The wait is over! The Fiery Heart, the fourth book in Richelle Mead’s popular Bloodlines series—a spinoff to her Vampire Academy series—has arrived. And it’s a doozy! The mostly secret romance between Sydney and Adrian has been kicked up a notch, but not without consequences. And as Sydney navigates the complicated dynamic between her Alchemist upbringing and her new-found magical ability, it becomes increasingly difficult for her to keep on her perfect Sydney Sage front. Here, Mead talks about her newest release and teases what’s to come in the series.

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: In the acknowledgements of The Fiery Heart you write, “We’re in the middle of a series, so you know things are going to get rough for the characters, but hang in there! It’ll be worth it.” Why add the disclaimer?

RICHELLE MEAD: I think it was just to brace people. They should be used to it by now. When Shadow Kiss [book three in the Vampire Academy series] came out, people really thought that was the last book I was ever writing in that series. There were tears and gnashing of teeth over that. So this was just a reminder because I had that on the brain…. It’s funny. Fans almost expect it now. I’ll see people having conversations on Twitter like, “Oh, no! A third or fourth book in a Richelle Mead series. You know we’re going to cry.” For me, that is what the middle of the series is for. That’s when you pull the rug out from under people. The other books are kind of setup. You get used to the status quo. And now, we’re in the middle and everything is off the table. You don’t know what can happen. But theoretically, I can fix it all. [Laughs]

Was this the ending you always had planned for The Fiery Heart?

Yes. The reason this book is getting so many comparisons to Shadow Kiss—both by people who have read it and sort of in my own head—is that this is such a pivotal moment that was looming over me since that first book. I’ve known this is what we were building toward because it is such a game-changing moment. It unseats all the characters and their plans. I hate to say it’s something I was hoping for or anticipating because it sounds like I’m excited to torture my readers, and I’m not. [Laughs] But for me, this is the big test that we’ve been waiting for.

The big change for this book was that you wrote from both Sydney’s and Adrian’s perspectives. What has the reaction been to adding Adrian’s POV?

People have seemed to like it. Adrian’s a tricky character. When you first meet him in Frostbite [book two in the Vampire Academy series], some people found him unlikable because he seems like such a selfish, party boy/playboy type. I think that view has shifted considerably just as the rest of the Bloodlines series went on. This book takes it to the next level. We actually see in his head, and you see where those decisions and choices that he’s made in his life have come from. It’s not necessarily born out of selfishness or not caring. He’s got a lot of baggage…. I think it’s been a nice contrast to have him and Sydney because they ultimately have the same goals, but their styles of narration are different. I hope it provided a unique perspective on the story.

Which character is more fun to write? Adrian or Sydney?

Adrian is more fun in that his language is more casual when I write him. He will swear in his inner monologue, and that’s kind of more fun. Sydney is almost easier, though, because she thinks so technically. When I’m trying to describe some elaborate escape plan or something really convoluted, with her, I can just go through it in a very precise manner. I don’t have to think of a witty joke to throw in there. Though she’s got a sense of humor too, so it pops up even when you’re not trying to with her sometimes.

The Fiery Heart just came out, but you know I have to ask. What can you tease about the next book in the series, Silver Shadows?

Silver Shadows [out July 29, 2014] has the potential to be a very dark book. As soon as I say that, people are going to finish Fiery Heart and be like, “What do you mean it gets dark? It’s already dark by the time you get to the end of The Fiery Heart!” There’s some twisted stuff going on there, especially with Sydney. People will understand when they’ve read that ending. But Silver Shadows is also a very hopeful book. It’s a very romantic book. There’s some big romance going on there, especially near the end. It’s different from The Fiery Heart, which I’ve told people is a hot book. I’ve joked, “Get out your fans and your smelling salts!” That can be romantic, too, certainly. But there’s a difference. There’s a shift in Silver Shadows. People who just eat up love stories and love romance, I think they’re just going to be thrilled with some of the stuff that goes down. So hopefully that will be a good counter balance to some of the darker things going on.

How are things going on The Immortal Crown, the second book in your Age of X series?

It’s been much more relaxing for me than the first Age of X book, Gameboard of the Gods, because that was very much a setup book. As I was saying earlier, the early books are when I have to establish the world and the characters before I can start messing with them. In this book I can just really start to focus on the stuff I love, which is putting the characters through their trials both interpersonally and with each other. The romance element is kicked up a bit in this book, not without complications of course. It’s a lot of fun, and it’s a different style plot-wise than the first book. The first book was very much, kind of a procedural. They were solving this cultish murder mystery, and this book is kind of an adventure that takes place outside of their homeland, and we’re going to see a bit more of the paranormal element coming into play in this book as well.

Anything else you want to add about The Fiery Heart?

I really love this book. That sounds silly because people probably think, “Oh authors love all their books.” But that’s not true. I finish some of them, and I’m just like, “Ehh I don’t know.” But this book I felt very strongly about. There’s just such great interpersonal development within the characters themselves. They’re both facing dark journeys of their own. My editor made a savvy comment which was Adrian almost seems to be gaining control while Sydney loses it a little throughout the book. I think that’s such an interesting dynamic to watch, and of course to see their romance hit this next intense level. They do enjoy kind of a happy phase there a little throughout the book which is a rarity because it seems like no one ever gets that moment in my books because things just start falling apart. I just hope people are as excited about it as I am.

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