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Every book needs a starting place. I can’t speak for other authors, but the smallest and most random things can send my mind down a path that ends with the creation of an entire series. For Isle of Night, it was a few things. It was thinking about a girl taken from her home and subjected to ruthless training as a secret agent. It was the gray skies of a San Francisco summer. It was the Northern Isles off the coast of Scotland, with its standing stones, early afternoon sunsets, and wind so fierce there are signs warning tourists not to be blown over the edge. And, there were also surfers.
At the beginning of each book, I ask the obvious questions. Where. Who. But really, often what ends up occupying my mind the most is, who is…the guy? I live in San Francisco, out near the beach. Sounds glamorous, but most San Franciscans are scared off by the dense fog that clings to the coast, and the wind that can whip so cold and hard, sand wends its way through the windows to carpet our floor. People are scared to live in our neighborhood—the Bay Area gets chilly enough, right? Our summertime means sunless skies and 55 degrees. What those people don’t know is, there’s a surf break near here. And surf breaks mean surfers.
The place is crawling with them. I watch out the window as they brave freezing water, sharks, and deadly riptides to get pounded by the Pacific Ocean. (And of course I look away when they return to their cars to strip down…right in front of our house…ahem.) The waters off the coast of Scotland can be just as hostile—and just as appealing to surfers. See the hot guy on my cover? That’s Ronan, and it’s no surprise that among his many talents is surfing in the dark and freezing waters of the North Sea.
But my neighborhood’s blustery backdrop—and the rugged men it attracts—wasn’t the only inspiration for the setting of my new series. I wrote Scottish historicals for years, and have made a few research trips, traveling through the Highlands and Islands. Riding the ferry to Orkney, over cold, roiling, black water, with slate skies pressing down from overhead, passing bleak stretches of rock with nary a soul in sight? It was hard for me not to think about vampires.
So I had my guy, and I had my setting. But it’s Annelise Drew who is the star of the show—the book is told entirely from her perspective—and in some ways she’s been in my head the longest.
Annelise has hit rock bottom. She’s a smart seventeen-year-old from an abusive home, lacking the safety net of money and family. She has no options left. So when the sexy Ronan approaches her in a parking lot and offers her a lift, against her better judgment, she goes along for the ride.
Ronan whisks her to the Isle of Night, where a coven of ancient vampires recruit outcasts like her to become Watchers, an elite group of women acting as agents, emissaries, and sometimes assassins. The training is rigorous and deadly, and for part of it, Annelise needs to learn how to swim in the waters of the cold, black sea…and I knew just the guy to teach her.
Annelise’s journey begins with Isle of Night—I hope you enjoy it!
- Veronica Wolff
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