Happy book birthday to HUNTRESS!

Huntress by Malinda LoToday is the official publication date ((in the U.S. and Canada)) for my novel, Huntress. Happy book birthday to Huntress! This is a novel I did not know I was going to write until fall of 2008, when I was finishing up the last round of revisions on Ash and was facing the second book in my contract. When I sold Ash to Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, I didn't think I'd be writing a second book related to Ash in any way — in fact, initially I thought I'd be writing a gothic boarding school mystery. ((I reserve the right to do this in the future!))

But during the course of writing Ash I became curious about exactly how the job of the huntress originated. If you've read Ash, you'll remember that every year during Yule, the King's Huntress leads her hunters into the City square and tosses out gold coins to the citizens. She and her hunters dance around the bonfire and sing an old hunting song. At one point in Ash, Kaisa explains to Ash:

"It is said that many hundreds of years ago, when fairies still walked the land and the King's Huntress was appointed to go between both courts, a powerful greenwitch was called upon to cast a spell that would ensure the huntress's safe return each time she visited the fairy court. But in order for the spell to hold, each time the huntress went into that other world, she had to gather all of her hunters together to chant the words, for that would bind her to this world. If they ever did not say the spell together before she left for the fairy court, she might never be able to return."

The part that I kept returning to was the idea that the huntress was appointed to go between the human and fairy worlds — sort of as an ambassador. I started to wonder how exactly that had come to be. From that kernel, I began to spin out a story about the very first huntress in the Kingdom.

I knew that I wanted certain things in the story: A girl having an adventure. A romance with sexual tension. A world on the verge of dying (I'm a big fan of dystopians). Powerful, creepy fairies. Weapons. And I wanted it to be a hero's quest. As I noted in my writing journal back in October 2008 when I was figuring out what would happen, "The point of the quest is to bring order and harmony back to the mortal world."

Putting all those things together, the book that came out was Huntress.

Tonight I'm having a book launch at Books Inc in Palo Alto, but I know that most of you don't live in the San Francisco Bay Area. So, for those of you who can't make it to my real-world events, but still want a signed copy of Huntress, you can get a signed copy in two ways:

From my local independent bookstore, Book Passage — Go to www.bookpassage.com to order the book online or call them at (800) 999-7909. To order a signed copy from their website, please specify that you want a signed copy in the Order Comments section of the online order form. If you want it personalized (e.g., "To Taisin"), please include exactly what you'd like me to write in the book. Once you've ordered it, Book Passage will let me know and I'll go down to the store to sign your copy.

Send me a self-addressed stamped envelope to get a beautiful signed bookplate! — The hardcover edition of Huntress has an amazing map designed by Dave Stevenson printed on the endpapers, and I've been able to use part of the map to commission special Huntress-specific bookplates. Look how pretty:

(I suggest you affix the bookplate opposite the title page so you don't cover the map itself.)

Want a bookplate? Here's how you can get one:

  1. Mail a self-addressed, stamped envelope to me at: 

    [The giveaway is now over! If I'm able to send out more bookplates in the future, I will post about it.]

  2. You MUST include a self-addressed stamped envelope, or I will not be able to send you a bookplate. If you are not in the United States, you must include an international reply coupon along with your envelope (yes, don't forget the envelope).
  3. Don't forget to tell me what you want me to write on the bookplate (e.g., "To Kaede").
  4. The deadline for sending me SASEs for bookplates is May 1, 2011. This is because I will be out of town for most of May (come see me on the Diversity in YA Tour!), and I will not be around to actually send them back to you. If you're in the U.K. and won't be able to get your copy of Huntress until May, just send me your SASE now and you'll get the bookplate just in time for the U.K. release date!
  5. I have a limited number of bookplates: only 500. I don't know if I'll print any more than that. So if you want one, send me your SASE now.

Oh, one more thing: I'll throw in a Huntress/Ash double-sided bookmark for you, too.

That's it! I hope you guys enjoy Huntress! It was one of the hardest things I've ever written, and I'm pretty proud of it.