So. I have some news.
"New York Times bestselling author of the LEGEND series Marie Lu's new fantasy trilogy THE YOUNG ELITES, in a Renaissance-like world where young children who survive the blood fever are often gifted with god-like powers, three rival societies battle for supremacy, in a major deal, for publication in fall 2014, to Jen Besser at Putnam Children's, by Kristin Nelson at Nelson Literary Agency (World)." (via Publisher's Marketplace)
There it is! The Young Elites. I drew some pics and pinned some Pinteresting things:
Young Elites art and details
Think X-Men meets Assassin's Creed 2 meets Game of Thrones. Those elements are all in there somewhere, mashed together into literary guacamole with a big keyboard-shaped spoon. (That was a terrible analogy. I apologize. Sort of.)
I cannot express my excitement at working with Team Putnam/Penguin again. I cannot. They are a team of Young Elites with all sorts of crazy powers. And Agent Kristin is a Superwoman who guided this little author through some seriously whacked out early versions of the story. Luff.
"Whacked out early versions, you say?" Yes, The Young Elites and I went through some growing pains before I managed to kick this story into line.
About a year ago, I decided I wanted to write a fantasy series. I grew up reading almost exclusively fantasy and science fiction, and the very first (thankfully unpublished) manuscript I ever finished in high school was a fantasy. So I always knew I would head in this direction. I came up with the initial idea for The Young Elites in early 2012 and excitedly wrote a few chapters. I tossed it. I tried again. I tossed it again. I did this several more time over the span of the next year or so, until I'd probably written enough words to have filled an entire book. Still, I couldn't "find it." I had characters, I had a premise, and I had a world . . . but I didn't have a story. Not until a few months ago did I finally figure out my problem.
I had the wrong protagonist.
Picking the right protagonist for your story is one of the most important decisions you can make as a writer—and it was a decision I never had trouble with for Legend. Day and June were my protagonists the instant the story sparked in my mind. They came fully formed, their personalities and attitudes complete and their character arcs ready to go. I took off running with them.
With TYE, I didn't have this same ease. I started out telling the story from the point of view of a boy we'll call Faketagonist. Faketagonist had a cast of (hopefully) interesting secondary characters swirling around him . . . but he himself was bland and uninspired. Too normal. Too 'nice'. Things happened to him and around him—but he never took action. Faketagonist waited a lot and relied on too many people. He was not protagonist material.
Then, I heard her. Off to Faketagonist's side was a secondary character, a girl with snow white hair and a missing eye, a dark past and an even darker character arc. I hesitated to give her the lead role, to be honest. Adelina Amouteru is a bit like a teenage female version of Magneto and Darth Vader. She is not a nice girl. She has twisted opinions about the world and the people around her. Day (from Legend) was a boy who walked in the light, but Adelina is a girl who walks in darkness.
And I worry, because even though Adelina and I are very different in many ways, I see pieces of myself in her that I'm not proud of. We all have our dark side, don't we? (Okay fine, maybe you don't, but please nod along and humor me. Plus, we need to get together and work on nurturing your inner mwahaha.)
There are also superheroes, supervillains, royalty, bad boys with hearts of gold, bad boys with hearts of dead puppies, good boys who drink their tea with a spoonful of cunning, good girls who make mistakes, badass girls, badass boys, boys and girls who do stupid things, smart things, and everything in between. Oh, and magic. Naturally.
This is, of course, all what I'm picturing in my head. I'm not done with the story yet. And I'm working VERY hard to make sure that this book doesn't make CSI's Horatio Caine go, "Well, it looks like the Young Elites are nothing more than . . . *sunglasses* the Young Disappointments. EEEEEYYEEEEAAAH!"
That's about all I have to say for now. I hope you guys will like it. I can't wait for you all to read it in Fall 2014! Until then, I'll be writing furiously and hyperventilating into a paper bag.
P.S. After Faketagonist was removed from his leading role post, he managed to pull himself together and turn into a surprisingly fun secondary character. He has congratulated Adelina and now lives on set in his secondary character trailer.