If you’re anything like us, curiosity about authors of your favourite books is something you just can’t escape! But never fear, Atom to the rescue…here’s Melissa de la Cruz talking about her series Blue Bloods, amongst other things.
Atom: Could you tell us a little bit about when you started writing fiction?
Melissa: I started writing stories at about the same time I started really loving books, about the age of eleven or so (which is funny because my younger readers tell me they are beginning to try their hand at writing because they were inspired to by reading Blue Bloods. I was exactly the same way as a kid. I think it was VC Andrews that did it for me.) I have always wanted to be a novelist. Always. I started and abandoned a huge number of novels in my teen years and I wrote my first complete novel at 22. I got an agent, but he wasn't able to sell it. I kept at it and sold my first published novel when I was 27. It was one of the happiest days of my life when I sold my novel, I really felt validated, and inspired. I thought 'wow, maybe I can really do this.'
Atom: What inspired you to write about vampires?
Melissa: Ever since I read Anne Rice's Lestat I have loved vampires. I read Lestat before I'd read Interview with the Vampire because they had a copy of Lestat in the library but not Interview. I love how tragic and beautiful and sexy they are, how cursed and lucky at the same time. On the one hand, they are immortal, on the other, they have drink blood (gross!). I've always found vampires fascinating. I love paranormal stories, I think ordinary life is so…ordinary and boring. I love escaping to another world, where everything is much more exciting and dangerous and romantic. In the real world I worry about my kid catching H1/N1 and there's nothing fun about that. But being in danger from a beautiful undead creature? Nothing could be more fun!
Atom: Where does the mythology for Blue Bloods come from?
Melissa: I was online and found a website that listed all the passengers of the Mayflower and their descendants. It was a remarkable list, almost a journey through American history – not only the Roosevelts and the Bushes, but also people like Marilyn Monroe and Oprah! I thought, what if the reason all these wealthy, influential people are wealthy and influential is because they were undead?
I also always loved the story of Paradise Lost and Lucifer's Fall and I wanted an origin story for my vampires, since none of the vampire books I'd ever read had one. They never explained how vampires came to be. I thought it would be cool to tie it in with a myth and legend that most people are aware of—so that it would be even more believable sounding. I get a lot of readers asking me where else they can find the vampire/fallen angel story – and I tell them, nowhere! I made it up!
Atom: Do you have a favourite character in the series?
Melissa: I really do love them all, but like children I love them equally but in different ways. I love Schuyler because I'm so protective of her, I love Jack because he's so tortured and brave, I love Oliver because he's so loyal, I love Bliss because she has become so strong and really grew as a character, I love Mimi because she's such wicked fun. I love Charles and Allegra because I think their story is the saddest of all, and I love sad stories.
Atom: We love how much fashion you manage to squeeze into your books – is your wardrobe as big as Mimi’s?!
Melissa: Ha! I wish. Actually, scarily, it is probably closer to Mimi's wardrobe than any other characters. I went through a phase when I was a fashion editor when I just had way too many clothes (I still do—but I'm trying to be better). I used to have several personal shoppers at all the big boutiques– crack dealers I used to call them. The white dress with the cut-out that Mimi wears to the Four Hundred Ball is Gucci from when Tom Ford was still designing it. I found it at a sample sale and bought it a few months after I wrote about it. I feel like it was destiny.
Atom: What do you love about writing YA fiction?
Melissa: I love that there are no rules, and that you can make things up, and that there's a lot of suspension of disbelief. Also YA fiction is set in a more idealized world I think, it's a lot more optimistic, a lot more hopeful. With adult fiction I feel that what makes a book "adult" is that there's a deep cynicism that's just intrinsic to it. Adult readers are more sceptical and less likely to accept a happy ending. Whereas when you're writing YA you are free to have your characters earn a happy ending. I think it's the reason a lot of adults read YA now. It brings you back to a more innocent time in your life. I don't mean that YA is saccharine – far from it – but the worldview of a teenager – someone who is just discovering the world – and not jaded by it –is a wonderful perspective to have and to write from.
Our big big thanks to Mel for agreeing to be interviewed :)
You can buy the first four books of the Blue Bloods series now (Blue Bloods, Masquerade, Revelations and The Van Alen Legacy) and Melissa's companion guide, Keys to the Repository, is out on 29th June.
The fifth Blue Bloods book, which is called Misguided Angel, will be out in October.