YA author Melissa de la Cruz has just released her latest installment of her popular Blue Bloods series, Bloody Valentine. RT’s Kate Girard says, “This anthology is an excellent addition to a series that’s like Gossip Girl meets Twilight with a twist!” Today the author sits down to chat about what fans can expect from Bloody Valentine, her new adult series and what’s next for these fan-faves. And don’t miss your own chance to win Bloody Valentine at the end of the interview!
RT BOOK REVIEWS: The newest addition to your popular Blue Bloods series is the short story collection Bloody Valentine that looks at love and relationships in three short stories. What are you most excited about adding to your universe with these tales?
Melissa de la Cruz: I was most excited about being able to bring the romances to the forefront, the love stories have always been a huge part of Blue Bloods, but they’re not the main focus really. When I first drafted the series as a whole, it was about the story of the vampires—here they are in the twenty-first century, do they still have a place in this world. So it was fun to just delve into the love stories for a bit and really explore them. It was gratifying to see Oliver find a way to heal, to see Schuyler’s parents fall in love, and to have Schuyler and Jack truly show how devoted they are to each other.
RT: What was it like writing about Allegra as a high school student?
MdlC: It was really fun, it was great to see her young and spirited and full of life and not the comatose sleeping beauty or the enigmatic saintly figure she is in Schuyler's dreams or the sad older woman when she finally wakes up.
RT: In "Ring of Fire" Oliver comes to Jack and Schuyler's wedding despite his past problems with the couple. Will bygones be bygones and can we expect Oliver and Jack to ever be friends?
MdlC: I think they are friends already in a way. Definitely in Van Alen Legacy they had an understanding and a respect for each other that wasn't there before. I think for Jack, he never even noticed Oliver, he just was irrelevant to him, since Ollie was just a human conduit and Jack is a mighty vampire. But when Oliver performed that great act of bravery in Van Alen Legacy to help Sky and Jack escape, and then had the courage to let go of Schuyler, I think Jack saw him in a new light. As for Oliver, he's always resented Jack in high school, as the outsider being a bit jealous of the popular kid, but as far as Schuyler is concerned, he also thought of Jack as irrelevant--it didn't matter who else was in love with Schuyler, as Oliver writes in Revelations, "I'll be there waiting for her." In Bloody Valentine they do become friends of a kind, I don't think they'll ever be close, but I think there is the possibility of a deeper friendship between them.
RT: In "Always Something There to Remind Me," readers finally get more of the story about Schuyler's mother Allegra Van Alen and her father Bendix (aka Stephen). Did you have this part of their relationship in your head before you sat down to work on the collection and, will there be more of the Allegra-Bendix-Charles triangle in future works?
MdlC: Oh definitely, especially since in “Ring of Fire”, she goes back to Charles. And we all know Schuyler was born, so Allegra had to go back to Bendix at some point. When I was writing Keys to the Repository I had to make some decisions about how they met, I knew a little of their history but I kept some things open, and it made sense to me that they first met in high school, and then they meet again when they're a little older in San Francisco. I always knew Schuyler's father was popular and sporty and that Allegra was similar, I wanted her parents to be very different from her. What would her life had been like if they had been around to raise her? Would she have been so shy? I liked having the contrast.
RT: What moment in “Ring of Fire” do you think best describes Jack and Schuyler's relationship?
MdlC: Definitely the moment when she has to stop loving him because he asked her to trust him, it's the hardest thing she ever has to do, and she has to do it. It's about total trust, and they have that, so it was great to see it and to write it. Also I think when Jack roars "LET THEM DIE!" And for a moment you believe that he might really be evil is pretty great, because that's the thing with Jack. He's a Dark Angel, he's the Angel of Destruction, an angel of the Apocalypse. He might actually mean it, we don't know, but we trust that he's doing the right thing. At least we hope so.
RT: Across the Internet your fans are participating the in the heated Blue Bloods debate: Team Oliver verses Team Jack. When you started the Blue Bloods series, did you intend for Jack and Schuyler to get together or did their relationship evolve unexpectedly over the course of the series?
MdlC: Everything's been planned from the beginning. I do fall in love with Oliver or Jack more in the course of writing a particular book. Revelations was all about Oliver and Misguided Angel all about Jack. When I wrote Van Alen Legacy I loved them both so much it was hard to choose, so I had Oliver choose for everyone. :)
But I've known the ending for years, since 2003 when I started writing it, so I'm just working my way toward it.
RT: In "Just Another Night in Suck City," readers get a glimpse into Oliver’s head and heart as he struggles with the aftermath of his failed romance with Schuyler. Can you give us a hint about what is in store for Oliver outside of Bloody Valentine?
MdlC: Oh that would spoil things too much. :)
RT: Freya, a character that appears in your new adult series Witches of East End also plays a part in "Just Another Night in Suck City.” How does this adult series differ from your YA works?
MdlC: It's not set in high school, it's set in a small town and it's about more "grown-up" problems, in that there's a little about politics, jobs, etc. But those are very superficial differences. In the end Withces is very much like Blue Bloods, it's about a broken family, about the mysteries of the past, there's a tragic romance in it, and lots of humor and fun. My editor calls it "As delicious as drinking champagne in bed." I love that! It's a fun, fast read, and I fell in love with the witches like I did with my vampires.
RT: Okay, let’s talk Blue Bloods series. At the end of book five, Misguided Angel, it seems like there is some hope for Mimi and Kingsley. What do you think is Mimi’s biggest strength and biggest weakness when it comes to her relationship with Kinglsey?
MdlC: I think on the whole Mimi's strength is her iron resolve not to let the vampires fall, she's in charge of the coven, and it's her duty to lead them now that everyone is gone. Her weakness has always been her selfishness, and I think that plays into her relationship with Kingsley as well. I believe she loves him, but does she want the best for him? Or is she just thinking of herself and her misery? Would it be good for everyone if he came back? Or only for her?
RT: You’ve said that Oliver was inspired by a college friend. A) Does that friend know that he was the inspiration for Schuyler’s familiar and B) how does he feel about Oliver’s progression over the series? Are any other characters inspired by real life people?
MdlC: Sadly my former best friend and I are no longer in contact. We had a falling out right before I was first published, almost sixteen years ago, so he never even knew me as a published writer, what my life has been like since. We bumped into each other in New York a few years ago and had a weepy, boozy, reunion and while we are no longer friends, at least we ended on good terms. When I had my daughter four years ago he sent me a really nice note. So I don’t know if he knows he inspired Oliver, certainly if he read the book he would recognize many things about our friendship—we used to go to his club called the Bank together—and writing Oliver was maybe a way to keep him close to me for a while since I missed him for such a long time. But Oliver took on a life on his own and while his physical looks and the way he acts are very much like my friend’s, Oliver is his own person. Bliss was inspired by another friend, with whom I’m still very close friends with, I based her life on his life in Texas, and his sister was a popular cheerleader, and I was so fascinated by his stories of Houston I worked them into the book. Again, it’s fun to take certain things from your own life, but in the end, the characters and the story have to stand on its own. So it’s not a literal translation at all, it’s more a jumping off point.
RT: I heard that the characters in Witches of East End will be joined by some familiar faces from the Blue Blood series. Can you reveal which characters will make the crossover into adult fiction with you?
MdlC: No it would spoil it too much – I don’t want to ruin the surprise.
RT: Coming next October we'll see more Blue Blood action with the series sixth and the graphic novel adaptation both being released. What is something that surprised you about working on these two projects?
MdlC: Not sure what that means – I am such a planner I don’t get surprised easily, and Lost in Time was planned out in my head five years ago while I was still pregnant with my daughter. I remember clearly when I had the idea for that storyline. I guess what surprises me is how fresh it all is in my mind even after all these years. For the graphic novel, it was so great to see the first book again through a new lens. The pages I’ve seen are absolutely gorgeous, but that is no surprise since my editor, who picked the artist with me, has such a great eye, and he has created beautiful books for the Hyperion graphic novel line.
RT: If we promise not to tell, do you have one character that you would love to spend an afternoon with?
MdlC: I always think Mimi would be fun to go shopping with, except she would make passive-aggressive comments if anything looked too good on me! LOL!
RT BOOK REVIEWS: And because ‘tis the season, we have to ask. Are you pro-Valentines Day or against it and what would be your perfect way to spend the day?
Melissa de la Cruz: I love Valentine’s Day, I never thought of it as just a couples holiday since growing up my family celebrated it as a family and my parents always got us kids gifts on Valentine’s Day and we all went out to a fancy dinner. And when I was in college my friends and I would give each other books we found inspiring and so I always had someone to celebrate it with, so I never thought of it as an exclusionary holiday, since my family and friends always had a great attitude about it, I never felt left out really. And I thought all the couples were so corny, you know? I always like the alternative, the alterna-V-D-day. When I had boyfriends it was nice to have someone to spend it with, but again, I didn’t feel like such a loser if I didn’t. It is fun now with my husband, who was my boyfriend for six years before we got married. Our first Valentine’s Day he showed up at my office and delivered a dozen roses, and he wore this vintage delivery shirt with “Mike” on it, and it was so adorable. He was in grad school and he couldn’t afford the expensive florist-plus-delivery thing so he bought them from a deli and delivered them himself. It was awesome, cutest delivery man ever! Over the years while I still had a day job on Valentine’s Day I remember all those triumphant walks back to my desk with my flowers. It’s always nice, but there’s this thing we always say to each other, which is sort of a joke but not really “No flowers on the inside, no flowers on the outside” which means, if you’re not being nice to each other, no amount of flowers can make up for that. It’s not the flowers that count.
GIVEAWAY ALERT: Four lucky winners will receive their own copy of Bloody Valentine. To enter leave a comment about your best or worst Valentine’s Day or email your comment here with your US mailing address and the subject line “Melissa de la Cruz’s Bloody Valentine giveaway”. The winners will be announced on Monday, February 28th.
BLOG UPDATE 2/28/2011: And the winners are ... Not gonna tell, Anonymous . . . ,Shelli H. and Sheryl.B.