Countdown to DRIFT & DAGGER: Mal's Travel Log

One of my *favorite* things about DRIFT & DAGGER was taking the story all around the globe. Unlike SALT & STORM, which focuses on a very small island, DRIFT & DAGGER hops from one world capital to another. I loved getting to research the history of these cities and tried to bring them to life through Mal's eyes--which meant combining real-world facts with imagined backgrounds true to the fictional world.

Here's a quick tour through Mal's Travel Log!:


"Standing still—even for only a few minutes, even here on this street corner in Boston at night, the stink of mud and grass and animals from the Common drifting toward me like fog—has me nervous enough to want to bolt straight for the docks."

Where our story begins (and, conveniently enough, where I live). In Mal's Boston, the rugged Dock Square butts up against the softer circles of the Boston elite. It's a convenient home base for many hunters (not sure what a hunter is? Check out last week's DRIFT & DAGGER glossary!) and the city Mal is most comfortable in. When he's looking to relax and unwind, he'll head to a raucous corner of the city known as the Black Sea and his favorite bar, the Crow and the Stone.


"The moment I step off the train and the soot-thick air of London floods my nostrils, I relax into the familiar patterns of the city."

Considered by most to be the capital of the world, London in the 1850s is in its heyday. When Mal arrives, the famous Great Exhibition is just wrapping up, and Mal and his partner, Boone, can't resist a visit. In real life, the Great Exhibition spotlighted some of the world's most amazing achievements in science, art, and technology. In Mal's world, that means a hefty showing of magical skill, too.


"The closest I came to death was in Paris, and although it happened on a hunt, it had nothing to do with the normal dangers of hunting."

When I began researching Paris, I came across a young gentleman's travel diary, where he wrote about the sights, sounds, and smells of the city in vivid detail. I was especially captivated by his account of the Paris markets and used them as inspiration for the famous hunters' markets where Mal and Boone come to buy, sell, and get information.


"Other cities in other countries have banished magic, but Constantinople is the most famous for it, with its bloody wars against magic folk going back centuries." 

ow known as Istanbul, in Mal's world, Constantinople is an elegant capital with a complicated past. As the seat of the Ottoman Empire, Constantinople is one of the few cities in the world where magic is a crime and anyone found performing magic will be immediately arrested. This makes it a prime location for those who want nothing more than to eliminate magic forever.


Next week: Something pretty

DRIFT & DAGGER in Booklist!

So thrilled to share another great review for DRIFT & DAGGER!

Booklist: July 15, 2015

Drift & Dagger
By Kendall Kulper
September 2015/ Ages 12 & Up/ $18
ISBN 978-0-316-40453-2
Ebook ISBN 978-0-316-40455-6

Mal is a “blank,” someone in a magic-infused world who is not only immune to magic but can also impact the magic of others. He loves Essie Roe—next in line of the powerful Roe witches, the guardians of Prince Island—but in a fit of pique, Essie reveals Mal’s secret, sending him off into the world, where he takes up with magical-relic-hunter Boone. The two embark on the greatest hunt of all time: locating “the shar,” a weapon that can cleave magic from its owner. Boone wants to sell the shar and start his own business; Mal is bent on revenge. Narrated by Mal, this prequel to Kulper’s popular Salt and Storm (2014) sustains the high quality and tenor of the earlier book. Mal and Essie are evocative of Emily Brontë’s Catherine and Heathcliff, although their circumstances are very different, and the treasure hunting and mid-nineteenth- century travel will give this book wide appeal.


Yaaaay!!! Love LOVE that the review name-dropped Wuthering Heights! That was actually my inspiration for Mal and Essie's relationship and the way it and they change over time, so I am doubly thrilled that it came through!

Does this sound like a book you want to read? Get yo' preorder on.

DRIFT & DAGGER Week Three: A D&D Glossary

We’re only SEVEN weeks away from the release of DRIFT & DAGGER, and this week is all about the weird, wonderful world of the book.

DRIFT & DAGGER, like SALT & STORM, is a world where magic is real and accepted. Magical people (like the Roe witches of Prince Island) are born with certain gifts--some useful, some just entertaining--and society has adapted to use, and in some cases, rely, on those gifts.

Here’s a quick glossary of some words you’ll find in DRIFT & DAGGER:

blank -- the opposite of a magical person, a blank is someone who is born immune to magic. Blanks are incredibly rare and are seen as unnatural demons. Little is confirmed about their natures, but they’re rumored to eventually grow into bloodthirsty, murderous monsters who can spread their blankness to anyone they touch, thus giving rise to the common saying: the only good blank is a dead blank.

blesti dust -- black powder which, when blown into the air, creates a temporary dense cloud of impenetrable darkness

charm -- an enchanted magical object, usually small enough to be worn or carried by a person. Charms contain basic spells designed to help or protect the wearer, but they can be destroyed or overrun by stronger magic.

hunter -- a kind of treasure seeker or scavenger who tracks down magical objects or people for sale. Hunters can work individually, in pairs, or in large, organized, and powerful groups called confederations.

hunter contract -- when someone wants to obtain a certain magical thing, they’ll put out a contract describing what they want and how much they’re willing to pay for it. Interested hunters can accept the job, but all contracts are first-come-first-serve, so in order to collect the payout, they have to be the first to deliver the goods.

hunter market -- a market devoted to people looking to buy or sell magical things, such as plants, potions, or enchanted objects

lideroot -- a plant that can be ground into a powder and blown into the air to temporarily neutralize any magic in the area. Lideroot will also temporarily dampen a magical person’s Talent.

magical person -- (also called Them or Others) someone who is born with an innate magical ability

mercy stone -- an enchanted stone which, when bitten, will instantly transport the holder to another location 

Percept -- someone innately skilled at detecting a magical person’s Talent. No one is quite sure if Percepts are magical people or just highly attuned to magic, as many hunters develop Percept abilities. Most Percepts require touch to determine a Talent. 

the Roe witch -- one of the most famous--and infamous--magical people in the world. “The Roe witch” is more of a title than a person, belonging to the oldest woman of the Roe family on Prince Island, a small whaling island off the coast of Massachusetts. The Roe witch grew to fame for her ability to control wind and water, which made her increasingly important in a shipping-centric world. Each Roe witch also has a specific Talent, unique to her.

the shar -- a famed magical object, a knife that can “cut out” and absorb a magical person’s Talent. Whoever wields the knife also wields the Talent stored inside. The shar can only hold one Talent at a time, and if a magical person is cut by it, they lose their Talent forever. The shar has been lost to history for centuries and its whereabouts are unknown.

Silvertongue -- a magical person with the ability to charm people with his words

spell -- magic controlled and created by a person. A spell can be imbued in an object (a charm) or released directly by the caster.

Talent -- a magical person’s gift


Next week: Around the world in 80 spells...

UPDATE: Haven't preordered yet? DRIFT&DAGGER is on sale on Amazon for $9! WHAT A DEAL

DRIFT & DAGGER Week Two: Take a Look at Mal

I'm counting down to DRIFT & DAGGER with a new look at the book every week, and today, it's all about my main guy, Mal.

Mal is a character I created for SALT & STORM, never imagining he'd end up the protagonist to my next book. But as soon as I started writing for him, I fell in love. Funny, inventive, spontaneous, and driven, Mal was a pleasure to write, and I hope a pleasure to read, too.

Photos and images have always been a huge inspiration for my writing, and coming up with Mal's character, I collected a lot of pictures (mostly cute guys in fisherman sweaters? It's research!). Here are some of my favorites:


The Countdown to DRIFT & DAGGER is ON!

It is exactly TWO MONTHS until DRIFT & DAGGER is out in the world, and even though, in my head, two months still feels like an endless eternity, I know it'll be here in a flash!

Because I am suuuper excited about this book, and because I want YOU to be super excited, too, every week from now until D&D comes out, I'll be releasing something fun about the book! Could be a behind-the-scenes peek, could be some of my favorite lines, could be some gorgeous wallpaper for your desktop or phone--you'll have to check back every week to see!

I also have some exciting things planned for pre-orderers, so if you're thinking of getting DRIFT & DAGGER, get those pre-orders in ASAP! (AmazonBarnes & Noble, IndieBoundautographed copies)

DRIFT & DAGGER Days will be *Tuesdays,* but I'll start us off this first week with.......


....the first thing I ever wrote for DRIFT & DAGGER!

This was way before I even really knew what the book was going to be, back when I thought I was writing a wind-swept romance a la Wuthering Heights. Needless to say, this (very rough) scene did not make it into the final book, but it's a fun glimpse into the relationship between two of the main characters, Mal and Essie (clickity-click to make it bigger).

Enjoy, and come back next Tuesday for another DRIFT & DAGGER goodie!