Author Veronica Wolff was kind enough to join us today and answer my questions about her upcoming paranormal YA debut, ISLE OF NIGHT (September 6th 2011 by NAL Trade), which is the first book in The Watchers series. If you missed my review last week, but I called it, ‘one of the most dangerous, romantic, and exciting paranormal YA titles I’ve read all year.’ Thanks to NAL, one of you who comments on this post will win a copy. See details below.
ATUF: In ISLE OF NIGHT, teen girls are seduced and taken to a secret training facility that pits them against each other and teaches them to become partners with vampires. Where did this idea come from?
VW: It actually sprang from a few completely different ideas that one day clicked together into one. First of all, I do love me some vampires! It started years ago with Anne Rice and Laurell K. Hamilton—their worlds blew my mind. These days, whether it’s set in Forks or in the Vampire Academy, cast with mental images ranging from Somerhalder to Skarsgård…give me a vampire novel and I guarantee I won’t sleep till I reach the last page.
The second element at the root of the idea is Scotland. I love the Highlands and Islands, in particular the Northern Isles. Give me bleak, gray, windswept, and evocative any day of the week.
And finally, for years I’ve had a story in the back of my mind about a teenaged girl who is taken from her home and trained as an assassin.
I don’t remember when the a-ha moment was, but one night I sat at my computer and it came out in a rush: the first-person voice of Annelise Drew. With her, I’ve been able to weave all my passions into one, and the result is my new series, The Watchers.
ATUF: If ISLE OF NIGHT were ever made into a movie, who would your dream or, to keep things interesting, nightmare cast be?
VW: What a fun question! My dream casting of Ronan is easy. Though a little old for the part, Ronan has always appeared in my head looking a lot like Henry Cavill, especially in some of his rougher, razor-stubble shots. Hell, I might just write every book centered around Henry Cavill.
The nightmare casting, though? I think the biggest nightmare would be having a pretty boy in the role. Ronan is so strong and such a loner that pretty is the last thing I think of for him. So, no Zac Efron or Chace Crawford…though I’ve definitely got some vampire trainee roles that’d be perfect for them!
As for Annelise, that’s a tougher answer. She’s much more a figment in my mind. I pictured her, not resembling Jennifer Garner in Alias, but still, having just that sort of mutable look. The kind of girl who could be stunningly pretty one minute and utterly ordinary the next. Someone who could rock a catsuit then look just as at home in sweats and a ponytail.
ATUF: Scary bad stuff happens in ISLE OF NIGHT. Teenagers killing each other, adults killing teenagers. I really appreciated how realistically the very dire circumstances were portrayed despite the fact that this is a YA book. Was that a conscious decision?
VW: Honestly, it wasn’t a question that I asked and answered—I just began writing and then let it flow. I set up an extreme situation and moved through the plot in the way that seemed the truest to the characters and the world. I find stories more engaging when the stakes are high—when fear of someone not surviving the chapter keeps me turning those pages.
ATUF: The ending of ISLE OF NIGHT is a bit of a cliffhanger. How many books are planned in The Watcher series and can you give a a teaser of what we can expect next?
VW: At the moment, I’m enjoying these so much, I feel like I could write them indefinitely. There are infinite missions to go on, vampires to meet, and mean girls to vanquish. We’ll follow Drew as she progresses through her training and her skills are tested in increasingly dangerous situations. But, when all is said and done, she’s a teenager. Best friends, enemies, boys, crushes, fights…she’ll get a good dose of all that, too.
As for a teaser, the next book is called VAMPIRE’S KISS, and I don’t want to give anything away, but there is all the title implies…you know, a vampire and a kiss.
ATUF: What other projects can we look forwarding to reading from you soon?
VW: I’m excited to say I’m also launching a contemporary romance series called SIERRA FALLS in April 2012. It’s set in a fictional town outside Tahoe, nestled in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada mountains. In this series, instead of paranormal elements, the menacing creatures are more along the lines of crotchety old aunts and a burly bachelor sheriff.
ATUF: You also write historical romances. What prompted you to write a paranormal YA series?
VW: Drew and her world got stuck in my head and I had to exorcise the lot of them. And besides, as far as my reading tastes go, these days I can’t get enough YA. It was only a matter of time before I tried my hand at one.
ATUF: What are some of your favorite titles/authors in the paranormal genres?
VW: I think I’d faint if I ever met Charlaine Harris. Love. Her. I first discovered her through the Sookie Stackhouse books, but I love the Harper Connelly series just as much. I’d read her shopping lists, if she let me.
I also adore the Vampire Academy series by Richelle Mead, and totally embarrassed myself in a shameless, breathless fangirl moment at this year’s RT Convention. My vampire cherry, though, went to Anita Blake and so many of Laurell K. Hamilton’s extraordinary Vampire Hunter books.
ATUF: Finish this statement with as much/little detail as you like: You’ll like ISLE OF NIGHT if you like…
VW: Girls’ school gone bad. Kick-ass heroines. Smart and strong versus pretty and mean. Sharp weapons. Popcorn and page-turning. Action. More action. And, of course, an island full of sexy, mysterious vampires.
ATUF: Thanks so much for stopping by Veronica. Come back anytime!
Veronica Wolff has a master’s degree in art history from The University of Texas at Austin. She has lived everywhere from South Carolina to Hawaii to India, finally settling in San Francisco where she lives with her husband, two children, a dog and cat, and countless houseplants. Her unmarketable skills include snow-boarding, speaking Hindi, gardening, and knowing an alarming amount of pop-culture trivia.
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One copy of ISLE OF NIGHT by Veronica Wolff
IS LIFE OFFERING FEWER AND FEWER OPTIONS?THEN JOIN THE DEAD.
When Annelise left for college, it meant good riddance to her abusive father and stepmother—until a bureaucratic screw-up left her without a diploma, flat broke, and facing a future that seemed more elusive than ever. Then she met Ronan—tall, dark, and way too seductive for her own good. He promised Annelise a new life, if she had the courage to chance the unknown. One look at him and she certainly had the desire. Sure enough, accepting rides from strangers does yield surprises.
Whisked away to a mysterious island in the North Sea, Annelise is pitted against other female recruits in tests of skill, smarts, and strength. To win is to become a member of the Watchers, an elite and unique partnership—with vampires—that dispatches its teams on the most dangerous missions imaginable. It’s not exactly what Annelise had in mind for a new beginning but it’s livelier than the alternative. Because on the Isle of Night, to lose the challenge doesn’t just mean dishonor. It means death.
Let the games begin.