Western Massachusetts-based author Holly Black is well known to fans of fantasy literature. She was a co-writer of “The Spiderwick Chronicles,” a best-selling children's series that was made into a movie in 2008 and will soon be adapted into a TV series on Roku. In 2022, she forayed into adult fantasy with “Book of Night” (set in Western Massachusetts).

Her 2018 young adult fantasy book “The Cruel Prince” was a viral hit that started her series, “The Folk of the Air.” Her latest book, “The Prisoner's Throne,” is the second installment of a duology that spins out from some of the characters in that series.

In the “Folk” books, readers are introduced to a realm based on fairy mythology that Black calls Faerie. “The Prisoner’s Throne” follows the “The Stolen Heir,” which features Prince Oak, the younger brother of the original series’ protagonist Jude, as an adult.

In “The Stolen Heir,” Oak goes on a journey alongside runaway Queen Suren to pursue a deadly and dangerous quest. Out March 5, “The Prisoner’s Throne” explores the fate of the pair who are on opposite sides of a looming war.

Black joined GBH News to talk about this latest addition to her fantasy lineup. What follows is an edited transcript.

Haley Lerner: "Stolen Heir" and "Prisoner's Throne" come from different perspectives — the first from Queen Suren, also known as Wren, and the second from Prince Oak’s. What made you want to tell this story that way?

Holly Black: I came to it from the idea of: What does a duology do that a trilogy doesn't do, that a standalone book doesn't do?

It's very structurally satisfying to me as a reader, because we often wonder what's going on in the other person's head in a book where we have two people who are sort of intensely engaged with one another.

It's hard because, as much as you think you know somebody when you're writing outside their head, writing inside their head is very different. I feel like writing “The Stolen Heir” and figuring out who Oak was as an adult was hard. It was really challenging to figure out what he sounds like.

“One of the benefits of writing fantasy, specifically this kind of fantasy, is that everything is turned to 11.”
Holly Black, author of upcoming “The Prisoner’s Throne”

Lerner: Writing in this world of Faerie and magic, how does it shape the way you write these characters. Do you think you're able to explore their emotions in ways you couldn’t otherwise?

Black: I definitely think one of the benefits of writing fantasy, specifically this kind of fantasy, is that everything is turned to 11. So, perhaps we do not have the experience in our lives of having a bunch of sword fights or poisonings or a fight over the crown. But, we all recognize the feeling of struggle and having people who are working against us and people who are not who we hoped they would be.

I think this space gives us a way to see our emotions differently because they're so turned up, because the circumstances around them are so huge. I think that's really one of the things fantasy can do, right? It can let us look at the world, but look at its slant so that we're not asking the same questions and we're not judging ourselves in the same way.

Lerner: This book ramps up the darkness already established in the original world of “The Folk of the Air” series. Do you think there was a natural progression to this darkness that was already there in the books?

Black: When I was work-shopping “The Stolen Heir” — Cassandra Clare [author of the bestselling “The Mortal Instruments” series] is my neighbor, we are in a workshop together and her husband's in this workshop. He has now read probably most of my books. And he was like, "This is your most traumatized character, I think." And he was like, "It's because she's gone through a different Holly Black book!"

It’s sort of true — poor Wren, her problem is she went through “Queen of Nothing” [the third book in the "Folk" series]. And the same thing with Oak. They have their childhoods in that series. They have the terrible circumstances that came with that. And part of writing this duology was thinking about how that really plays out for these people, even though they are not quite human, and they may have slightly different ways of navigating the things that have happened to them and weirder coping mechanisms, perhaps.

Lerner: You have such a dedicated fan base — how does it feel as an author to have this type of love for your books?

Black: Being able to talk to readers about characters who feel very real to me, meeting readers and being like, “Oh, we have a mutual friend” is really fun. It also is some degree of pressure in the sense that doing this duology, I wasn’t sure how much people would be willing to meet new people in this world.

Lerner: What are you excited for readers to take away from this book?

Black: I hope people have that satisfaction of feeling, “Oh, shifting perspective has allowed me to know these two people really well,” and I hope that they like where everything winds up.

I am really excited to see what people think about the fact that we now know what will happen after that. What our new Elphame [the land of the faeries] book will be. And, I think I also left a big door open. It's very clear what I'm going to do next. So, I am looking forward to people being like, “I see what's happening next."