It’s still months before we hear from Bloodlines‘ Sydney or Adrian again, but Richelle Mead has a new novel to keep you occupied in the meantime. It’s called Gameboard of the Gods and it’s the first in her Age of X series. That’s right: After years of YA, the author has finally returned to her adult roots with an ambitious (and sexy!) sci-fi outing.
In Gameboard of the Gods, the world as we know it was nearly destroyed by religious extremists and faith has been outlawed. Justin March lives in exile after failing in his job as an investigator of the supernatural and the divine. But when a series of ritualistic murders bear a disturbingly paranormal quality, Justin is the only man for the job. Together with Mae Koskinen, a technologically-enhanced super soldier, he’s assigned to solve the cases, but their discoveries put them in untold danger. Something’s preparing to make its move on the world — and the human race is merely its pawn. EW spoke to Mead about the inspiration behind Gameboard, a possible Bloodlines spinoff, and the importance of hair dye in the Vampire Academy movie.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: What inspired you to write Gameboard of the Gods?
RICHELLE MEAD: It came from this whole different assortment of things that I kind of put together. My background is in religion and mythology, so this whole idea of a futuristic world that turns its back on religion and then gets plagued by the supernatural had always kind of been kicking around in my head. I actually first thought of it before Succubus Blues, my first published novel, but it took a long time for me to write it. It’s more detailed and complex.
It does seem to be significantly more complicated than anything I’ve read by you before.
For sure. It was much more difficult than anything else I’ve ever written. So much of the world-building was on me: in the near future, you’re doing politics and geography, so many other things I’ve never done before. Everything just seemed to take twice as long. Maybe that’s not a bad thing. But when you’re able to zip through a Bloodlines manuscript, sitting down to write a Gameboard book takes much longer in comparison.
This is your first new adult series since you started Vampire Academy. Was it at all difficult to revert back to an adult voice after writing two YA series?
No. It wasn’t a problem switching back. The problem was switching to something new. When you’re in the middle of a series like I am with Bloodlines, you can just jump in because everything’s so established. If you’re starting a new series, you’ve got to introduce everyone to everything. It’s just a lot harder. The second book started off a little more easily. I’m hoping that will continue to be the case.
And you had a baby recently as well. Has that affected your writing at all?
Definitely. It’s hard. He’s a year and a half now. He’s a lot of fun. It’s great and I love it, but it does affect your schedule because if something is required from him, that takes precedent over everything else.
As it should.
[Laughs] Yeah, exactly. And that’s a lost work day for me, which is something that I didn’t have to deal with before being a mother. I only had to worry about my own schedule. Now I have someone else who’s dependent on me. That always has to take priority over my work.
This is the first book you’ve written in the third-person. What was that experience like?
I actually tried to write Bloodlines initially as a third-person series and I couldn’t do it. It was too weird. This one, it was very difficult. Third-person to me is sometimes a little more formal than first. So it takes a little longer to write. It’s a whole different process. Telling a story in third-person — I’m doing it through three characters — you have to keep track of every narrative and decide, “Okay when do they overlap? When are they just continuing the same conversation from chapter to chapter? Are they each on their own adventures?” There are so many pieces to consider. It is immensely more complicated. It’s a good thing for me to learn, for sure. I’m glad I’m trying something new. But it is hard.
On to Bloodlines — The perspectives will flip-flop between Sydney and Adrian in the series’ upcoming installment. Was it hard to make that change?
The perspectives in The Fiery Heart were surprisingly easy. I’ve been thinking about using Adrian’s voice for a long time and it happened pretty naturally with switching back and forth between them. The most difficult part kind of relates to the third-person problem — figuring out how you’re telling the story. Are they together experiencing the same scene from different points of view? Or are they having concurrent adventures? But getting inside Adrian’s head and all of that, that’s been a lot of fun. I think people are going to love it.
Do you think you’ll ever write another Vampire Academy or Bloodlines spinoff?
A lot of people have been asking this, especially now that we’re halfway through the Bloodlines series. I’m thinking about it. I know how the series will end and it ends a lot like all of my series do, which is that there is a resolution, but there’s always room for more. So this is the question, if I go there. I don’t know! We’ll see what happens. It would be fun. It’s hard to leave that world, especially as I write more books in it. When you put all that work into something, it’s hard to let it go.
I have to ask about the Vampire Academy movie as well. Are you going to visit the set?
I hope so. The details of that are being worked out. I hope I get to. In the meantime, they’re doing all sorts of stuff. Working on costumes, etc. Both the lead actresses [Zoey Deutch and Lucy Fry] have had their hair dyed accordingly.
Don’t want to upset the fans on that one.
Yeah, it’s funny that hair color is such a sore subject with people. It was just like The Hunger Games when people saw blonde Jennifer Lawrence. But once the dye comes in, everything’s cool. So, they look great now. [Pauses] They looked great before, of course.
Gameboard of the Gods is out now.