Kerri Maniscalco grew up in a semi-haunted house outside New York City, where her fascination with gothic settings began. In her spare time she reads everything she can get her hands on, cooks all kinds of food with her family and friends, and drinks entirely too much tea while discussing life's finer points with her cats. She is the author of the #1 New York Times bestselling Stalking Jack the Ripper quartet and Kingdom of the Wicked series. Follow her on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
In this post, Kerri discusses the satisfaction in finishing a series with her new fantasy novel, Kingdom of the Feared, how the publishing world has changed since the first book came out, and more!
Name: Kerri Maniscalco
Literary agent: Barbara Poelle
Book title: Kingdom of the Feared
Publisher: Little Brown Books for Young Readers
Release date: September 27, 2022
Genre/category: Fantasy, romance, Young adult, new adult, mystery, dark fantasy
Previous titles: Kingdom of the Wicked, Kingdom of the Cursed, Stalking Jack the Ripper, Hunting Prince Dracula, Escaping From Houdini, Becoming the Dark Prince (novella), and Capturing the Devil.
Elevator pitch for the book: In the conclusion to the bestselling Kingdom of the Wicked trilogy, Kingdom of the Feared, Emilia and Wrath play a sin-fueled game of deception to solve a murder and stop the unrest that’s brewing between witches, demons, shape-shifters, and the most treacherous foes of all: the Feared. Emilia was warned that when it came to the Wicked, nothing was as it seemed. But have the true villains been much closer all along?
What prompted you to write this book?
I love curling up with a good book and getting transported—whether it’s to a fantasy realm or historical setting that feels fantastical, or a contemporary romance that warms my heart, and that’s the basis/my hope for readers when I sit down to begin crafting any of my novels.
I also ask myself, “What are tropes I love as a reader? What are the kinds of stories I can get lost in for a day?” When I’d drafted Stalking Jack the Ripper, I wanted that to feel paranormal but be historical. And I wanted my next series to flip that concept on its head and be paranormal but start off in the “real” world.
How long did it take to go from idea to publication? And did the idea change during the process?
The very first draft of Kingdom of the Wicked began in early 2015 and I’d written about 40,000 words before getting the call that Stalking Jack the Ripper sold and had to put it on the backburner. Over the years some core elements remained the same—hate to love, two opposing forces, magic, a fantasy world inspired by Italy.
Once it sold in early 2019, I started drafting all over, changing the idea from vampires versus witches to demons versus witches, and I set it in Sicily as an ode to my family.
Were there any surprises or learning moments in the publishing process for this title?
The first book in this series came out in late October 2020, right before the election and during the pandemic, so it’s definitely been an interesting journey for this series as a whole.
Because of my chronic Lyme disease, I always have to think of ways to connect with readers without traveling a lot or putting myself at risk because of my immune system, and my publishing team seamlessly pivoted from in-person tours to virtual events. (Something we had to do in 2019 when my Lyme came out of remission.)
Even with some experience behind us, it was a vastly different landscape to publish a book in because there was so much uncertainty and disruptions in the supply chain.
Were there any surprises in the writing process for this book?
Since this is the final book in the series, it was exciting to finally write out all of the big reveal scenes I’ve been working toward since the conception of this series and planting seeds of throughout. As a writer it was satisfying to get it on the page and see how it all plays out for the characters, and I hope readers are as excited when they sit down to read Emilia and Wrath’s story.
What do you hope readers will get out of your book?
Kingdom of the Feared is the conclusion to the trilogy, and I hope it not only gives readers all of the answers they’ve been waiting for, but I hope it transports them away from the world for a few hours. Having a reader turn that last page and feel satisfied with the journey is always the goal.
If you could share one piece of advice with other writers, what would it be?
Never give up. Never stop working on your craft. Stay humble. Success may come and go, fandoms can be fleeting, but remembering that the content of the book should always come first is the best thing you can do.
Find your authentic voice, the story only you can tell, and push through the first draft until you get to the very best part (in my opinion!) …revisions!