Are you ready for another dose? Fans of multi-platform star Hilary Duff are certainly devoted to her young adult book series, which kicked off last year with the bestseller Elixir. The first volume of the series ended with a ton of cliffhangers — Clea and Ben were still looking for the mysterious Sage — and now, as this paranormal thriller-romance continues with Devoted, out today, we may finally be getting some answers. Duff stopped in the midst of a whirlwind book tour to tease some new revelations from Devoted and beyond.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Give us an idea of what we can expect from Devoted.
HILARY DUFF: Basically, it picks up where Elixir left off and Clea has lost contact with Sage. She’s feeling extremely disoriented, even though I think she’s more of a fighter than most girls in love would be. She picks up a hobby, horseback riding, which is her escape. The underlying conflict is that she is still super-driven to find out what happened to her father. Now she’s kind of become obsessed with his obsession, which is these files, and these groups that are after them, too. The story is continuing on from there. She’s kind of on bad terms with Ben, and she has to make that right because she needs him — needs his brains, I guess, and that partnership with him to find Sage. And now there’s another group, the Elders, involved in chasing the Elixir as well. That was an interesting choice for me because Amelia kind of takes on the role of narrator as does Clea. It was pretty challenging to give them such different voices so you don’t confuse them. Toward the end of the book, she starts to find Sage but it’s tough because there whole lives are depending on what Klaya is seeing and she’s seeing Sage stray. So that’s really heartbreaking for her and wants to make her give up because she’s starting to lose hope, and you’ll see what happens from there.
In trilogies, the second volume really tests the characters and might be a little bit darker than the first. Is that how you saw Devoted?
It is, yeah. You see a new side of Ben, who is a good guy. It’s funny, when I do my signings, a lot of the girls say, “We want Clea to end up with Ben.” It’s cute, but in Devoted, you definitely see a bad side of Ben — and a more arrogant side. In a way, like it does to all of us, the kind of naughty side starts to attract Clea to him. The characters really get tested.
Sage is under hypnosis, kind of. He’s not completely hypnotized, but it’s like he’s on drugs or something. So it’s altering his mind, and he’s not thinking straight. It was really fun for me to dig deeper into the characters and kind of try and find a way to keep it interesting and fresh. After you know so much about them from the first book, to see different sides of their personalities was challenging to create, but fun at the same time.
I’m sort of missing Rayna!
Rayna is not that involved in the second book, but she will be extremely involved in the third book. She keeps things exciting. Clea is this old soul and Rayna’s the bouncy, giggly, kind of vapid but in a pure way girlfriend. And keeps Clea young.
At this point, there’s one more book coming. Do you have any ideas for another series brewing in your head?
That’s a good question. This took a lot out of me. I had no idea how complex this story was going to get. When I had the idea for it, I was just sitting in Pittsburgh with my husband typing out ideas that sounded crazy to me. I really didn’t start writing in book form, because I had no idea how to start doing that. I had my four main characters and the idea that Clea’s dreams would lead her. Then it started getting more complex, and I still don’t know how the third book it totally going to wrap up. I really haven’t moved on in my head yet from this series. I don’t know if writing is really my strongest suit, but I know I have good ideas. Actually, I want to write more music. I miss that. I don’t know how that’s going to happen with the baby.
The plot and characters from Elixir are so interesting — did these ideas come to you all at once?
It’s hard to even remember. It wasn’t a long time coming. I had finished this arc on Gossip Girl … I had been in New York, and it was kind of a lonely time for me. I didn’t have many friends there. I would just go to work and go back to my room, and I just started writing. And after that, I took a break, and Mike and I had just gotten engaged, and it was in Edmonton, and I just started writing again. I had met a book agent in New York at a party one night, and she said “If you ever think about writing or want to do a biography or something, give me a call cause that is what I do.” I had never thought about that. Everyone knows everything about me anyway, I can’t imagine what I would write about in my biography. [Laughs] And then, I was really inspired. I love getting hooked on a series. I love Twilight, obviously, and I became rabidly hooked on The Hunger Games.
Hunger Games is great.
It’s hard to top that. Getting lost in a book is one of my favorite things to do. But it’s hard to create characters because you write what you know. I didn’t even base these characters off of any friends that I had, so I was just dreaming it up. For Clea, she has a lot of the same characteristics that I have, but I was just in snowy Edmonton trapped inside a house thinking, “Okay, if I didn’t have my life, no one had these preconceived images of who I am, or my habits, or what I do when I’m nervous or whatever, who would I be? I imagined this totally different life, and I kind of went from there. It was all a big daydream. [Laughs]
Do you ever see the Elixir series becoming a movie?
I do. Ultimately, that’s a big dream. I think if that doesn’t happen, I’m proud to have made it this far.
I sort of pictured it as a movie while I was reading it.
Yeah, when I was writing, my head naturally went there. I’m just so used to reading scripts, and when I read scripts, I really take my time and imagine the movie unfolding in my head. I tried to make it very visual — her dreams guiding her, that could be so rad in a movie. All the flashbacks and foggy dream sequences and also the photographs. I love photographs and pictures say so much and lead her to her next spot, and visually, that could be really cool in a movie. But I don’t know how much of a bulldog I’ve been about taking meetings and pitching it to people. I’ve had a few phone calls but nothing too serious.
Who would you see playing Clea. Would you ever play Clea?
I wouldn’t. She’s younger — she’s 17 and about to turn 18.
You could probably pass as that age …
[Laughs] You know who I like, though? There are a few people. I haven’t even told anyone this — I feel so embarrassed — but I think Lily Collins is so cute. I love her.
Yeah, she could be good!
It’s tough, though. I hear this sometimes when I go after a part and get amazing feedback, and then they’ll be like, “Well, we just don’t want a name.” S—, how can I fight with that? I can’t help who I am. I get amazing feedback, but it sucks, that’s what I hear sometimes. And I’m kind of digging a hole here, because that’s how I see my character: an unknown, fresh face. There’s just less baggage.
Erin Strecker contributed to this post.
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