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Insider Secrets with Ayana Gray on BEASTS OF PREY, BEASTS OF RUIN, and BEASTS OF WAR

The conclusion to Ayana Gray’s bestselling trilogy is finally here! In Beasts of War, Koffi and Ekon must work together to stop the god of death from destroying the world. But first, they must face a slew of dangerous beasts old and new. In the end, will destiny unite Koffi and Ekon for the last time, or tear them apart for good?

We asked author Ayana Gray for some insider secrets about all three books, and she had answers! Scroll down to discover six things that were almost really different.

BEWARE: Spoilers ahead for all three books!

Hello! My name is Ayana Gray, and I’m the New York Times-bestselling author of Beasts of Prey, Beasts of Ruin, and most recently Beasts of War. Beasts of War is the epic finale to a YA fantasy series that follows an indentured beastkeeper and warrior-in-training who are trying to stop the god of death from destroying the world. I’m so excited that after nearly a decade of writing, this series is now complete, but it didn’t come to fruition without its challenges, many of which I’ve kept secret—until now.

Here are six “insider secrets” about the series. Be warned, there are some major series spoilers up ahead for all three books, including about Beasts of War.

Secret 1: I’d originally considered letting Adiah live at the end of Beasts of Prey.

Adiah’s POV in Beasts of Prey came as a surprise to me, I wasn’t planning on writing it. After I did though, I really considered letting her live. (I’d grown attached!) In the end though, I thought of all Adiah had went through. She was existing in a world in which everyone she’d known and loved was long gone, and I decided the kinder thing after all she’d suffered through was to let her rest. Thus, I decided to end her story peacefully at the end of Beasts of Prey.

Secret 2: I struggled to figure out who the mystery third POV would be in Beasts of Ruin.

Each book in this series has three POVs: Koffi’s, Ekon’s, and a third mystery character. While Adiah and Akande’s POVs in books 1 and 3 came very easily, I actually tried out several different POVs in Beasts of Ruin before settling on Binti (Koffi’s mom). At one point, I even considered making the third POV Fedu! (Sometimes, I still wonder how different the story would have been if I did!)

Secret 3: The Enterprise looked very different in the original drafts.

I knew, when I began writing Beasts of Ruin, that Ekon and Themba were going to join a crew of some sort on their journey to rescue Koffi (who doesn’t love the “merry band of thieves” trope?), but originally, the Enterprise was a more religious group. As the drafts developed though, I found I liked the idea of forcing Ekon—a staunch rule follower—to find camaraderie with people who are very pointedly rule breakers. Thus, the Enterprise became an illegal spice-trading syndicate instead (and also became way more fun to write!).

Secret 4: I cut a wedding scene from Beasts of Ruin.

I’m a sucker for a wedding scene, and I so hoped I’d get to write one in this series. In fact, I actually did write one—between Koffi’s parents!—in Beasts of Ruin. Although it was an emotionally powerful scene, it ultimately didn’t move the story forward in a meaningful way, so I cut it! (It’s still in a folder on my computer though.)

Secret 5: I cut an entire side adventure from Beasts of War.

If you’ve read Beasts of War, you know that the book moves at a breakneck pace as Koffi and Ekon race against a ticking clock, and the stakes are higher than ever. As I wrote, I had to really resist the urge to pack every page with action, and in fact, I’d initially planned to send Koffi, Ekon, and the gang on a bit of a side mission that took them completely underground, literally! In the end though, my editor pointed out that this took us too far away from the story’s main plot. It was good advice, and in the end I did cut it! (Are you seeing a pattern yet?)

Secret 6: I didn’t know Zain would die at the end of Beasts of War.

Death is the one thing that took me by surprise as I wrote these books. Even when I suspected that a character might not make it to the end, writing the death scenes was never easy, and Zain was no exception. He ended up providing a lot of comic relief in Beasts of War, and was a character I really enjoyed writing. His death at the very end of the series, just when it seemed everything might be all right, was a bit heartbreaking, though I do think that, for a lot of reasons, it was necessary.

Get your copies of

Beasts of Prey

Beasts of Ruin

Beasts of War

Penguin Teen