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Book lovers know that there's nothing better than discovering a captivating new series and nothing worse than waiting years to find out what happens next (ahem, George R.R. Martin).
Those who pick up Emily R. King's "The Hundredth Queen" don't have to worry about being left in limbo. The second book in the young-adult trilogy will be published just months after her first book's June 1 release, and the trilogy is set to conclude in February 2018.
The eponymous queen is Kalinda, who wants nothing more than a life of peace and prayer serving the Sisterhood that took her in as an orphan. But when she is chosen to be the 100th wife of the tyrannical ruler of the Tarachand Empire, she's thrust into a glittering, dangerous world where the court politics are no less brutal than the deadly tournaments that dictate the fate of the emperor's warrior wives and concubines.
Kalinda's devotion to her best friend from the Sisterhood complicates her choices, as do her growing feelings for the guard who's sworn to protect her. Meanwhile, a more ancient, magic-based battle is brewing, with Kalinda unwittingly at its center. By the closing pages of "The Hundredth Queen," her entire world is upended.
September's "The Fire Queen" promises to be even more intense King likens it to "The Empire Strikes Back" in that everything that can go wrong does. But at least the characters' fates will be known by February, when "The Rogue Queen" publishes.
"Readers are getting tired of waiting years and years" between series installments, says King, herself a devotee of YA fantasy. "By the time a whole trilogy comes out, sometimes you have four years between. Sometimes I'll lose track of the next books, and then I'll see a cover that looks familiar years later and think, 'How did I miss that?' "
The American Fork author's series is published traditionally she landed an agent, who sold it to an editor but it's being released through Amazon, a juggernaut that makes its own rules. The trilogy will be widely available as an ebook, audiobook and paperback, but will not have a hardcover edition.
King drafted her second book in just one month and is currently working on edits for the final book, barely a year after she learned the first had sold. The pace might not be the ideal for some authors, she says, but besides giving readers near-instant gratification, she has also valued the chance to create and write without the influence (and ego-bruising) of critical reviewers and readers.
"I've gotten to be alone with my world and my ideas, which is rare," she says.
The intense schedule also fits King's personality. A highly practical person, she discovered a love of writing in high school, but didn't think it was a viable career. After marrying and becoming a mother, she wanted to do something for herself and began writing in her spare time. At 25, she decided to get serious about becoming a published author and worked "nonstop" to get there her debut novel, which will be published eight years after she made the goal, is maybe the dozenth book she's written.
Some of those attempts weren't great, but the endless cycle of trying and failing "sorts out the people who don't really love it," King says.
She and her family moved from Washington state to Utah midway through her journey, and it was upon arriving in the Beehive State that things picked up.
Through blogging, King found a community of like-minded book lovers and attended book launches and conferences. "Being surrounded by inspiring authors got me to focus even more on what I wanted," she says.
Now that she's a published author, she's giving back to that community this year she has helped organize and even taught at some of the gatherings she attended for years.
The power of community is something King explores in "The Hundredth Queen." The cast of characters is mostly women, with Kalinda finding friends, enemies and wary allies in the Sisterhood of her youth and among the emperor's 99 wives and numerous concubines. Though the writing follows familiar beats, it's refreshing to see so many women characters portrayed as individuals with unique motivations, not as stock characters who exist only as foils for the heroine.
"I really love women," King says. "I have three sisters, we're all very different, and all very independent and strong in our wills. Our mom raised us to be very strong-minded and not put up with garbage from boys."
King treats the religious aspects of her book with care. Kalinda holds firmly to the higher teachings of her faith, but faces difficult choices when she realizes that others' interpretations of the religion have resulted in corruption.
The belief system doesn't mirror any real religion, King says, but it's the bulk of her characters' world what drives their traditions, choices and ways of life.
In that way it reflects the experiences of King, who was raised in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and is raising her four children in the faith.
"It's such a huge part of who I am and how I see the world," says King, who adds that she's fascinated by the expectations that religion can place on people. "It defines part of us, but how we choose to practice it is really up to us."
Queen for a day
Emily R. King launches "The Hundredth Queen."
When • Thursday, June 1, 6:30 p.m.
Where • American Fork Library, 64 S. 100 East, American Fork
Tickets • Free; pre-order signed copies from The King's English Bookshop, 801-484-9100
More info • emilyrking.wordpress.com