Richelle Mead talked to Page Views about the movie, The Weinstein Company and the current vampire market!
PAGE VIEWS: Your series has become a cult classic for YA and fantasy readers, to say nothing of the global reach of the series. When you were writing “Vampire Academy,” did you ever think it would have this kind of scope and popularity?
RICHELLE MEAD: No, I really didn’t. At the time I was writing it, I’d also sold a couple of book series for adults, and I thought that was where the main focus of my career would end up going. “Vampire Academy” started off as a side project for me, almost as an experiment. I’d been a teacher before getting published and really enjoyed being around adolescents, so I thought it’d be fun to work in something for that age range. I had no idea it would take off like it did—or attract people of all ages!
PV: But the main point of conversation is the upcoming movie of the same title. When you were penning “Vampire Academy,” did you ever hope it would be translated into a big-screen blockbuster produced by none other than Harvey and Bob Weinstein?
RM: Honestly, my goal while writing it was just getting the book done and finding readers for it! Scenes often play out cinematically in my head, but I really wasn’t thinking much about movies at that point—or even after the series became successful. The book-to-movie business is a tricky one, and lots of authors sell their options to Hollywood and never see any results. Things can fall apart at any point in the process. So, I always had a painfully realistic approach to things and really didn’t believe it was happening until filming began.
PV: Did you have the chance to meet with the Weinstein brothers? Why do you think the entertainment moguls were drawn to your story in a media sphere full-to-bursting with other vampire series, both on the big screen and in television?
RM: I haven’t met the Weinstein brothers personally, but working with their company has been a really wonderful experience. My understanding is that Harvey’s daughters are fans of the books, which was a big draw for them initially. We also have so much talent working on the project—particularly director Mark Waters and screenwriter Daniel Waters—that I think their involvement really made people take notice and realize this wasn’t your typical supernatural project.
PV: The film is directed by Mark Waters (“Mean Girls,” “Freaky Friday”), a filmmaker known for his comedic direction. Do you see your series as a comedy, or one with comedic elements only? The first book is pretty dark.
RM: The book’s not a comedy, and the movie certainly isn’t either. But the humor is definitely there. And that humor is very important to me in the series. When I set out to write it, I wanted a story that would be gripping and heartbreaking but still have attitude and funny moments that border on absurd. I have a twisted sense of humor, and the characters do too. I think mixing light and dark elements like that makes for a more realistic story and keeps readers on edge too—which I like. They might be laughing with the characters one moment, only to be shocked by some drastic turn of events in the next.
PV: Are you happy with how the film has turned out? Have you seen the final cut?
RM: I’m extremely happy with it, in all aspects. Both director Mark Waters and screenwriter Daniel Waters really understood the tone I was going for—that dark, action-packed story spliced with bits of humor—and managed to balance all those elements perfectly. I’m also really thrilled with the cast. Fans will particularly be pleased to know that almost every major scene in the book gets shown in some way.
PV: What would you say to critics who say the market is already ossified with vampires and the undead?
RM: I’d say people have been saying that for ages, and yet, vampires keep holding our fascination. Bram Stoker, Nosferatu, Bela Lugosi, Dark Shadows, Anne Rice, Buffy…it goes on and on. This recent spike in popularity is nothing new. The vampire mythos keeps evolving and discovering new takes on the material.
PV: What has been your role in the production of the movie? What’s it like seeing something you’ve imagined being played out in real life? Did you have any hand in the casting, or other parts of the film?
RM: My role has mostly been advisory, which I’m fine with (and which is pretty normal for authors in book-to-movie adaptations). I didn’t do any casting, screenwriting, etc. Movies and books are different mediums, and they require different mindsets. Director Mark Waters is a fan of the books and extremely respectful of the material. He wasn’t afraid to fact-check with me, and he would also ask if certain decisions of his might affect future books, which is a courtesy not many authors get.
PV: While the series is billed as YA novels, the story – about Rose Hathaway, dhampir (a child of a human and a vampire) who enters into an illicit affair with her instructor – is much less tame then, say, the storyline of the “Twilight “series, which has often been touted as teaching readers abstinence until marriage. Is that something that will be portrayed in the movies, as well as Lissa’s (Lucy Fry) self-mutilation?
Yes, both the illicit romance and self-mutilation are in there, and both are treated as serious subjects with consequences. It was never my intent to glamorize either of them, and I think writers shouldn’t be afraid to approach edgy topics, particularly when you’re examining all aspects of them.
PV: Fans are always anxious when a series they love comes to the big screen. Do you think your fans will be happy with the end product?
RM: I think most will be happy with it. It really is a true adaptation, and the movie-makers did a great job of keeping a lot of fan-favorite scenes in there, which are amazing to see on the big screen. Probably those who will be a little disappointed are fans whose favorite scenes were cut, but seeing as most of the original material was indeed left in there, I don’t think fans have too much to worry about.
Source: Page Views