Talking to Tearaway, a New Zealand-base site, Richelle Mead explains why she chose to write, gives her impression on the movie and why she wrote about vampires.
I definitely have to plan out my stories in advance! I know some writers who can do amazing things on the spot, with no plan at all, but I’m not one of them. If I try that, I get lost, so I like to make a really detailed road map for myself and plan out each chapter. Knowing how the book ends helps me do a better job with its beginning. This is true for entire series as well. When I’m working on the first book in a series, I almost always know how things will wrap up in the last book.
On why she chose vampires:
Before I wrote Vampire Academy, I’d already started two adult series, one about demons and one about fairies. I needed a new paranormal creature to work with for my teen series, and vampires fit the bill, especially after I’d studied Eastern European folklore at college. I’d learned some great Romanian vampire myths that I liked, so I decided to try working them into a series. At the time this was happening, vampires hadn’t hit their current phase of popularity, so I had no idea what I was getting into. It was very lucky timing.
On if she had other ideas for Vampire Academy story:
The big parts of the series’ storyline stayed the same. This goes back to planning things in advance. I knew what all my big moments would be throughout the series, and I held true to those. A lot of the little details and subplots were filled in along the way and had some fluctuation, but overall, the last book in the VA series ended the way I’d expected it would when I sat down to write the first book.
On what made her start to write:
I didn’t need encouragement, so much as self-discipline and life experience. I’d wanted to be a storyteller my entire life, even from childhood, but it took many years for me to be able to have that patience to sit down and finish a substantial book. I also can’t emphasise the importance of experience and living life. So much of what goes into a book are little things—emotions and insights you pick up by being out in the world. I wrote Vampire Academy when I was thirty and couldn’t have created the same book when I was twenty.
On if the characters are based on real people:
No, I think writing people you know into your books is a good way to lose friends! If they don’t like the way the story goes, things could get ugly really quickly. Certainly, things my friends and family have done have helped inspire character actions in my books, but I’ve been careful not to write anyone specifically in.
On what makes a good story keep going:
I think it all goes back to having a plan. If you write a book and already know it’s part of a larger story in a series, it’s easier to make sure each of those successive books plays an important role and isn’t just there to capitalise on the first book’s popularity. I can often tell when I read the later books in a series if the author had planned for the story to go in that direction, and those always come across stronger to me than series where an author pulled out the ending at the last minute.
On her favourite own book:
My favorite books are always the big game changers in my series and often fall in the middle: Shadow Kiss, The Fiery Heart, and Succubus Dreams especially come to mind. When I plan my series, I often use the first book or two to establish the world, and then the big drama when things really go awry for characters happens in the middle. I love that, being able to turn the world upside down. Unfortunately, those are often some of the most heartbreaking moments in the series, which can be hard on readers. I get a lot of love and hate from those middle books—often in the same email!
On why she chose to write about Sydney:
There were a couple motivations at play. One was I wanted to look at the Moroi world through fresh eyes. Rose, in the Vampire Academy series, has grown up in this vampiric world and thinks it’s totally normal. When she’s our narrator, she doesn’t think twice about feeders or nighttime schedules. Sydney, as a human, has an outsider’s perspective and a completely different attitude. I think it’s useful for the reader to see the Moroi from both sets of eyes, and it really expands the world. Another reason I wanted to use Sydney was to practice writing with a different style of narration. Rose is very much act first, think later—which can be a lot of fun. But it’s also fun to delve into Sydney’s head, where she’s such a careful thinker who analyses her every action. And while a kickass heroine like Rose is inspiring and amazing to follow, I think that a lot of my readers have to act like Sydney in the real world, using brains more than brawn. I wanted to show that there was more than one way to be strong and that it doesn’t always involve fists.
On what she wanted to do as a child:
I actually wanted to be a writer when I was that age, so my ten-year-old self would hopefully be pretty pleased! My second choice job then was to be a teacher, which is what I did before I became a full-time writer. So, I feel very lucky to have been able to have both jobs in my life. Both are the kind of careers where you’re always working on something new and have to come in with a creative approach. That really appeals to me, and I love the different options I have every day with being an author. That being said, there’s also a complex business side to being an author, and it takes a lot of discipline since you’re often working on a book publisher’s schedule. I don’t think my ten-year-old-self ever had any idea that part of the job was coming! It can make things difficult at times, but there’s no other career I’d rather have right now.
On the movie:
The movie’s been a lot of fun, and overall, I’m really pleased with it. My role has mostly been advisory, which is pretty normal for authors. I’m a book expert, and the movie people are movie experts, so I’m happy letting them do their jobs. It’s great that they do consult with me, though, and I’ve been asked questions about costumes or if certain changes will affect future books. Some authors never get asked that, so I’m super grateful they bring my opinion in. Books and movies are very different mediums, so changes are inevitable, but we’re pretty lucky in that most changes that have been made are small and are for the sake of time or to make something more interesting on the screen. All the main plot points are still there. And I can’t say enough about how wonderful the cast is. They look like their characters, but more importantly, they really understand their characters. In fact, some of them have the same personalities in real life! It’s been amazing watching them bring these roles to life and see how much they really love being part of the movie.
Check it out here: Tearaway