After writing 12 other books, local author Shannon Hale is releasing her first sequel, Princess Academy: Palace of Stone. It's the long-awaited continuation of her Newbery-Award-winning Princess Academy book series, which has also made buzz at the bookstores and given her a legion of local readers.

Hale wrote Princess Academy seven years ago and hesitated to revisit the story. "I was afraid that anything I would write couldn't measure up," Hale says. But then inspiration struck. She stopped worrying and focused on the story she wanted to tell.

"A new idea occurred to me and it was so compelling that I had to write it out. There were definitely challenges, but I knew the characters so well and the setting so well that it felt like returning home," she says.

The new journey with familiar characters was satisfying but the sequel to her most popular book has put some pressure on Hale. "When the advanced copies went out to reviewers I had a panic attack," she says. "These things keep happening where I realize I really am a lot more anxious about this work than most others."

Hale felt equally uncertain when she wrote Princess Academy because the plot line wasn't as sweeping or complex as her previous books. "It felt like a smaller book to me. It was a more intimate story and I was sure everyone would be disappointed," she says. 

"It was then 10 times more successful than any other book I've written. I can never tell how these books will be received. I just have to trust that if I like the story, my fans will," she says.

If Hale enjoying her books is any indication of how well her fans will like her latest book, they should be in for a treat. Hale is delighted with the sequel. "Writing it was very exciting and the ending is so satisfying to me. It is so powerful and true to the characters," she says. 

Hale is looking forward to the release of the book and seeing her fans during an upcoming tour. Her appearances around Salt Lake are listed below:

Tuesday, Aug. 21 at 7 p.m.
The King's English Bookshop
1511 South 1500 East, SLC 

Friday, Aug. 24 from 5:30 p.m.–7 p.m.
Deseret Book Flagship Store
45 W. South Temple

Saturday, Aug. 25

Deseret Book, 135 N. 545 West, West Bountiful
10:30 a.m.–12 p.m.

Deseret Book, 1110 Fort Union Blvd., Midvale
2 p.m.–3:30 p.m.

Deseret Book, 1076 S. 750 East, Orem
5:30–7 p.m. 

Tuesday, Sept. 18 from 7–8 p.m.
Barnes and Noble University Crossings Plaza
300 East 1300 South (Orem)