Kresley Cole used to be best known for her paranormal romance novels for adults, but since beginning The Arcana Chronicles series in 2012, she’s been able to add “best-selling young adult author” to her title.
The Arcana Chronicles follow 16-year-old Evie, who discovers powers she didn’t know existed after her Louisiana hometown is decimated by an apocalyptic event. As she searches for answers, she uncovers other teenagers with similar gifts. After the success of her first novel, Poison Princess last year, Cole takes readers deeper into the dark world of Arcana in the second book of the series, Endless Knight, which debuted at #5 on The New York Times best seller list this month.
Cole opened up to EW about the Evie’s development in Endless Knight, the fun of a good YA love triangle and what to expect from the rest of her series.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: The Arcana Chronicles books have fairly dark themes and you’ve historically written for adults. What made you want to cater this series toward a younger audience?
KRESLEY COLE: In the very beginning when I envisioned the Major Arcana, I kept seeing them as teens. Their developing super powers would just compound all the pressures of high school–and an apocalypse. With the Arcana skewing younger, it made sense to write for a younger audience.
But I do think these books appeal to adults as well. The characters have to grow up fast after the Flash, and age becomes more fluid–especially with immortality in play. For instance, Death was younger than Evie when they first met in a past game, and if you added up all of Evie’s lives, she’d be a century old!
Endless Knight picks up right where Poison Princess left off – how has the Evie readers met in the first book changed as she has come more fully into her powers?
Before the final battle in Poison Princess, Evie remembered how to use her Empress powers, practiced with them to the point of exhaustion, then had a trial by fire. In a way, she earned those powers, as she hadn’t before, so that was certainly a confidence builder. Yet that horrific night has also made her more suspicious and guarded.
You frequently blur the lines of good and evil in Endless Knight – are there certain characters that you see falling definitively on either side or do all of the tarot characters, like Death, have more to them than meets the eye.
A lot of the characters have more to them than meets the eye: hidden agendas, questionable motives, inner turmoil. That said, The Devil and The Hierophant are definitively evil. But it’d be interesting to show what they were like before this game began.
The “love triangle” is a pretty common YA trope. Would you say that’s what has developed between Jack, Evie and Death?
Look for serious romantic intrigue in Evie’s future. I write what I like to read, and I enjoy love triangles in YA and adult fiction–not to mention in other media like TV, opera, theatre, and even in video games! I relish when dark and compelling characters compete for our protagonist’s heart. The doubts, the uncertainty–the jealousy!–can be breathtaking.
As soon as the characters of Jack and Death started taking shape, I knew I had to pit them against each other.
Plus, Evie deserves to have options in at least one area of her life. She’s had so many choices taken away from her (by the Flash, her destiny, etc.), but she still has a choice about who to give her heart to.
There are 22 tarot card characters to explore and dive deeper into in each book – how many more books are you planning in the series and can readers expect to get to know every card?
I have several stories already plotted. In a perfect world, I’d write six books, with side novellas to complement the main narrative. We’d get to know most of the Major Arcana.
The young male and female characters are equally developed and realistic in Endless Knight. Do any of the characters come more easily to you than others? Do you draw on real young people you’ve known or are these characters fully invented?
Jack Deveaux is based on a real life someone, but the rest are amalgams of various personality traits. Jack comes the easiest to me because I’ve sketched his backstory in detail–everything from the first time he meets his “sister” Clotile to well past the events of Endless Knight. Evie and Death are tied for second easiest, though they still like to surprise me.
Both books in The Arcana Chronicles have ended with pretty serious cliffhangers – is that a tradition readers should continue to expect?
I hope so. I enjoy a good cliffhanger. As a reader, I relish that nervous feeling you get when you’re engrossed in a story, but in the back of your mind you’re aware that there aren’t that many pages left. How will it end? Everything can’t be wrapped up! This can’t end!
Then it does, and your heart seems to stop. And you’re filled with anticipation for the next installment, debating with other readers what will happen next. The fun doesn’t end when the words do. I love that.
You released a trailer for Endless Knight. Do you see the series ever being adapted for the screen?
That would be incredible. Sometimes when I’m writing an action scene or layering an atmospheric setting (like the cannibal mines), I envision what it would look like in a movie or TV series. Fingers crossed!
Can you give us any hints on future Jack developments – is he really as human as he seems?
I don’t want to spoil anything, but I will say this: Jack’s journey will surprise you.