I am thrilled to be hosting a spot on blog tour for AND I DARKEN by Kiersten White! I really liked this reimagining of Vlad the Implaer as a girl if you want to see my review for the book it's HERE! I have an interview with Kiersten to share with you today!
Haven't heard of AND I DARKEN? Check it out!
NO ONE EXPECTS A PRINCESS TO BE BRUTAL.
And Lada Dragwlya likes it that way. Ever since she and her gentle younger brother, Radu, were wrenched from their homeland of Wallachia and abandoned by their father to be raised in the Ottoman courts, Lada has known that being ruthless is the key to survival. She and Radu are doomed to act as pawns in a vicious game, an unseen sword hovering over their every move. For the lineage that makes them special also makes them targets.
Lada despises the Ottomans and bides her time, planning her vengeance for the day when she can return to Wallachia and claim her birthright. Radu longs only for a place where he feels safe. And when they meet Mehmed, the defiant and lonely son of the sultan, who’s expected to rule a nation, Radu feels that he’s made a true friend—and Lada wonders if she’s finally found someone worthy of her passion.
But Mehmed is heir to the very empire that Lada has sworn to fight against—and that Radu now considers home. Together, Lada, Radu, and Mehmed form a toxic triangle that strains the bonds of love and loyalty to the breaking point.
Now on to the interview!
Hi, Kiersten! First, I want to say welcome to Two Chicks on Books! AND I DARKEN was absolutely fantastic, and I can’t wait for everyone to read it! And I am so happy that you could stop by for a visit!
Can you tell our readers a little bit about AND I DARKEN?
Hi! Thank you for having me! And I Darken is the first book in a new epic historical trilogy. It stars Lada and Radu, a brother and sister who are political prisoners in the Ottoman Empire in the 1400s. I decided to write a series filled with assassination attempts, violent successions, fratricide, arranged marriage, impalements, and other very current teen issues. Gotta stay on trend, and nothing says trend like reimagining a relatively obscure medieval Romanian prince as a princess instead, am I right? (Seriously, though, the more I study history, the more I realize things never change. That’s what’s fun about writing genre—you get to explore modern issues using another world.)
So do you have a title for book two yet?
Yes! My brilliant editor, Wendy Loggia, came up with the titles for all three books. In the middle of a massive title brainstorm, she emailed her ideas and I got chills, they were so perfect! But I can’t tell you . . . yet. :)
Being an amateur scholar on this particular subject, I know the history pretty well, so this is something I have been wanting to ask you. Why do a gender swap of Vlad Dracul? Wasn’t he fascinating enough as he was?
No, he wasn’t. All men can be improved by the addition of ovaries.
Just kidding! (Mostly.) What I wanted to explore with this series is how good people get to the point where they can justify atrocities in pursuit of their goals. I loved researching Vlad the Impaler because he was so deeply nationalistic, and everything he did made a sort of twisted, bloody sense. He had to fight so hard for every inch of his land. But then I thought, what if he had been a girl? She would have had to fight so hard for every inch of everything, ever, simply because she wasn’t a man, and that’s when it clicked. Plain and simple, it was history to me until I wondered how it would have been different if Vlad had been Lada. And then it changed from history to story, and I had to write it.
Who was your favorite character to write? Who was your least favorite?
Honestly, I loved writing every single character. It’s a large cast, much bigger than I usually work with, and they all brought different things to the story. So far Lada does seem to be the favorite character of most readers. I think it’s because I gave her absolute permission to be unrepentantly awful—angry, violent, brutal—and I didn’t try to soften her. There was always the temptation to pull her back—give her some redeeming sweetness, or make her beautiful, or do SOMETHING to make her traditionally appealing. But I didn’t, and I’m delighted that readers appreciate her in all her raging glory.
What kind of research did you have to do for the story?
All the research. So much. I did research on Vlad, on Mehmed, on Constantinople, on the Ottoman Empire, on Islam, on Orthodox Christianity, on Vlad and Mehmed’s contemporaries, and on actual historical women who were able to rise to positions of tremendous power. You name it, I researched it. Part of me thought these books would be a little easier because history had already done so much of the plotting for me. The part of me that thought that was an idiot. Such an idiot.
I was fortunate in that I had already been to Romania and visited all of Vlad the Impaler’s historical sites. (We really didn’t plan to do a Dracula tour, but we ended up around his old haunts and so made a point of seeing them.) We visited a church that his father was patron of, climbed 1,300 steps to the remains of his mountain fortress, and visited his birthplace and his capital. So much is still the same, and walking through his history was so inspiring. My only regret with this series is that I haven’t been able to visit Constantinople (now Istanbul). Someday! Until then, I will continue to frequent countless strangers’ photos on the Internet.
Who is your ultimate book boyfriend?
Here’s the sad thing. I’ve hit the point in my life where I read things like Maggie Stiefvater’s Raven Cycle series and I don’t want to bed any of the characters, I want to PUT them to bed with a glass of warm milk and all the parental love and support they aren’t getting. I’m such a mom.
What inspired you to write YA?
I think the most innovative, interesting, and frankly just plain fun writing is happening in YA. That’s the community I wanted to be a part of, the stories I wanted to tell, and the readers I wanted to tell them to. No book I read as an adult had anywhere near the impact on me that the books I loved as a teen did. If I could do that for someone else, I can’t think of a higher privilege as a storyteller!
I also love the themes and questions of YA. Who am I? Who do I want to be? How do I get there? Teens are coming into their own and starting to be in a place to really make decisions for themselves for the first time in their lives, and those questions are universal—both intimate and huge. There’s no more exciting age to write about and for.
Lightning Round Questions
What are you reading right now? Or what do you have on your TBR that you’re dying to read?
Nnedi Okorafor’s LAGOON. I’m itching to read Leigh Bardugo’s SIX OF CROWS!
What Hogwarts house would the Sorting Hat place you in?
Teen me was all Ravenclaw. Adult me would be a hard call between Ravenclaw and Slytherin.
Twitter or Facebook?
Favorite TV show?
Sweet or salty?
Trypophobia. Google it. You’ll know REALLY fast if you have it, too.
Song you can’t get enough of right now?
“Genghis Khan” by Miike Snow.
Thanks so much, Kiersten, for answering my questions! I can’t wait for everyone to read AND I DARKEN!
CLAIM THE THRONE. Visit AndIDarken.com to order now!
Kiersten White is the NYT bestselling author of the Paranormalcy trilogy, the Mind Games series, Illusions of Fate, The Chaos of Stars, In the Shadows with artist Jim Di Bartolo, and the upcoming historical reimagining, And I Darken. She has one tall husband and three small children and lives near the ocean, where her life is perfectly normal. Visit her at www.kierstenwhite.com.
AND I DARKEN Blog Tour Schedule
Monday, May 30th through Friday, July 8th (Mondays through Fridays)
Monday, May 30th: Icey Books, Review
Tuesday, May 31st: Bookiemoji, Guest Post (Character Profiles)
Wednesday, June 1st: Seeing Double in Neverland, Review
Thursday, June 2nd: Alexa Loves Books, Playlist Post
Friday, June 3rd: Awesome Book Nut, Review
Monday, June 6th: Jessabella Reads, Review
Tuesday, June 7th: The Eater of Books!, Top Five Roundup
Wednesday, June 8th: Across the Words, Review
Thursday, June 9th: Pandora’s Books, Sneak Peek for Book Two
Friday, June 10th: Tales of the Ravenous Reader, Review
Monday, June 13th: A Midsummer Night's Read, Review
Tuesday, June 14th: The Irish Banana Review, Top 10 Guest Post
Wednesday, June 15th: Stories & Sweeties, Review
Thursday, June 16th: Jenuine Cupcakes, Author Mystery Guest Post
Friday, June 17th: The Soul Sisters, Review
Monday, June 20th: Winterhaven Books, Review
Tuesday, June 21st: Two Chicks on Books, Q&A
Wednesday: June 22nd: The Book Swarm, Review
Thursday, June 23rd: Read. Sleep. Repeat., Top Five Fantasy Books Kiersten Loves to Re-Read
Friday, June 24th: Please Feed The Bookworm, Review
Monday, June 27th: Comfort Books, Review
Tuesday, June 28th: Fitshun, Q&A
Wednesday, June 29th: Addicted Readers,Review
Thursday, June 30th: Lindsay Cummings, Movie Casting Post
Friday, July 1st: Rabid Reads, Review
Monday, July 4th: Reading Teen, Review
Tuesday, July 5th: YA Bibliophile, Guest Post (Trip to Romania)
Wednesday, July 6th: Carina’s Books, Review
Thursday, July 7th: Mundie Moms, Author Mystery Guest Post
Friday, July 8th: My Friends Are Fiction, Surprise Post!