The Golden Lily, the much-anticipated sequel to Richelle Mead’s Bloodlines, hit shelves last month. The week of July 1, Golden Lily debuted at No. 1 on the New York Times best-seller list. Mead’s Vampire Academy spin-off also claimed a spot on the much-less-prestigious list: Breia’s super-addictive YA books. Here, Mead talks The Golden Lily and offers up a few hints about what’s to come in book three, The Indigo Spell, which fans will be happy to know will not conclude the Bloodlines series.

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: I’m new to the Bloodlines series. What prompted you to write a spin-off to the Vampire Academy books?

RICHELLE MEAD: I’d known from the beginning of the Vampire Academy series how Rose’s story was going to wrap up. When I was about halfway through the series, I realized that the whole Moroi and Strigoi world was too rich and vivid for me to give up completely. So a spin-off became a great option. I had a fresh project to work but could still stay with a lot of the same characters and world that I (and readers) loved. Besides, Sydney, Jill, and Adrian were characters who definitely deserved their own story.

I’ve read a lot of YA books about vampires, but none on alchemists. Where did the inspiration for the alchemists come from?

I wanted to introduce a human element to the books but had to figure out why those humans would help vampires. A friend of mine suggested the alchemists and how they’d been tied to magic and chemical compounds centuries ago. Since vampire blood would definitely be a fascinating substance to alchemists, I began creating a shared history for the two groups and why they’d be working together now. I think my alchemists are almost more like Men in Black types, but they do take their origins from the historical society.

What’s the reaction been to The Golden Lily?

People are really loving it. Bloodlines had a good reception too, but part of its role was to set everything up. Now that we’re in the thick of the series, The Golden Lily is where things really start getting intense. There are a lot of action and intrigue subplots, but the romantic story line is the big one that runs through the series, and this book is where it really starts ramping up. The ending in particular has a big romantic shocker that’s left a lot of readers breathless…and anxious for the next book.

Speaking of, what can you tell me about the relationship between Sydney and Adrian? I was rooting for them from the beginning, and I’m curious if people like them together.

People like them so much that they’ve even coined a name for the couple: Sydrian. There isn’t really a lot I can say about them at this point, but I can tell you a restaurant called Pies and Stuff plays a big role in their relationship in The Indigo Spell. This book has a pretty big ending, and I think people will be surprised at what I do.

Sydney has skated a really fine line between what she’s seen in the vampire world and her alchemist beliefs. Will there be more consequences for her actions-vs.-beliefs battle?

A huge part of book three, The Indigo Spell, is about Sydney really and truly questioning the organization that raised her. We’ll see Sydney in some open acts of rebellion, but as for what the consequences of those are…well, that remains to be seen.

Can you tease anything about the new characters/plot of Indigo Spell?

We’re going to learn more about the mysterious Marcus Finch, and Sydney’s involvement with magic is really going to get amped up. And of course, there’ll be Adrian. Lots of Adrian.

Where does Indigo Spell pick up from The Golden Lily?

The Indigo Spell starts in early December, a few weeks after the previous book ends.

After the Bloodlines series ends, what’s next up on your agenda? Do you think you’re done writing about this world? Or will there be more spin-offs?

This is actually a series that’ll be five or — most likely — six books long. After that, I’m not really sure what I’ll be working on! I have another adult series, Age of X, going, but future YA projects are a mystery until Bloodlines finishes up.

Do you have a favorite YA book right now?

One of the best books I’ve read recently is The Hunt by Andrew Fukuda. It’s kind of like The Hunger Games with vampires — but it’s so much more than just that simple comparison. It was a book I really had trouble putting down.

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