Isabella Biedenharn
November 14, 2017 AT 11:00 AM EST

On May 15, 2018, Victoria Aveyard’s Red Queen series will finally come to an end. In the high-stakes conclusion, War Storm, Mare Barrow and her Scarlet Guard must side with Cal and his Silver allies to defeat Maven and overthrow the kingdom of Norta for good. But Maven, of course, has plans of his own.

Below, EW can exclusively reveal War Storm’s spiky cover — and beneath that, Aveyard tells us about the emotions (“equal parts relief and dread,” she says) that come with ending a beloved and best-selling series.

For more information about the Red Queen series, head to Epic Reads. Pre-order War Storm here.

HarperTeen

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: What are you most excited for readers to see in this last book?
VICTORIA AVEYARD: Obviously, I’m really excited to share the culmination of this story, and hopefully give the audience some closure to the Red Queen series. We’re essentially at the boiling point and I want everyone to enjoy the final installment as things… explode. 

How do you feel the series has evolved over time? How have you evolved as a writer?
As with any series, the books have absolutely expanded in scope and scale since the first book. The stakes are higher, the emotions are deeper, the pain and the joy continue to escalate. The dominos are set and War Storm is 500 pages of falling pieces. As for me, I really hope I’ve improved in all aspects of my writing, from character to plot to worldbuilding to representation. But as with anyone, I still have miles left to go, and no end in sight. 

What aspect of the Red Queen series are you most proud of?
Honestly, I’m just floored that readers enjoy the series and let me take them on a ride. I’m an entertainer at the end of the day, and knowing that someone can spend a few hours in something I created, and like the experience, means everything to me. 

How does it feel to finish such an enormous series? Can you walk us through the emotions you felt when you submitted the final draft?
It’s equal parts relief and dread, for many reasons. On the one hand, it is a huge accomplishment, even if the final book is terrible (which I hope it isn’t). It’s still something. But then, of course, you fear letting down an audience that has trusted you for three books. And there’s the fear of the unknown as well. I’ve been lucky enough to write a series that has faithful readers, and while I’m excited to go play in new sandboxes, there’s always the fear that no one will follow you to them. 

Are there any Easter eggs for your readers in this last book?
I’m a little deep into the draft weeds to highlight Easter eggs right now, since those are usually sprinkled in with later edits, but there are definitely a few right now that I hope some eagle-eyed readers spot. Mostly tiny but loving references to other works that I adore.

Have fan suggestions (or desires) ever influenced an event in one of the books? If so, what specifically?
No major plot points or twists have come from fan influence, largely because my stories rely on pretty strict structures. But small moments can. It’s always fascinating to discover what readers latch on to, which the author might not necessarily see until later on. We operate on such a macro level, especially when writing a series. It’s cool to get the micro picture as well. Readers seem especially attached to the earring Cal gave Mare, which is still hanging around.

What’s next for you?
New worlds! I have plenty of new ideas, and the next step is figuring out which one calls to me most, and what is the best fit for the next few years. It’s odd to think of projects in terms of years (and a bit scary). And there’s no guarantees in this business. I hope whatever I do next finds the right audience, but even if it doesn’t, it absolutely has to be something I love and want to spend my time with. 

What are you reading right now?
Truthwitch by Susan Dennard has worldbuilding after my own heart. It’s so good it’s intimidating. I just finished His Majesty’s Dragon by Naomi Novik, which I adored, and I’m working through Crazy Rich Asians by Kevin Kwan. I also managed to get my paws on an advanced copy of The Cruel Prince by Holly Black and now I’m impatiently waiting for the sequel.

War Storm, the final novel in the Red Queen series, will be released on May 15, 2018.

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