As author of the young-adult Vampire Academy series, Richelle Mead was writing about night stalkers long before another group of writers made bloodless things all the rage.
Now Mead is following up the six-part Vampire Academy series, which has sold more than 3.5 million copies in 30 languages, by twisting the lens on the undead life in her new book series, Bloodlines, which tells the story from the human perspective.
Sydney, a minor character in the Vampire Academy books, is the narrator of the new series. The second book in the series, The Golden Lily, comes out Tuesday.
Mead, who will be at Joseph-Beth Booksellers in Lexington on Wednesday to read from and sign copies of that book, said she tried some other voices before focusing on Sydney.
"I tried a few different characters," even attempting to write with multiple narrators. But, she said, she gave up about "five chapters in."
The first-time mother of a 9-month-old, she blames pregnancy hormones on complicating the already difficult challenge of multiple narrative threads. ("Not the best time to be experimenting," she said.)
Mead, 35, said Sydney is the correct center of this new literary universe.
"I chose a character who was human because I thought it would give a different view of this world. In the Vampire Academy, (the reader) is looking from the inside out." With Sydney, an alchemist assigned to protect a mortal vampire princess named Jill Dragomir, "it's a whole new take on the world."
Fans — rabid, as you might expect — email her and blog to beg for a return to the original series and characters. Mead said she hopes the intrigue in The Golden Lily will continue to engross her faithful readers.
"There are definitely some surprises at the end," she said. "I do have a tendency in the second and third books in the series to throw in a few shockers."
Mead is revising the final draft of the third Bloodlines book, and she is planning for her next adult fiction, part of a paranormal series, Age of X.
She said the teen novels require a different tone when it comes to sexual content and language. (And most young-adult fiction has young-adult characters.)
But, she said, "I try not to dumb down the teens' books. Teens are savvy and smarter than they get credit for. I don't sugarcoat what the characters go through."
Mead has been busy since her first novel was published in 2007. In addition to Vampire Academy, Bloodlines and Age of X, she has written the fantasy series The Dark Swan and the Succubus series, which started with Succubus Blues and centers on the character Georgina Kincaid.
All of her current work has some otherworldly pall, which she said is influenced by her master's degree in comparative religions.
Getting the work done, she said, requires time management and domestic balance.
Writing is something "you have to treat as an ordinary job," she said. "I just put the time in at the computer."
It's a solitary pursuit, and it makes book tours, such as the one bringing her to Lexington, something of a treat — even if she has to leave her baby back home in Seattle.
"I love being able to interact with so many people," she said. "I walk away from tours feeling good about what I do, and it inspires me to do better."