Delacorte has been stirring up interest in Lauren Kate’s Fallen, which launches a four-book series about fallen angels and forbidden love. The author embarked on a six-city pre-pub tour at the end of October to promote the novel, due December 8 with a 100,000-copy first printing. The publisher will roll out the next phase of its marketing and publicity campaign on November 20, when a book trailer will open in 47 theaters (showing New Moon) in 10 cities. Additionally, 44,000 DVD book samplers featuring Fallen and other paranormal romances from Random House BFYR will be given out at theaters, and Fallen ads will begin running on Facebook and Google.

“The idea for the book came from a line I read in Genesis about a group of angels who were effectively kicked out of heaven because they lusted after mortal women,” Kate explains. “I became curious about what the experience might be of a teenage mortal who suddenly became the object of an angel’s affection.” Fallen’s teenage heroine is sent to a boarding/reform school and is immediately captivated by a mysterious boy—a fallen angel who can never be hers.

Before she began writing her novel, Kate extensively researched the history of angels, fallen angels, and “the war between heaven and hell.” The most difficult part, she recalls, “was knowing when to stop researching and when to start writing. Once I felt comfortable with my research, the story came easily.”

Fallen was developed with Tinderbox, a packager currently devoted exclusively to producing the Fallen series. Partner Michael Stearns, who is also an agent at Upstart Crow Literary and who represents Kate, drummed up interest for the series among publishers and was preparing to hold an auction when Beverly Horowitz, v-p and publisher of Delacorte Press Books for Young Readers, and Delacorte executive editor Wendy Loggia phoned him with a preemptive offer that, says Stearns, “took everyone else out of the running.” Random House had a well-developed plan, he says, “and a vision of how they would publish the series and bring it to the market in such a way as to make a splash. That often wins the day, rather than simply a number, a bottom line.”

Loggia, the book’s editor, was immediately taken with Fallen. “We had been talking internally about doing an angel book, but we knew it would have to be the right book,” she says. “When this submission came in, it had everything we wanted—a compelling, very relatable heroine and an atmospheric setting. Fallen is set in Savannah, and Lauren lets you actually feel the moss and sense the fog.”

Lauren Kate (center) on tour in Atlanta,
with students from the Paideia School.

Once Delacorte signed up the series in early May, Kate set to work finishing the manuscript—at an impressive clip. More impressive were the other milestones the author reached within two months of finishing Fallen: she married, received her Masters in creative writing and fiction from University of California, Davis, and moved from a farm in rural northern California to Los Angeles.

Kate’s graduate studies informed the writing of her series, as did her five-year stint as an associate editor at HarperCollins Children’s Books, a position she held until late 2007. “I left publishing because I knew I wanted to spend more time writing, but I am very glad for that experience,” she says. “My work as an editor gave me a strong love for revision. I don’t think I would have otherwise known how valuable feedback is.”

From Loggia’s perspective, Kate’s editorial experience is a plus. “Lauren’s manuscript came in really clean and she was great about responding to queries or suggestions,” says the editor. “I’m not sure we could have moved at the same pace that we did with Fallen had she not come to the process with that publishing experience under her belt.”

The pace of Kate’s life—or at least her writing life—won’t abate for some time. Delacorte plans to release subsequent installments of the series at nine-month intervals (“kind of like having a baby,” quips Loggia), with the second book, Torment, due in September 2010.

And Kate’s pre-pub tour appears to be paying dividends already. Becky Anderson of Anderson’s Bookshop in Naperville, Ill., says that the visiting author wowed her middle- and high-school audiences. “She taught several creative writing classes while she was here and absolutely enthralled the kids—she was phenomenal,” Anderson reports. Many of the teens had read ARCs of Fallen and were “smitten,” she says, adding that Kate’s first novel, The Betrayal of Natalie Hargrove, a retelling of Macbeth from Lady Macbeth’s perspective out this month from Razorbill, “also seems to strike a chord with teens.”

Anderson predicts that Fallen will have “incredible crossover appeal for adults, especially those with discerning taste about the quality of writing. We’re definitely still riding that wave of books with that immortality and dangerous love theme—we’ve just gone from vampires and werewolves to fallen angels. I think that Fallen is going to be out in front.”

That is certainly Delacorte’s plan. In early December, the publisher will launch a [dedicated Web site], featuring the video trailer and an author video. Kate (who regularly blogs on her own Web site), will do a blog tour in early January. Also scheduled are trade and library online advertising, TV advertising on the CW network, and advertising on CW’s smart phone app.

Kate is currently finishing the first draft of Torment, which will be followed by a prequel to Fallen and then the series’ final novel. After that? “Well, I know I’m always going to be writing,” the author says. “I have no idea exactly what. After finishing this series I’m thinking of taking a little vacation. Maybe I’ll learn to surf. But I have a feeling that I’ll be back at my computer earlier than I’d anticipated.”

Fallen by Lauren Kate. Delacorte, $17.99 ISBN 978-0-385-73893-4