SILKSINGER: Hey, you! Love the new hardcover. Man, I haven't seen you since you were an ARC.
LIPS TOUCH: Speaking of haven't-seen-you-since. Last time I saw YOU, you were nothing but a stack of Xeroxes on Stephanie's desk. Talk about lookin' good.
S: [blushes] Well, thank you. I'm quite pleased with how everything turned out.
LT: Seriously, have you been working out? Your cover is beautiful, you're the perfect size and weight for hand-holding, and — sniff — you smell fantastic! New book. Why don't they make "new book" air fresheners?
S: Your scent is fresher than mine. How long have you been available for purchase now?
LT: Since October first. You?
S: Since mid-September.
LT: WOW. And why haven't we been on Stephanie's blog yet?
S: Got me. She claims to be busy catching up with everything she neglected last month during Anna revisions, but yesterday I saw her crashed on the couch with Chris Martin, watching an Ace of Cakes marathon and eating an entire box of Cheddar Bunnies. So I'm not sure we can trust her.
LT: Her Live-In Celebrity Boyfriend is finally back?
S: Tour ended a few weeks ago. He's been lying low — sleeping a lot, helping her husband cook dinner, eating chocolate truffles and such. I just snapped this picture in the living room with my camera phone:
S (cont): He's actually talking to Steph, who is upstairs. They're THAT lazy.
LT: Hmph. He could've at least stopped by to say hello.
S: I wouldn't worry about it. They're both pretty exhausted.
LT: Well, enough about them, tell me more about you! I mean, what are you about?
S: I'm Laini Taylor's follow-up—
LT: LAINI TAYLOR?? OMG. Laini wrote me, too!
S: No way! Does that mean you're also illustrated by her husband, the fantastically talented Jim Di Bartolo?
LT: Lemme check. [Opens pages.] YES! LOOK! LOOK HOW PRETTY!!
S: Ooo. Them's some sweeeeeeet pic-tures.
LT: [scratches pages] Who are you, and what have you done with Silksinger?
S: Sorry. I just saw Zombieland, so I feel compelled to talk like Woody Harrelson.
LT: It's okay, I interrupted you anyway. You were saying . . .?
S: OH! So I'm Laini's second Dreamdark book, the follow-up to Blackbringer. I'm about a faerie named Whisper Silksinger, the last guardian of a powerful Djinn, who helped create the world. Whisper is on a quest for the city of Nanzeen to restore him to his temple, but bloodthirsty devils are hot on her trail, and there are others interested in the Djinn, as well. Like Hirik, a mercenary — a totally delicious mercenary —
LT: Excellent, me likey, go on—
S: —with a dangerous secret. Not to mention . . . Magpie and Talon.
LT: MAGPIE AND TALON! As in, the main characters from Blackbringer??
S: Yes! And there's also Bellatrix and Batch Hangnail —
LT: Do they kiss?
S: Bellatrix and Batch? EW!
LT: MAGPIE AND TALON!!
S: [pause] You are far too obsessed with kissing.
LT: It IS my thing.
S: Ack, I'm sorry. Tell me about your thing! I've been all, "Blah blah blah, I'm sooooo thrilling and impossible to put down," hogging this entire conversation—
LT: No worries! You sound AWESOME. I'm actually three stories in one, that all revolve around a magical kiss.
S: So you're . . . a kissing book?
S: Does Stephanie know?
S: Did she faint when she found out? Was an ambulance required?
LT: No, she made more of a . . . screaming/squealing noise. A squeam.
S: Squeam. That's good, I'll use that sometime. But tell me more!
LT: I think it's best if I share my STARRED REVIEW from Booklist:
"Taylor's three novellas form a triptych of beautiful fantasy writing reminiscent of Charles de Lint and Neil Gaiman—"
S: NEIL GAIMAN??
LT: I know. I freaked out when I read that. It gets better:
"Kisses are the unifying theme, with each story offering a different sort of locking lips, from giddy seduction to harsh power play. In 'Goblin Fruit,' misfit Kizzy meets a fascinating new student, an unbelievably gorgeous young man—"
S: Mmm. Unbelievably gorgeous.
LT: "—who ignores the popular girls to seek her out . . . 'Spicy Little Curses Such as These'—"
S: That's, like, the best title ever.
LT: "—is set in India and offers intriguing and culturally respectful glimpses of both Indian religion and British colonialism. 'Hatchling' reveals a fully-realized world of sometimes malevolent immortals who steal and raise human babies as their pets. Present-day teen sensibilities blend with artful allusions to mythology and magic, pulling the reader into rich fantasy realms . . . Di Bartolo, Taylor's husband, provides skillfully detailed pen-and-ink illustrations that are a fine match for the lyrical, romantic text."
S: You know . . . *I* got a starred review, too. Kirkus called me, "another ripping yarn, once again taking readers into an uncommonly well-articulated world . . . where the fairies are anything but the sugarplum sort."
LT: That's so cool! But, well, I don't mean to brag, but I actually got another starred review.
S: You . . . did?
LT: Publisher's Weekly said my love stories were "mesmerizing" and called it a "masterful, elegant work."
S: Well, did you know that School Library Journal called me "series fantasy at its best"? Because they did. Say that. About me.
LT: Yeah, but did you hear THE NEWS?
S: [pause] What news?
LT: Oh, not much. I'm just a NATIONAL BOOK AWARDS FINALIST.
S: [jaw drops]
S: Congratulations. Jacksmoke, CONGRATULATIONS!
LT: Thank you. My phone's been ringing off the hook since the announcement, so I'd better go. It was wonderful running into you again.
S: Thanks. It was great to see you, too. And, um . . . if you don't mind, will you give me a mention when you accept your award?
LT: I haven't won it yet!
S: You will. Steph and Chris have just assured me you will.
LT: OF COURSE I'll mention you if I win.
S: Hey . . . I'm sorry if I sounded a little jealous earlier.
LT: Are you kidding? I'm the one who is jealous. You and Blackbringer hanging out all the time, being all exciting and page-turny without me.
S: I imagine you'll be less lonely with the fancy new medal on your cover.
LT: This is true. Pretty, no?
LT: Bye! And to anyone reading this, PLEASE buy Silksinger. Dreamdark is an astoundingly great fantasy series and more people need to discover it.
S: And please buy Lips Touch. It's the most stunning, romantic, creepy, exotic, wonderful book of the year. You'll squeam.