Melissa grew up in Manila and moved to San Francisco with her family, where she graduated from The Convent of the Sacred Heart. She majored in art history and English at Columbia University. She has worked as a fashion and beauty editor and has written for many publications including The New York Times, Marie Claire, Harper’s Bazaar, Glamour, Cosmopolitan, Allure, The San Francisco Chronicle, McSweeney’s, Teen Vogue, CosmoGirl! and Seventeen. She has also appeared as an expert on fashion, trends and fame for CNN, E! and FoxNews. 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, and the Angels on Sunset Boulevard series .She now divides her time between New York and Los Angeles, where she lives in the Hollywood Hills with her husband and daughter. If you want to learn more about Melissa and her books, check out her website: http://www.melissa-delacruz.com/
1. Blue Bloods has a lot of interesting aspects. How did you come up with the many aspects?
I wanted to write an epic fantasy that capsulated a lot of my interests: art history, literature, world history, Paradise Lost, vampires, New York, fashion. I thought it would be fun to write about everything that interested me and as well as subjects in which I had a wealth of great material/research on hand (I used to cover the glittery scene in New York, one magazine assignment asked me to interview people about their private jets). In a way, Blue Bloods is the book I've always been itching to write all my life because so much of me, my life, my experiences, my interests are in the series. Although I don't know any vampires—my editor put that note in my bio as a tongue-in-cheek joke. You can't imagine how many emails I get from kids who want to know if I really know vampires. When I say no I feel like I'm the person telling them there is no Santa Claus.
2. The characters in The Blue Bloods series are so realistic. What is your process for developing characters?
Most of my characters come from an aspect of my personality, even the boys are part of me – they have to be to be real. I really try to root my story in reality as much as possible, especially the relationships, because I find it's the most important aspect of the story. They need to feel real, and they start out based on my life, friendships and romantic history, but then the characters have a life of their own, and their own voice and story that takes over.
3. You have been written both Contemporary and Fantasy. Which one do you like to write more? Also, does your writing process change over between genres?
I really enjoyed writing the chick-lit books but I felt a bit burnt out after awhile. I enjoy writing fantasy more because there are more opportunities to make up stuff and take your story someplace it's never been. It's just a lot more fun and more the real "me." I always tell my agent I'm a role-playing LOTR geek dressed up in fashionista clothing. I was a huge reader of fantasy and sci-fi in my youth.
4. What do you like most about writing for teens?
I love their enthusiasm and how deeply they get into the story. I was just like that when I was their age. I re-read books constantly, I cried every time Aragorn thinks Frodo is dead in Fellowship of the Ring. I don't think I've ever grown up either, so I really relate to my readers—I feel like I'm just one of them, and I'm writing books that I would have loved at their age. Adults should never condescend to teens, the teens are so much smarter than we are.
5. What are some of your favorite young adult books?
I absolutely loved The Outsiders and all of SE Hinton's books as a teen, they are huge influences. I also loved Madeleine L'Engle's Wrinkle in Time (who doesn't love Calvin and Meg). I wanted to be Jo March from Little Women (and I loved the sequel too – Little Men and Jo's Boys – I was and still am a big sequel reader). Sweet Valley High—I could recite the opening line right down to the lavaliers the twins wore! Right now there's so many – but I especially love Elizabeth Scott's Perfect You and Frank Portmann's King Dork.
6. How do you think writing for magazines, helped you became an author?
As a writer, you need to learn how to deal with deadlines and rejection, and working professionally with editors. I loved the magazine world and I'm so sad that the industry is failing. Magazines are ruthless – you sink or swim and it teaches you to be sharp and not to take things personally – like your piece not making it in. I would say 50 percent of everything I wrote for a magazine got "killed", which is normal. You develop a thick skin and good instincts for a story.
7. Is there anything that you would like to add?
Sure – Keys to the Repository comes out in May 2010! Lots of fun stuff about the Blue Bloods' world is revealed!
Thank you for the interview with Melissa & thank you to Melissa for sharing. It was fun to learn more about her and her writing. I hadn`t thought of how involved teens & tweens get in their YA books before and it so true.