Skip to main content

Blog

November 20, 2009

Talking with Melissa de la Cruz

Posted by webmaster
Today's guest blogger is 15-year-old Mary Sturgis from Chicago, IL. Last month, she attended a book signing for Melissa de la Cruz's THE VAN ALEN LEGACY, and was able to catch up with the author afterwards for an interview, which she was kind enough to share with Teenreads.com. Over some sushi, they discussed inspiration behind the series, favorite characters, fictional love interests, and what lies ahead for Schuyler and the Blue Bloods gang. You can read the original interview on Mary's YA book blog, http://officiallymrs.blogspot.com/. And be sure to check out Mary's previous post about meeting Ally Carter, here.


Recently, I was fortunate enough to attend a book signing with Melissa De La Cruz for the latest installment of her Blue Bloods series, THE VAN ALEN LEGACY. Walking in, I was surprised to see that it wasn't very crowded, but with an audience that size, it was really nice to sit around and chat with other fans beforehand --- some were in costume, some had traveled from a high school in Indiana, and some were just random people who were as excited to meet the author as I was. Melissa showed up wearing a gorgeous pair of shoes that was definitely not made for walking, and we all got the chance to discuss her books. Afterwards, we all had our copies signed and everyone went on their merry way. I, however, stayed behind to interview her!

Before you start reading this, you may want to read my review of the Blue Bloods series and the ten things that I loved about Melissa's newest book, THE VAN ALEN LEGACY. Also, if you have not read it yet, this interview does contain spoilers!


Which one of your characters do you relate to the most?

I like all of them because they are all a part of my personality. Schuyler definitely has a lot of my alienation and feelings of isolation when I was that age. Just the whole scene with her going to a dance with Oliver and everyone is holding a long-stemmed rose, but she has a corsage --- I'd always felt like I went to this school with all of these social events, but I would be so out of it! I would be doing or wearing all the the wrong things. When I went to prom, I thought everyone would be wearing big satin ball gowns, so I wore one. But, I went to this big private school and everyone thought that prom was this ridiculous notion, so all the cool girls were wearing sweaters and skirts! And you know, once again, fail! So I definitely wanted to write a character with that kind of experience.

I think a lot of people feel like that. My school definitely had a lot of cliques, and it was an all-girls school with only 39 students in my class --- half of them were all good friends and they all came from families that had known each other forever. It just seemed like they were a part of this club I was just didn't belong to. I thought that Schuyler could be that kind of a character, who went to that kind of school. It is supposed to be a great experience going to these schools, but when your not a part of this club, it is very difficult.

Mimi is the one I enjoy the most because she is so fun and bitchy. I have always loved those kinds of characters. She is probably most like me when I was in college. People used to call me The Queen, which stood for "The Queen Bee." I always thought that was funny! People said I was always so bossy and that I always told people what to do and I was like, Oh, no! So there is a lot of me that is always Mimi. And I sympathize with her because Schuyler is the rebel who is going to shake up all the Blue Bloods and Mimi is kind of the one who is trying to keep them together.

Bliss has grown on me. She has the hardest story line to deal with, being the devil's child and all. Bliss is getting her own series, with the werewolves, so that will be fun.

What is up next for Schuyler and the gang?

Schuyler and Jack are kind of together, but there are new obstacles in what they find. Are they finding safety and shelter, or did they just walk into some kind of dangerous situation at the end of the book? Mimi is trying to keep it together. Oliver is still around so they all kind of have to work together, and there will be new characters and new dangers. And then we are going to find out about Allegra and what she was like as a teen. A lot of the story takes place in the 1590s so part of it is more of a historical Renaissance novel, which I am scared to write.

If you could pick one character from the Blue Bloods series to be real, who would it be?

Just one!?! They are all so great! That’s really hard. I think I'd pick Schuyler, because it would be really cool to hang out with her. Go to a goth club and stuff!

If you could be one character from Blue Bloods, who would it be?

I don’t want to be any of them because all of their lives are so difficult and fraught with danger. And drama. I would rather be a cool socialite who didn’t know what was happening --- I don’t want to save the world.

The vampires in your book have a completely different spin! How did you come up with the idea for the books? Why did you choose to have them be wealthy NY socialites?

I wanted to combine things that I knew firsthand. I covered that kind of world when I worked as a reporter. I once wrote an article on private jets and I asked things like, How do you use your private jet? and, What do you put on your private jet? I was fascinated by that kind of world and wanted to use all of this material I had.

Were there any particular books that the Blue Bloods series was either based on or influenced by?

I think of the Blue Bloods books as Harry Potter mixed with Sex and the City. The Harry Potter books brought back the pleasure of reading, and New York was such a big influence. So, I see the series as a sexier, hotter Harry Potter.

In THE VAN ALEN LEGACY, Schuyler and the gang travel all around the world. How many of these countries/cities have you been to?

I've been to all of them, actually! I have a friend in Buenos Aires and we went to Rio for a weekend. I've also been to Venice, and Paris is just awesome. I don't get to go there often enough. It's fun, because when I write my books, I want to not only talk about the places I have have been, but also also give myself an excuse to go to somewhere new. I want to go to Shanghai and put that in one of the books. I want to do a city in Asia.

One of my favorite parts about THE VAN ALEN LEGACY and the Blue Bloods books it the fact that you fit your stories into history, particularly American history, and Biblical stories. How did you come up with this idea?

One of my most vivid memories is of my high school history teacher, who was great. World History and Roman history was one of her specialties and she really brought that world to life. As an immigrant, you don’t take American History for granted too much. And I always loved the stories from Christian mythology --- the angels and stuff.

Romance is a huge part of the Blue Bloods books, and therefore, it is littered with steamy and/or spicy guys. If you could pick one guy in the book for yourself, who would it be?

It's funny, because Oliver and Jack are both similar to my husband. I kind of split his personality in two. That’s why I can’t chose! But they are both their own person. Oliver is a little bit based on my best friend from college, and Jack is based on the hot, unattainable guy that you always wanted.

At this point in the interview, we whipped out the sushi. Yum!

Another thing I really enjoyed, about THE VAN ALEN LEGACY especially, is that even though these characters have lived before, there is still a level of teen angst. How do you find this balance?

I wanted them to be modern teenagers with all the relateable problems and the stuff that I went through; but, I also wanted to give them this layer of having lived for centuries and knowing more than there is. It’s like when you say someone is an “old soul,” they have more maturity. I just thought it would be cool that while they are growing into adolescence, they also have this other thing, changing from human to vampire with all of those memories. It was fun because it gave them more depth. With Mimi, you think she is just some stupid socialite, but they it turns out that she is a *butt*-kicking warrior.

How do you get the ideas for your characters? Are any of them based on people you know?

Some of them are. Oliver and Jack, as I said before, are my husband and my friends from college. Bliss is somewhat based on of one of my guy friends from Texas --- I just turned him into a girl. He has a big personality and all of these fun stories about him growing up in Huston and driving his dad’s Cadillac. I am fascinated by all of these people who were popular in high school because I wasn’t, and I wanted to find out what that was like. As a writer I think that I am fascinated by people and their stories.

Then we had a random tangent about goth clubs. It was entertaining. And my dad showed up. It was mortifying.

How did your first book get published? What are some things that surprised you about the publishing and editing process?

My first book was published when I was 27, THE CAT'S MEOW. I had been trying to get published for six years. I was writing a column with the same name about socialites. When I turned in my first draft, they said that it had no plot, and I had to rewrite it. I quit my job, worked on it for three months and pulled it together. In the beginning I was very naive about sales. I just thought that if you had written a good book, it deserved to be published. But the longer I am in the industry, I realize that you have to write stuff people want to read!

What is your full name?
Melissa Anne De La Cruz

Where did you grow up?
Manila, until I was thirteen, and then we moved to San Fransisco. Then I went to Columbia for college, and I lived in New York City for 15 years. And then we moved back to LA, but I still think of myself as a New Yorker.

Do you have any siblings?
Yup, I have two siblings.

What are some of your favorite books/ authors of the moment?
I didn’t read a lot of YA. I actually just started reading it again, and I just read KING DORK and books by Sara Zarr. I have to read books that are very different from mine so that they take me to a different place. I also read a lot of Julian Fellowes, and anything by Lionel Shriver or Kate Christensen.

What was your favorite and least favorite part about being a teenager?

My favorite part was not having to worry about bills. Having all this time for my art. I just remember having no responsibilities and having all this time. My least favorite part was not having a whole lot of confidence. I think you kind of grow into yourself. Some people are very confident, but a lot of us are figuring out who we are and if we like who we are. I love being thirty. I think 13 Going on 30 had it right on.

If you could live anywhere in the world, where would it be?

I like LA. We live between LA and NYC, so we really like where we are.

What is your favorite color?

Fuchsia! I have always like Fuchsia since I was a teen. I like the way it is spelled. I like the F. I like the hot pink. I used to have a lot of Fuchsia outfits. Kinda frightening….

If you were trapped on an island and you could only bring one person and three items with you, who and what would they be?

I would like to bring my husband and my daughter. I can't bring one without the other. 1) A lot books. So maybe a kindle. 2) Something to eat. Asian food. It would have to be sushi or Ramen noodles. 3) A toy for Maddy, my three year old.

Edward of Jacob?
Edward.

Gale or Peeta?
I can’t decide!! I would say Peeta but then I feel bad for Gale! I guess when it comes down to it, Peeta.

What is your favorite movie/tv show/ music of the moment?

I watched Mulan Rouge five times in the theatre. I love "Battlestar Galactica." I love '80s music. The Adventureland soundtrack is pretty much my ipod. I really like dance music. Techno and remixes.



And probably my favorite question of the evening: If the world were being invaded by aliens and you just won five million dollars in the lottery, what would you do with it?

Oh, so we are going to die?

It’s a distinct possibility at this point.

How long do we have?

Um.. Let’s say a week.

(In a very cheerful voice, considering we are talking about our own impending doom) Oh, Okay. Well, I would probably go on a big shopping trip in Paris. A lot of couture. Go to all of the wonderful restaurants. Stay at the Ritz. One million a day! Throw a lot of parties.


Thank you so much for doing this interview with me, Melissa!! I had such a fun time with you! You can learn more about Melissa and her books by looking at her website, following her on twitter, or reading my review of THE VAN ALEN LEGACY and the Blue Bloods books.


-- Mary Sturgis