He showed them just what he thought of their loyalty, on the end of a stick. Actually, on the end of many, many sticks. 20,000 impaled soldiers, if history is to be believed.
But I already knew all of this. It wasn't my story.
And then--and then--that magic moment my fellow writers know so well happened, where suddenly something shifted, falling into place with a sharp snick and my mind was off and running and I knew I had to tell a story and I knew exactly what it would be.
Because what if Vlad the Impaler, the brutal prince, had been Lada the Impaler, the brutal princess? And what if Lada, Radu, and Mehmed had been locked in a poisonous triangle, with their ruthless ambitions second only to their love for each other?
Heads will roll. Bodies will be impaled. And hearts will be broken.
Daughter of the Dragon, coming in 2016.