SALT LAKE CITY — Best-selling author Jennifer Armentrout was skeptical when her editor suggested she write a book about aliens in high school.
"I laughed and said, 'No, that is the stupidest thing I ever heard,'" she said. "But then I started thinking about it and I was like, 'You know what, it's not something you see a lot of.'"
So Armentrout wrote "Obsidian," the first book in her "Lux" series, and said she honestly didn't expect anyone to read it. But Entangled Publishing, the small press Armentrout was with at the time, published her young adult science fiction novel at the perfect time — toward the end of the "Twilight" paranormal craze and the beginning of the dystopian hype.
"It just took off," Armentrout said. "It was one of those things you just couldn't imagine. Especially with a small press, it's so much harder to get your book in front of people. … So it was crazy how it just really picked up online through word of mouth and a lot of support from bloggers."
Armentrout already had a No. 1 New York Times best-selling new adult book, "Wait For You," which she self-published under the pseudonym J. Lynn before HarperCollins picked it up. But the "Lux" series, she said, sold double that book through international markets.
"It's kind of like the little book that could," Armentrout said.
Now, she's going back to the "Lux" world in a spinoff series called "Origin," beginning with "The Darkest Star" (Tor Teen, 368 pages, ages 13 and up). A few years after the Luxen alien invasion has ended, the world is recovering and figuring out how to integrate the peaceful Luxens among them.
Then one night, 17-year-old Evie meets an attractive guy named Luc at a club. A character "Lux" readers will recognize from the original series, Luc is more than what he seems, and as Evie discovers more about him and his world, secrets from her past start to unfold. Before long, everything she thought she knew about her life is turned on its head.
"The Darkest Star" is full of twists, many that fans of the "Lux" series should be excited for.
"I think fans should definitely be looking forward to an expansion of what they've known in the 'Lux' series," Armentrout said. "Expect anything."
Though the original series is still with Entangled Publishing, MacMillan started distributing the books toward end of the series, and Armentrout decided to publish the "Origin" series with Tor, a branch of MacMillan.
"When I decided that I wanted to go back and revisit the series, I really wanted to make sure that it would be a book that teens could easily get their hands on," she said. "For that, you really have to have a good in with librarians and indie booksellers, and the publishers like Tor — they're pros at it."
Armentrout enjoys that the young adult genre crosses age barriers so fluidly that even adults in their 40s and 50s read her young adult books, but what she likes most is finding teenage readers.
When handing out advanced copies of "The Darkest Star" at BookExpo America earlier this year, Armentrout interacted with a lot of young people in their early 20s who had read her "Lux" books in high school and were excited for the new series.
"I just can't even describe how it is to realize someone grew up reading your stuff," she said. "And they're still reading it."Comment on this story
There weren't a lot of young adult books around when Armentrout was growing up, she said, and she wishes she would've had more. So, it means a lot to her to provide those books for young people now.
At the moment, Armentrout is contracted for three books in the "Origin" series, and the second book is scheduled to release October 2019.
If you go …
What: Jennifer Armentrout book signing
When: Monday, Nov. 5, 7 p.m.
Where: The King's English, 1511 S. 1500 East
Note: Places in the signing line are reserved for those who purchase a copy of the featured book from The King's English.