Wednesday, July 23, 2008
Interview with Melissa de la Cruz!
Melissa de la Cruz is the amazing author of the Blue Bloods series, the Ashley's series, the Au Pairs series, and a few adult books mixed in along the way. She has also written fashion articles for a wide variety of magazines. She now lives in New York and Los Angeles with her husband and daughter.
How did you come up with the idea for the Blue Bloods series? They are unlike many of the other vampire books that are on the market nowadays.
I was on the web and stumbled upon a site that listed all the descendants of the Mayflower passengers--it listed a lot of prominent Americans, like the Roosevelts and the Bushes, but there were also surprising ones--like Oprah and Marilyn Monroe. And it got me to thinking--what if all these rich, prestigious Americans were that way for a reason? As in, what if their power came from immortality? What if they were vampires? And that's how Blue Bloods came to be.
I liked tying it into American history, and then halfway through writing the first book, I realized it tied into an even older story--I've always loved the story of Paradise Lost, of Lucifer and his angels being thrown out of heaven, and I incorporated that into my own story. As I was writing it, it didn't even feel like I was making it up, it felt as if I was excavating a story that was already there.
What are you working on right now?
Right now I'm working on the conclusion to Angels on Sunset Boulevard - I had planned for it to be a trilogy but I realized I needed to end the story now, and just make a nice big bang of an ending. The book is called THE STRIP, and it's really sexy and dark and creepy and I love writing it.
I'm also writing a new series called "GIRL" the first is GIRL STAYS IN THE PICTURE. This is very much like the Au Pairs, it's a fun, light series about three different girls who become friends and their adventures social-climbing across the globe.
Who are some of your favorite young adult authors?
My favorite YA authors growing up were S.E. Hinton, Francine Pascal, L.M. Montgomery and Louisa May Alcott. I also loved Gordon Korman. I'm sad to say I don't read as much YA as I used to--I can't read the genre I write in! But I do love Cecily Von Ziegesar, Lisi Harrison, Sherman Alexie, Annette Kurtis Clause and Diana Wynne Jones.
Was your idea of becoming a published author any different from what the actual process was like?
Interesting question! You know, when you start out, the DESIRE to be published is so great that it kind of takes over everything. I had no imagination beyond that. I did have great ambitions for myself, but they seemed so far-fetched. It's definitely better than what I expected, but I had a few hard knocks along the way. My first novel, Cat's Meow, which was for the adult market--my agent and my editor both left shortly after it was sold, so I was left with an editor who "inherited" me, which was a difficult transition as she didn't get the humor of the book. We bumped heads and the book was almost canceled! My career over before it began! But somehow I salvaged the relationship and the book went on to publication. I certainly didn't expect such a rocky road. However, I'm grateful for the valuable lesson. Never take anything for granted, especially in publishing.
Which character out of all of your books was the most challenging to write and why?
The most challenging character for me has always been Schuyler Van Alen from Blue Bloods. She's almost so close to me that it's a love/hate relationship that you have to yourself. I've given her a lot of the misery I experienced in high school, and a lot of sadness, which is hard to deal with at fifteen. Mimi is so much more fun to write--Mimi is totally based on myself as well--my nasty, funny, confident side. I have great affection for Mimi.
When did you first know you wanted to become a writer?
Ever since I was a kid--my parents bought me so many books as a kid. And on Sundays we went to the bookstore and I was allowed to buy as many books as I wanted. There was never a budget when it came to books. I think I was in first grade when I was conscious that writing was what I wanted to do. I've never really wanted to 'become' anything
else. And it's a wonderful experience--having your childhood dreams come true. It really is. It makes you feel like anything is possible in the world.
Which character from the Au Pairs series are you most like: Mara, Eliza, or Jacqui?
I'm most like Eliza, since my family kind of went through what hers did. My dad was an investment banker (although he did not embezzle!) and my family lost our fortune in my teens. And of course, I'm super-fashion-y. Mara is a little like me from when we were more humble--I relate to her awkward, small-town-ness. A lot of her discomfort in being in the Hamptons was mine--our first summer I felt like I never had the right bag or the right shoes.
If the Ashleys series could be made into a movie, who would your dream cast be?
Ooh I hate saying because I said I pictured Mary Kate Olsen as Schuyler once (and really it was her fashion sense and bedraggled sense of style that I was thinking of) and I read a couple of readers' blogs that said they almost gagged when they read that. And part of me was amused and part of me was offended too, because you know, Schuyler is my creation. But I do think that when you read a book, the characters become yours too. So I want everyone to have their own idea of what my characters look like.
What can you never leave your house without?
My sunglasses. Right now I have several in rotation: Dita, Chanel, Marc Jacobs, vintage Ted Lapidus. It's so sunny in L.A., you can't drive without them--the glare is blinding! I find I wear sunglasses even when it's cloudy here. When I was in college, I went through a phase where I wore sunglasses at night, indoors. I have pictures of me and my friends gathered in a bar, and there I am with my sunglasses. Thankfully my friends were kind enough to laugh at me to my face and not behind my back. But really, I didn't care. And later, when I was a fashion editor, and everyone wears sunglasses while watching the shows, I felt vindicated!
What is your advice for aspiring teen authors?
Never give up, and don't focus so much on getting published right now. Focus on your writing, read as much as you can, and LIVE as much as you can. Have a fun, exciting life that you can write about!
More about Melissa: