MORGAN — Utah author Jennifer A. Nielsen, best known for her middle grade adventure novel "The False Prince," is coming out with a new, more mature young adult fantasy series starting with "The Traitor's Game" (Scholastic, 400 pages, ages 12 and up).
Nielsen emphasized in an interview that while her books are always clean, this one does have a few more kissing scenes. It's more romantic than her previous books with main characters who are 16 and 17 years old.
When Nielsen told her teenage daughter that she was writing a romantic book, her daughter responded, "Mom, I do not want to read a book about what you think is hot." Then, after reading "The Traitor's Game," Nielsen's daughter had to admit that she liked the kissing scenes after all.
Despite the romance, "The Traitor's Game" still has the adventure and danger of Nielsen's other books, she said. It tells the story of Kestra, the daughter of the king of Antora's righthand man, who is kidnapped by a rebel group that includes a young man named Simon. Simon grew up a servant in Kestra's father's house and feels personally betrayed by Kestra, so he is now helping use her to end the king's rule. As Kestra works to foil their plan, secrets and plot twists are revealed that change everything she and Simon know about themselves, their world and where their loyalties should lie.
Nielsen said she often gets requests for more books like "The False Prince," the first book in her Ascendance Trilogy, and her Mark of the Thief series, and she hopes those readers, who are now a little older, will appreciate her efforts to continue to write for them.
The inspiration for "The Traitor's Game" came to Nielsen from the song "Run" by Snow Patrol. She said she often gets her ideas from songs, and the lyrics of "Run" just kept turning in her head. Since the meaning behind the song is not very clear, she started making up her own story to go with the words.
"It became this idea of two people who really want to be together, but everything is pulling them apart," she said. "As I started asking questions about why, 'The Traitor's Game' began to emerge in my mind."
While she's been mulling over this idea for years, when she finally pitched it to her editor — along with five or six other ideas — the initial concept for what became "The Traitor's Game" stood out to her editor the most.
Right now, Nielsen is planning for this new book to be the first in a trilogy — whether there will be more books is up to how readers receive "The Traitor's Game."
"There's definitely enough story available that I could keep going longer than three books," Nielsen said.
For Nielsen, it's important to her to write for young readers because she knows books change lives and what she writes is going to have an impact on who her readers become.
"I always write with the idea in mind that books are part of building the next generation," she said.Comment on this story
In keeping with that, Nielsen does more than 100 school visits a year. And, at the book launch for "The Traitor's Game" on Feb. 27, she will have a drawing to give away a book club set of her new book to the Title I school of the winner's choice.
"I hope people will come out and support the idea of getting books into the hands of kids who may not have them," she said.
If you go …
What: Jennifer Nielsen book signing
When: Tuesday, Feb. 27, 7 p.m.
Where: Davis County Library South Branch, 725 S. Main, Bountiful
Note: Places in the signing line are reserved for those who purchase a copy of the featured book from The King's English.