It has been more than a decade since Australian author Garth Nix published Abhorsen, the third volume (after Sabriel and Lirael) in his Old Kingdom fantasy series. The author revisits this land in Clariel: The Lost Abhorsen (HarperCollins/Katherine Tegen, Oct.), a prequel set 600 years before the birth of Sabriel. In the new tale, Clariel, a blood relation of both Abhorsen and the king, discovers hidden sorcery within herself when she’s drawn into efforts to capture a dangerous Free Magic creature. The novel will have a 100,000-copy first printing.

“I had always intended to write Clariel, ever since I introduced the character of Chlorr of the Mask in Lirael,” explains Nix of reviving this saga after so many years. “It just took me a lot longer to get to it than I anticipated. I made some notes way back in 2001 or thereabouts, and kept expanding them from time to time. But other books intervened, until finally Clariel and her story were uppermost in my mind, and I just had to write it.”

The author said that setting Clariel centuries earlier than the earlier novels was a challenge, but, he says, “really only in the way that every new book is a challenge. Whoever it was who said ‘You never know how to write a novel, you only know how you wrote the last one’ was a very wise person.” It helped, Nix adds, that he had “seeded many small details about the past throughout the previous books, and could grow these into larger details. I also looked back through my notebooks to decipher sometimes very obscure jottings about the Old Kingdom.”

Nix says that his fans have been clamoring for new installments of the series since its debut in 1995 (in Australia) and 1996 (in the U.S.). “From the moment Sabriel was published, readers have asked for more, and that only intensified with Lirael and Abhorsen,” he notes. “Naturally, I take this as a compliment.”

Currently working on a sequel to Abhorsen, Nix is taking a break from writing to attend BEA and will return to the States in the fall to tour for Clariel. A former bookseller and book editor, he appreciates BEA from several angles. “I have an abiding fascination for all aspects of the book business, not just my own part in it as an author these days,” he says. “It is always exciting to catch up with old colleagues and friends. And on my fall tour, I hope to connect with the many faithful readers who have so patiently waited for a new Old Kingdom novel, and the booksellers and librarians who have been so instrumental in getting the books into readers’ hands.”

Fans can get an early look at Clariel this morning, 10–10:30 a.m., when Nix signs ARCs at Table 14 in the Autographing Area.