Today I'm thrilled to welcome Melissa de la Cruz! Melissa stopped by to talk about The Van Alen Legacy (Blue Bloods, Book 4) which releases October 6th 2009.
Melissa de la Cruz is the New York Times and USA Today best-selling author of many critically acclaimed and award-winning novels for teens including The Au Pairs series, the Blue Bloods series, the Ashleys series, the Angels on Sunset Boulevard series and the semi-autobiographical novel Fresh off the Boat.
Her books for adults include the novel Cat’s Meow, the anthology Girls Who Like Boys Who Like Boys and the tongue-in-chic handbooks How to Become Famous in Two Weeks or Less and The Fashionista Files: Adventures in Four-inch heels and Faux-Pas.
The third book in the Blue Bloods series, Revelations, left us reeling from all the delicious plot twists and turns-- startling secrets revealed about Bliss, a gory battle in Rio de Janeiro, and of course Schuyler’s painful struggle between duty, passion, love and freedom. Whew! Can you give us a little teaser for the exciting fourth installment, The Van Alen Legacy?
In Van Alen Legacy, Schuyler is a fugitive from justice-the Conclave doesn't believe her version of the events in Rio, so she and Oliver are on the run. They've been running for year, and they're tired and overwhelmed, and they decide they have to seek a safe haven in the European Conclave, by crashing the last grand Bal de Vampires at the Hotel Lambert. Meanwhile, Mimi is tracking down Silver Bloods with Kingsley Martin, and Bliss is trying to fight her most dangerous enemy--herself. It's a big, fun, roller coaster ride of emotion and action!
Do you have a clear outline for how you want the Blue Bloods series to turn out, or are you letting the creative muse guide you as you tackle each new book?
I have a pretty clear outline, I always had a big idea back then of where I wanted to go with this series. I am a huge fan of big fantasy epics, and part of the inspiration came from reading Stephen King's Dark Tower books, which I love. But I did feel a bit let down by the end, which leaves the story unresolved. I swore that if I ever had a chance to write a big fantasy epic, I would know exactly how it ends and would build up to it. So that's what I'm trying to do. Whenever I do a new book I sketch a little more into the outlines for the books that come after. So I know where I'm headed. All that being said, each book is an adventure for me because even though I know where the story is going, I don't always know HOW I'm going to get there.
What type of feedback do you get from fans of your books? Is there an overwhelming consensus as to whether Schuyler should end up with Ollie or Jack?
From what I can garner, they seem fine for either one, although there are very vocal proponents of either camp. The fan feedback has been amazing - I am humbled and flattered by their devotion to the story, and I love meting my readers. It's like meeting me when I was younger, except they are much, much cooler.
The beautiful cover for the Van Alen Legacy has caused a lot of speculation with the Eifel Tower in the background and the veiled bride who may or may not be Mimi. Is there any insight into the cover that you are able to offer at this point?
Well I can say some of the story is set in Paris. Hee! I think I'll keep the mystery for a while longer as to who the bride is supposed to be.
From the diverse group of girls who work as Nannies in the Au Pairs, to the New York City teens who with a secret heritage in Blue Bloods, you’ve written a number of successful series for middle grade and young adult fiction. Out of all of them, is there one in particular that has been your favorite to write? And within that series, is there a character you have always felt especially connected to?
I don't think it's a surprise that Blue Bloods is by far my favorite series to write. I feel like I was *made* to write it, that every book I'd ever read and every class I'd ever taken and everyone I've ever met has in some way contributed to the story. Duchesne is very much based on my high school experience, Oliver was based on my best friend in college, and all the art history and the fabulous settings came from my education (I was an art history major) and my former life as a journalist in New York covering the glittery social scene. Mimi has always been my favorite character to write, I love giving her the bitchy lines. But I feel connected to all of them--I feel a huge sympathy for Bliss since she has such a huge burden, and I feel so protective of Schuyler, she is the character who was most like me in high school, the isolation and the alienation. I love Jack, I adore Oliver, I am so fond of Dylan--what can I say? I love them all!
What is the biggest surprise you’ve experienced since becoming a published author?
Interesting question. I don't know if I've come against many surprises - I always expected I would be an author, I worked really hard to get where I am, I know it was certainly the biggest RELIEF when I got that first call saying a publisher wanted to buy my book. I was 27, and a computer consultant, and I had written two novels and one non-fiction proposal that didn't sell and I really felt like time was running out for me. I almost gave up, I was so bitter. But then, I found an agent who loved my third novel and she found a publisher to buy it. From then, I felt like with that one YES I could go on to do much more.
Can you describe to us what a typical writing day is like for you and how you manage to find balance with writing and having a family?
I write during the day when my daughter is in school, I usually keep to a 9-5 schedule although the real writing usually happens between 10-1. After lunch, it's hard to get back into it. So sometimes lunch is at 2pm or 3pm. That's if the deadline still looms far away. If the deadline is within sight - like a month away, I usually try to bang out at least 2000 words a day, in a month that means the goal is to get to a draft of about 60,000 words. But the real work comes in the re-writing, and that's when the heavy thinking comes in. Usually I do disappear from my friends' lives for about three months when I write a book and disappear from my family's life for a month before deadline. It's hard on everyone, including me, but that's the way it goes. What I try to do is not work on the weekends so we have intense family time, and during the weeks when I'm not writing, I usually try to take a month off between books now that my schedule allows it, that month is filled with lots of Mommy time.
What were you like as a teen and do you pull from your own experiences when writing your books?
I was awkward and shy and also very goofy. One of my dear friends said at heart, I am most like Garth from Wayne's World. You have to get to know me pretty well for me to be Garth around you. But I am Garth. I'm kind of the goofy sidekick. When I was a teen I went through my punk rock phase with pink hair, my goth phase with my white Japanese face paint and my super preppie phase which meant I bought all my clothes from the Gap instead of from thriftstores. And then I had a bad perm. Oof. I went to this all-girls private school which I loathed but have come to appreciate at least for all the material and the education I got from there.
On your website it states that we can expect possibly ten books all together in the Blue Bloods series, with a spinoff being introduced in The Van Alen Legacy entitled Wolf Pact. Can you tell us more about Wolf Pact and any other upcoming projects?
Yup, I am shooting for ten Blue Bloods books, and I have a vague idea of how many Wolf Pact books there will be. And I do have a lot of new projects but I can't reveal them yet, but stay tuned I think we will be able to make an announcement in a month or so.
Is there anything else you would like to add?
Thanks for the fun interview! And I hope you enjoy Van Alen Legacy. Let me know what you think!
Waiting on Wednesday: Iron Gold by Pierce Brown
13 minutes ago