Welcome to Kiera Cass’s Kingdom, Where She Makes the Rules

IN SICKNESS AND IN HEALTH “My soul is 17,” says Kiera Cass, whose latest novel, “The Betrothed,” is No. 1 on the young adult hardcover list. “I feel like if I attempted to write an adult book, it would fail miserably because I couldn’t get the voice or tone right. But writing from a young adult perspective feels incredibly natural. Thinking about the first of something — your first love, your first heartbreak, your first time learning and trying so many things, it’s just so exciting to me.”

“The Betrothed” is the inaugural title in Cass’s new series, following her five-book dystopian romance saga, The Selection, which has inspired readers to leave online reviews such as, “OH EM GEE. I JUST FINISHED THE CROWN AND I CAN’T KEEP CALM.” (If you ever need a reminder that teenagers enjoy a good love story, spend a few moments walking in their digital footprints on Goodreads.)

“‘The Betrothed’ takes place in my own made-up history — Tudor-era England on my own made-up continent, with rules I invented myself,” Cass says. “It’s about a young girl who is close to becoming queen and then a handsome, mysterious stranger shows up at the palace and she starts to rethink what she wants in life. Of course, kissing and drama ensue because that’s what I do.”

Although she is “embarrassingly terrible at technology,” Cass has navigated her contactless book launch by interacting with fans on social media. (In profile pictures on Twitter and Instagram, she wears a flower crown, her preferred alternative to the bejeweled headpieces worn by “hoity-toity noble people.”) Still, Cass misses the human interaction that usually goes along with bringing a new book into the world: “Young readers are super enthusiastic. If they like something, they’re going to show up. One of the best parts is usually the launch party, going out and not knowing who’s going to be there and how far they traveled to have a chance to get their book signed.”

Within the next few months, Cass is in for her own long journey — a cross-country drive with her family as they relocate from rural Virginia to Southern California, where her husband will start seminary in August. How does she feel about the pileup of major life events in the midst of a pandemic? Cass says, “I’m a sentimental person so I was very worried about the breaking of things, but this has definitely softened the blow of saying goodbye and getting used to not having certain things in my life. In a strange way, it’s helped.”

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