Richelle Mead's Blog, page 11

January 13, 2013

Book Club Disclaimer:
Spoilers ahead! I'm not recapping these chapters in Bloodlines and The Golden Lily, but I do refer to some things that happen in them. These posts are to give some commentary and behind-the-scenes info for people who want to read along (or re-read) with me or walk down memory lane. If you haven't read the books, you might have some surprises ruined. So maybe go grab a copy and read along as we count down to The Indigo Spell! :)

THESE POSTS ARE NOT ABOUT THE INDIGO SPELL! You're safe if you've read the first two books in the series.



Bloodlines, Chapters 17 and 18

Jill’s being a little bratty here, but you can’t really blame her. Like I said the other day, she really has had a rough time, and I think we’ve all known a few people who deserved a frozen shower.

Meanwhile, it’s time for Chairman Ivashkov to look for a job! This is probably my favorite scene in the whole book. It firms up what’s going to be the standard dynamic between Sydney and Adrian. On the surface, she’s playing the straight man for him to bounce his wackiness off of, but at the heart of matters, she’s becoming his anchor in a world gone mad, and he’s helping her break out of some of the rigidness that governs her life. An outing like this also marks what’s going to become a dangerous trend with Sydney for the whole gang: helping them in a personal and friendly way, not just an Alchemist one.

Fun job hunting fact. Sydney’s generous doctoring of his resume was inspired by an old job of my sister-in-law’s, at an employment agency where she too had to help improve people's resumes. She’d convert things like “caught and sold worms for live bait” to “worked extensively with wildlife.” And that “What’s your greatest weakness” question Adrian gets asked is straight out a bunch of interviews I endured when trying to find a clerical job with my liberal arts degree. Seriously, who asks that? Why do they ask that? Does any potential employer expect someone to say kleptomania or alcoholism? And if a person deso give the correct “I care too much” or “I’m a perfectionist” answer, everyone knows it’s crap. Employers: I beseech you. Stop asking that ridiculous question.

Sydney blowing up at Jill and Eddie later isn’t entirely unwarranted. I forgave Jill her brattiness earlier, but running off is out of line when her life is in so much danger. Sydney’s job is to deal with unexpected problems—but not ones they cause for themselves. And after Adrian’s job shenanigans, it’s no wonder Sydney’s a little touchy.

The closing spirit dream is a reality check to remind us that helping vampires job hunt is by no means the same thing as embracing their magical abilities. Sydney has not advanced to a point where it is at all cool for her to be in a world created of magic. This scene does, however, represent major, major advancements for Adrian. First, he apologizes and takes responsibility for his silliness. This isn’t a behavior we’ve seen from him in either series. He usually either refuses to acknowledge he’s doing anything wrong or is just forgiven because of his charm. Here, he grows up a little and is rewarded with what is clearly a new experience for him: someone believing in him.

Tomorrow: we're back to one chapter a day.
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Published on January 13, 2013 11:41 • 510 views

January 12, 2013

Book Club Disclaimer:
Spoilers ahead! I'm not recapping these chapters in Bloodlines and The Golden Lily, but I do refer to some things that happen in them. These posts are to give some commentary and behind-the-scenes info for people who want to read along (or re-read) with me or walk down memory lane. If you haven't read the books, you might have some surprises ruined. So maybe go grab a copy and read along as we count down to The Indigo Spell! :)

THESE POSTS ARE NOT ABOUT THE INDIGO SPELL! You're safe if you've read the first two books in the series.



Bloodlines, Chapters 15 and 16

Adrian calls Sydney out about her weight, the first time anyone’s done it in the series, telling her she needs to gain ten pounds. She’s not malnourished enough to need quite that much, but it’s definitely a long overdue conversation, one that’ll really come to a head in the next book. It’s significant that he’s the one who does this. Just like in the last chapter, the two of them are really tuning into the other and aren’t afraid to say what no one else will.

This chapter also introduces us to Adrian’s alter ego, Jet Steele, a name rivaled only by Homer Simpson’s Max Power. I honestly have no idea where the idea of him having a secret identity came from. Maybe I’d been seeing too many Chuck Finley jokes on Burn Notice.

We have a nice Eddie line here, when Sydney remarks that vampire hunters would be a game-changer since you wouldn’t be able to tell who’s a threat or not. Eddie’s says: “It’s pretty easy, actually. I just treat everyone as a threat.” He reall is like a mini-Dimitri!

And how cool is it that we finally see Sydney do some Alchemist stuff in this book? So far, she’s been a chauffeur having to deal with high school social life, so this is a good reminder that she’s also trained in some crazy ancient pseudo-scientific arts. I love that it launches her into the dorm’s resident wise woman, with people coming to her for birth control and other needs.

More firsts follow in 16 when Sydney and Adrian engage in their first caper. Having them work together is another stepping stone in their relationship, both because they have to think collectively--and because they actually have to trust each other. Trust is a big part of friendship (and anything beyond that). Of course, I doubt anything could’ve prepared Sydney for Adrian’s tattoo diversion. I do remember writing that scene and that I just kept adding on more ridiculous things as time went on, with the flaming ninja throwing stars being the icing on the cake. As outlandish as the whole thing is, it distracts the tattooist long enough for Sydney to do her thing and also shows us that Adrian has some restraint when he finally draws the line: “...maybe a ninja skeleton parrot? No, that would be overkill.”
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Published on January 12, 2013 12:58 • 302 views

January 11, 2013

Book Club Disclaimer:
Spoilers ahead! I'm not recapping these chapters in Bloodlines and The Golden Lily, but I do refer to some things that happen in them. These posts are to give some commentary and behind-the-scenes info for people who want to read along (or re-read) with me or walk down memory lane. If you haven't read the books, you might have some surprises ruined. So maybe go grab a copy and read along as we count down to The Indigo Spell! :)

THESE POSTS ARE NOT ABOUT THE INDIGO SPELL! You're safe if you've read the first two books in the series.



Bloodlines, Chapter 14

Duh-duh-DUH! The bond is revealed. Poor Jill, trapped in Adrian Ivashkov’s head. And poor Jill, having been murdered. Honestly, I think the experience of having been brought back from the dead would seriously mess with a someone. Rose and Jill are remarkably well-adjusted when, really, I should be writing books about them in therapy. No one wants to read that, though.

And here’s Sydney, off to rescue Adrian “from himself.” What was Adrian doing with two girls in a beachside apartment? Well, that’s a mystery never to be revealed. Maybe they were just hanging out and talking. OR MAYBE NOT. I’m pretty sure your imaginations can come up with more sordid things than I could, and besides, this is a YA book.

Adrian and Sydney have some nice moments here and not just because of the funny lines. It’s a stepping stone in their relationship. You can be nice or mean to someone without much effort. But to reach a point where you can call someone out on some of their most intimate flaws is a much bigger thing. Sydney brings up the taboo topic of Adrian’s mom (which will also be addressed in The Fiery Heart), and he calls her out on blindly submitting to Keith (which is in turn linked to her blind devotion to the Alchemists). They’ve both tapped into some serious matters here, and that, as much physical attraction, builds a relationship.

We’re doing double duty for the weekend tomorrow: two chapters each day.
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Published on January 11, 2013 11:56 • 801 views

January 10, 2013

Book Club Disclaimer:
Spoilers ahead! I'm not recapping these chapters in Bloodlines and The Golden Lily, but I do refer to some things that happen in them. These posts are to give some commentary and behind-the-scenes info for people who want to read along (or re-read) with me or walk down memory lane. If you haven't read the books, you might have some surprises ruined. So maybe go grab a copy and read along as we count down to The Indigo Spell! :)

THESE POSTS ARE NOT ABOUT THE INDIGO SPELL! You're safe if you've read the first two books in the series.



Bloodlines, Chapter 13

Sydney learns to throw a punch in this chapter. Hope that comes in handy later.

Most of this chapter is just building up the tattoo mystery and the awkwardly adorable Eddie-Jill dynamic. The next big plot breakthrough doesn’t come until Chapter 14. So, I’ll use this space to address an issue I didn’t have a chance to earlier in book club: why is Sydney from Salt Lake City?

I get asked this all the time, and the obvious answer is, well, she’s got to be from somewhere. SLC just felt right as Sydney’s hometown. It’s a beautiful, tranquil place—and the people there are super smart, so Sydney fits right in. I always get asked my toughest questions when I have signings in SLC. Seriously. I remember having my first visit there near the end of the Last Sacrifice tour and being blown away. You do enough signings, and you start to get cocky because you get some answers prepared for common questions. There were none of those in SLC. I don’t remember the specifics, but I got asked things I’d never been hit with before, ones that sent my mind racing: Think fast, Richelle! Think fast! When I came back to SLC with the Smart Chicks last fall, I was ready for brainy SLC...at least until a monster cold hit me, dragging down my mental agility.

Oh, Salt Lake City. I’ll outsmart you one of these days.
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Published on January 10, 2013 08:54 • 557 views

January 9, 2013

Book Club Disclaimer:
Spoilers ahead! I'm not recapping these chapters in Bloodlines and The Golden Lily, but I do refer to some things that happen in them. These posts are to give some commentary and behind-the-scenes info for people who want to read along (or re-read) with me or walk down memory lane. If you haven't read the books, you might have some surprises ruined. So maybe go grab a copy and read along as we count down to The Indigo Spell! :)

THESE POSTS ARE NOT ABOUT THE INDIGO SPELL! You're safe if you've read the first two books in the series.


Bloodlines, Chapter 12

Mini-golf!

If you’ve hung in there through most of my books, you know I really dig mixing very serious elements with completely silly ones. So, a mini-golf outing in the midst of a book about secret societies and vampire assassins is inevitable in the Richelle Mead School of Writing.

This outing is good fun because we get one of those rare incredulous moments from serious Eddie: “I was practically raised at an isolated school in the middle of nowhere Montana, and even I’ve played mini-golf.” Sydney turns out to be good at this too, duh, and what I love about her continuing sports prowess is that it’s not so much a part of some superhuman athletic ability as her using nerdy behind-the-scenes calculations. “It’s simple geometry,” she tells them. Whereas Adrian advocates a far more questionable method: “I just rely on natural talent.”

Hang on to your foreshadowing hats because it’s all over the place here. Sydney’s mad because Jill knows all about a conversation with Adrian and therefore thinks Adrian told Jill everything when, really, Jill just saw it through the bond. Lee won’t use magic because, as we find out later, he’s no longer capable of doing it. (Only restored spirit users regain their magic because of the jolt of spirit used in their healing. Those who wield the physical elements lose the ability). Adrian tells Sydney she’s cute in her Count Dracula picture...little do those crazy kids know.

Finally, this chapter has one of Adrian’s slyest comments. When Sydney worries about the age difference between Lee and Jill, Adrian makes an unnamed callback to Rose and Dimitri: “Believe me, I’ve seen age differences. Theirs is nothing.”
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Published on January 09, 2013 14:09 • 717 views

January 8, 2013

Book Club Disclaimer:
Spoilers ahead! I'm not recapping these chapters in Bloodlines and The Golden Lily, but I do refer to some things that happen in them. These posts are to give some commentary and behind-the-scenes info for people who want to read along (or re-read) with me or walk down memory lane. If you haven't read the books, you might have some surprises ruined. So maybe go grab a copy and read along as we count down to The Indigo Spell! :)

THESE POSTS ARE NOT ABOUT THE INDIGO SPELL! You're safe if you've read the first two books in the series.


Bloodlines, Chapter 11

I pride myself on highbrow subtle humor, as well as the completely random, nonsensical humor that follows Malachi Wolfe’s anecdotes and Rose’s use of ketchup on tacos. Sometimes, however, an in-your-face, old-fashioned vampire joke is in order, like when Adrian tells Keith, “Mmm. O positive, my favorite.” It even gets a spit take. Maybe it’s not as classy as Sydney’s intellectual jokes, but I think it’s pretty perfect here. Keith operates on vampire stereotypes, so it’s fitting he gets played by one.

Meanwhile, we get introduced to the concept of vampire hunters. I think this is an idea that was long overdue in the Moroi/Strigoi world. We already know there are trigger-happy dhampirs in Russia who go after Strigoi. It seems logical that there are going to be humans who know about vampires, like the Alchemists, but who aren’t going to adopt the “let’s just cover them up” attitude. Not much is done with this concept here in the first Bloodlines book, but it’s seeded since it’s going to become one of the main subplots running through the rest of the series. I’ll talk more about those guys when we get to The Golden Lily, but suffice to say, I was already making plans to create a more renegade, haphazard style of hunters than the sleek and righteous ones of the Buffyverse. Can’t recall the page, but it’s very, very briefly touched upon that Trey has a sun tattoo in this book.

One more fun fact on vampire hunters. In Eastern Europe myth, where a lot of the concepts in the two series come from, dhampirs were reputed to be excellent vampire hunters. In fact, there was this idea that if you had a vampire problem, you could just get a dhampir to come to your village and deal with it. I didn’t know that story when I began the series, so it works out well that dhampirs ended up being my warriors in the fight against evil.
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Published on January 08, 2013 11:59 • 557 views

January 7, 2013

Book Club Disclaimer:
Spoilers ahead! I'm not recapping these chapters in Bloodlines and The Golden Lily, but I do refer to some things that happen in them. These posts are to give some commentary and behind-the-scenes info for people who want to read along (or re-read) with me or walk down memory lane. If you haven't read the books, you might have some surprises ruined. So maybe go grab a copy and read along as we count down to The Indigo Spell! :)

THESE POSTS ARE NOT ABOUT THE INDIGO SPELL! You're safe if you've read the first two books in the series.


Bloodlines, Chapter 10

When I was a student teacher, I also used to make Starbucks runs for my supervising teacher, and he too was a caramel sauce fan. I actually discovered there’s a whole cult around it. People who prefer caramel sauce are hardcore, and woe unto you if you give them caramel syrup in their coffee. I used to experience similar vehemence during my high school job in an ice cream parlor when it came to caramel vs. butterscotch sundaes. What none of our customers knew was that the product we actually used for both kinds of sundaes was called “All Purpose Caramel-Butterscotch Syrup.” There could’ve been some serious riots if that information got out. Georgina fans may recall another caramel sauce callback in Succubus Blues.

Anyway, Sydney finds out about the illicit tattoos here, but what I also like is just seeing her interacting in a normal school setting. Remember—Sydney’s mostly been home-schooled, so this sort of library study/social time isn’t par for the course for her. We also see a bit more of the dynamic duo, Kristin and Julia. Whereas Trey is her semi-normal human friend, these two are her very normal human friends, which I think is important to have in her intense supernatural world. Sometimes they come off as flighty, but they’re not really that way all the time. That’s just the side we see more often than not because I use those moments to highlight Sydney’s more serious and socially awkward aspects. Kristin and Julia have plenty of substance behind the scenes, or else Sydney probably couldn’t handle being friends with them.
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Published on January 07, 2013 12:14 • 487 views

January 6, 2013

Book Club Disclaimer:
Spoilers ahead! I'm not recapping these chapters in Bloodlines and The Golden Lily, but I do refer to some things that happen in them. These posts are to give some commentary and behind-the-scenes info for people who want to read along (or re-read) with me or walk down memory lane. If you haven't read the books, you might have some surprises ruined. So maybe go grab a copy and read along as we count down to The Indigo Spell! :)

THESE POSTS ARE NOT ABOUT THE INDIGO SPELL! You're safe if you've read the first two books in the series.


Bloodlines, Chapter 8 & 9

Trey gets a lot of screen time here, which is nice. I wanted Sydney to have some normal (well…kind of) human friends here in high school, and I like that Trey can keep up with her academically but still pulls off the popular football star thing. Slade is introduced here because there always seems to be someone obnoxious like him around.

P.E. was going to be a big deal if Jill had been one of the narrators, and I tried really hard to drive home its impact via Sydney (who naturally turns out to be good at sports, just like everything else—wait until you see her play Ski ball in The Indigo Spell). We’ve gotten lazy in thinking it’s easy for vampires and dhampirs to blend into human society, but we can’t forget that there are some serious differences among the races. Sometimes it takes something as simple as a volleyball game to remind us.

Sydney tells Eddie, “Humans and vampires can’t be together! It’s disgusting and wrong.” That, my friends, is what we in the business call foreshadowing.

Speaking of Eddie, I’ll address a much-asked question: no, there’s no long-lost family relation between Eddie and Micah. This is another side effect of losing the multi-narrated format. We would’ve seen a lot more of Eddie’s inner conflict from the first series if his POV had ended up getting worked in. Losing your best friend when you were helpless to act would leave a serious scar, and I created Micah just to give Eddie a little more angst. Mean, I know.

Chapter 9 gives us a lot of good Sydney and Adrian banter. There’s more eye rolling from her and another of my favorite Adrian gems: “All guys mean the same thing when they want to ‘get to know a girl better.’ You’re a well-bred young lady, so I understand why you’d be too innocent to understand. Good thing you’ve got me here to interpret.” She still thinks he’s cocky and shallow, and he still thinks she’s stiff and uptight. But they’re warming up and, no matter how much they want to deny it, are starting to get comfortable and even like being around each other.

The chapter ends with Keith being an asshole, but seriously, is anyone surprised by that?

Tomorrow: just Chapter 10.
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Published on January 06, 2013 10:47 • 702 views

January 5, 2013

Book Club Disclaimer:
Spoilers ahead! I'm not recapping these chapters in Bloodlines and The Golden Lily, but I do refer to some things that happen in them. These posts are to give some commentary and behind-the-scenes info for people who want to read along (or re-read) with me or walk down memory lane. If you haven't read the books, you might have some surprises ruined. So maybe go grab a copy and read along as we count down to The Indigo Spell! :)

THESE POSTS ARE NOT ABOUT THE INDIGO SPELL! You're safe if you've read the first two books in the series.


Bloodlines, Chapter 6 and 7

Ah, the wacky yet astute Ms. Terwilliger. I knew she’d play a big role in the series, but if I’d had any idea just how big, I never would’ve given her that last name. It’s so long! And Sydney, being proper in her POV, always refers to her by that full title, so I have to be true to her character and type it all out. In Adrian’s POV in The Fiery Heart, he refers to her as Jackie in his chapters, so it saves me a few keystrokes. Ms. Terwilliger was originally going to be Mr. Terwilliger, in order to give Sydney a healthier father figure. Having a high school girl sneaking off on secret tasks with her guy teacher is kind of creepy, though…Rose and Dimitri aside.

Here also is where “Sydney Melbourne” is born, one of my favorite running jokes. I adore Australia, and with a character named Sydney, it seemed inevitable that this sort of mishap would happen. I planned it in advance and chose “Melrose” in order to make the joke work.

I thought I was being particularly clever with Jill’s vicarious hangover. We’d already seen all sorts of feelings and experiences pass through the bond in the last series, so why not alcohol and its consequences? I didn’t feel nearly so clever, however, when the book was on its way to printing, and a friend reminded me, “Isn’t that kind of what happened in E.T.?” Sigh. Spielberg always beats me to everything.

It’s a small, small thing, but we get our first almost flirty moment with Adrian and Sydney when he sees her in her uniform, which is just as prim and proper as her normal attire:

“Sage, aren’t you guys supposed to have uniforms? This looks like what you usually wear.”

“Cute,” I said, suppressing an eye roll.


Of course, Adrian switches to full petulant mode soon thereafter when he wants Sydney to “get him out” because he’s so bored. Even I have to admit, he’s kind of out of line putting all that on her. And poof! Away goes their camaraderie…for now.

Did you catch Lee’s interest in Sydney’s tattoo? His romantic feelings are for Jill, but he’s already trying to stake out an Alchemist in the hopes of fulfilling his crazy plan.

Two more chapters tomorrow as well, and then we’ll slow back down to one a day during the week.
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Published on January 05, 2013 12:27 • 805 views

January 4, 2013

Book Club Disclaimer:
Spoilers ahead! I'm not recapping these chapters in Bloodlines and The Golden Lily, but I do refer to some things that happen in them. These posts are to give some commentary and behind-the-scenes info for people who want to read along (or re-read) with me or walk down memory lane. If you haven't read the books, you might have some surprises ruined. So maybe go grab a copy and read along as we count down to The Indigo Spell! :)

THESE POSTS ARE NOT ABOUT THE INDIGO SPELL! You're safe if you've read the first two books in the series.


Bloodlines, Chapter 5

I love the relationship between Adrian and Jill and how he looks out for her like a little sister. You might remember me setting up his protective attitude in Spirit Bound, and it’s one of our first signs that maybe he’s not the carefree party boy he always acts like. And I like how she’s a source of calmness for him in the turbulent storm of his life.

Today’s fun fact: I had no idea how modern boarding schools worked. I’d seen magical boarding schools like Harry Potter’s and vampire ones like St. Vladimir’s, but how do they really function in the 21st century when people aren’t practicing magic and working around supernatural creatures? I researched various private school websites and modeled Amberwood’s three-campus layout on one I read about in California. That was also where I learned about off-campus privileges and how they deal with students with cars. These seem like mundane details, but they’re things I have to have a grasp on in order to write about my characters’ daily lives.

And here, also, we face one of the series’ most controversial topics: Sydney’s body issues. I said yesterday that you can’t always trust your narrator, and she’s no exception. Maybe she’s telling us this story, but she’s not all-knowing (no matter how smart she is) and certainly not perfect. She hardly ever ate in the Vampire Academy series, and those habits have carried over. Is it the right thing to do? Absolutely not, and I’m in no way endorsing that kind of view or saying that everyone needs to be a size two. Sydney, for all her book smarts, is deluded when it comes to her own body, and it’s an issue I seeded in the last series to be addressed in this one. For more thoughts on this, check out this post.

Tomorrow I’ll do chapters six and seven, since we’ve got to make up a little time to get both books done by The Indigo Spell.
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Published on January 04, 2013 12:02 • 743 views