Just for Fun
“You see how it is with us? You can’t fight it any more than I can. You’ve tried; you’ve done everything you can to kill it. But you can't kill my love for you.”
“There is no good and evil, only black and white. But either black or white on its own is boring, Jenny. If you mix them you get so many colors – so many colors . . .”
“You’re light, all right – like a flame to a moth. I told you once that you shouldn’t mess with forbidden things – I should have taken my own advice.”
“Nothing really dies as long as it’s not forgotten.”
English Transcript of an Interview for Portuguese Fans by Ana Luisa Neeves –
1 – There are a lot of people who know you for your «The Vampire Diaries» books, but what can you tell us about yourself and how you spend your days?
I hope that there are a lot of others, at least in the USA, who know me for many other books than TVD. I always wanted to be a writer, and “wrote” stories and poems in my head ever since I was a child. I loved fantasy, and began to write my first published book when I was in high school. I finished it in college and it was published while I was in graduate school. Since my parents didn’t think I could ever make a living as a writer I majored in both English and Psychology, and went to graduate school to become a teacher of children with special needs. My first two books were pure fantasy books (two-thirds of a trilogy I plan to finish: THE NIGHT OF THE SOLSTICE and HEART OF VALOR. They got great reviews but did not sell well. However, my next trilogy, THE VAMPIRE DIARIES, was an instant bestseller and after three years of teaching I became a full-time writer.
My days? Well, writing dominates them. I wake up (sometimes with my cheek pillowed on the keyboard) and I do my morning routine. I get a cup of coffee or tea, feed my dog (a three-year-old yellow lab named Victor) and before I even jump in the shower I start to write. Early mornings are my favorite time for writing: my mind is clear and my inner censor is shut off. I write and write—and sometimes when I look up it is after 12:00 noon! Then I hurry and shower and (if I’m going out to have lunch with a friend) get into whatever clothes fit the weather. Otherwise I just put on my comfy sweat clothes and take Victor for a walk. I sometimes do errands: shopping for groceries or items for my new house. I’m in the middle of moving, so these days I frequently have appointments with landscapers, decorators, contractors, electricians, etc. When I get back home I deal with business things like reading email, signing new contracts, paying bills, checking out the Internet news and so on. Then I sit down and try to write some more. If inspiration strikes, I can get a lot more writing done—if not, I do things like research for other books, chatting with friends, doing articles, contests, or other materials for my website, or sometimes even reading a book just for fun! I always take the last hours before dinner and call my father, sister, other relative or a close friend. Often my dinners are very informal—but Victor gets his at 6:30 on the dot. I only have one TV in my house, and I never watch anything live—only special things I’ve TIVOed or movies. Also there are no chairs in the TV room, only an elliptical trainer and a treadmill. Frequently, I invite a friend to exercise and watch a movie with me. You have to work out while you watch! This doesn’t stop us from having lots of fun.
Finally, at night, I go back to the computer. I think about things I’ve brainstormed with friends throughout the day, and I make sure to write them down. Then I answer emails I’ve earlier marked for reply, and sometimes read new ones. I also try to write on my current manuscript. Sometimes the mood takes me and I write until I fall asleep using the keyboard as a pillow.
2 – How and when did you discover your love for writing?
I didn’t discover it; I always just knew that I wanted to write books. I thought everyone who read me a book had written it. All through elementary school, junior high, and high school I wrote poems and stories, and I began two books. One, THE NIGHT OF THE SOLSTICE, came out to critical acclaim when I was in graduate school. The other, working name, THE PRINCESS WANDERER, has never been finished in novel form, but will be in the next few years. Although set in a backwards fairy tale universe, it is a story of forbidden love and the dangers and rewards of leaving your home country.
3 – Was it difficult to write your first book?
No. What was difficult, but ultimately incredibly valuable, was editing it. My editor wanted it cut by nearly a third of its length. (Although I had written it for YA, she wanted to place it as a middle-grade book.) Working with my writing taught me to be brutal with myself when necessary, to take my favorite scenes and chop them in half and to lose scenes that marked it as a book for older readers. It also taught me how to discipline my writing style so that most of my subsequent books were described as “page-turners.”
4 – How do you do research for your books?
Now I do it on the Internet—it’s far easier than what I used to do. For THE VAMPIRE DIARIES I read all non-fiction vampire lore in books that I could find, and also read DRACULA. (Remember this was in 1990, before many of my gentle readers were born.) I also read non-fiction about witches and various spells and superstitions like dumb suppers, tea leaf reading, palmistry, love magic and so on. I read about the Druids and their beliefs so that Bonnie could be an expert about them. I also bought many baby name books so that I would never be at a loss for the name of a new character.
Today, it is much different. I research as I write, using the World Wide Web as my goddess of all knowledge. I even hire qualified translators to translate foreign phrases for me, and I can afford to hire a researcher to produce “A Guide to Ireland” which focuses on the time of the Salem witch trials for my upcoming book ETERNITY, and “A Guide To Norse Mythology” for another book I plan to write: the sequel to THE FORBIDDEN GAME.
5 – Sorry but I have to ask you this: I read in a website that your favourite character is Damon, so why did you choose to end Elena with Stefan?
See my previous bewilderment about this question. Also, I must say this, that while Damon was a very amusing character to write, I have moved on after the series was so unexpectedly taken from me and have written a new sort of book, which I have the very great honor of saying has been accepted by Margaret Ferguson Books of Farrar Strauss and Giroux. Right now, my favorite character is in that book, THE LAST LULLABY, and is the melancholy lullaby singer Brionwy, daughter of Branwen.
6 – How did you feel when a ghostwriter wrote the «Stefan’s Diaries» series?
About the same as I felt when a ghostwriter took away THE VAMPIRE DIARIES series. Very sad. Very grateful to the many loyal fans who gave me their support. Now I simply feel an inner tranquility, as I have put that painful episode and the other similar episodes behind me and forgiven those who hurt me.
7 – Do you have any special message for your Portuguese readers?
Yes! I love you all! I have had many emails from Portuguese readers who wrote excellent English, and I only wish that I could speak another language as well as they do! Thank you for reading my books, for being interested in my daily life, thank you for reading this interview! All my best love and kisses to all of you. Please try all my trilogies and series: NIGHT WORLD, TH FORBIDDEN GAME, DARK VISIONS, and the upcoming book THE LAST LULLABY.
8 – Do you have any advice for those who want to pursue a career as an author?
I do. I don’t know if you can go to my website and translate my “Ten Quickie Tips” for young writers, (in “Burning Fan Questions” on my Home page) but the very first of them is to write something every single day. It’s a good idea to write at the same time every day—it teaches you discipline and you will find that your ideas are ready to flow out of your fingertips and onto the computer if you try this for about a month. Sometimes it can happen after only a week! You have to pick the time that best suits your needs, but if it takes getting up half an hour earlier, I promise you’ll find it’s worth it. Also, write about things that you know about—or things from your imagination. Make the protagonist of your story a person like you, and write as if you were talking to your best friend. Don’t censor yourself as you write—just let the story flow out and when you’ve finished a chapter or a short story, edit it then. If you re-write each sentence three times over you’ll find that you still hate it the fourth time you try it, because your inner censor is now awake and telling you you’re a bad writer. Never listen to that little voice that says you’re not a great author! Just work hard, brainstorm with your friends if you’re stuck for an idea, and always keep dreaming.
December 5, 2012
I’m delighted to be allowed to play the latest blog hop frolic, and I’d like to thank Cheryse Durant for asking me to join in the Reindeer Games this month. Cherie is a terrific journalist and an awesome Australian writer, so check out her wonderful and wicked HEART HUNTER series, the first volume of which comes out in April/May 2013.
And now to the questions about my Next Big Thing:
(Crispy, the rogue slave girlchild)
. . . . .
What is the working title of your book?
It started as BRIONWY’S LULLABY, but since no two people pronounced Brionwy the same way,
it became THE LAST LULLABY.
(Brionwy, the Harem Beauty)
. . . . .
Where did your story idea come from?
It came to me so early one morning that I thought it might be some left-over of a dream. What came was a ragtag bunch of characters, each with some kind of ability (what we would call a disability): from Crispy, the child with burn scars over half her body, pictured high above, to Old Useless, a crazy old woman who contributes exactly nothing to her gang’s welfare—or do her prophetic fits actually have some meaning? And then there were the direct opposites of the starving misfits: the Beauties, like Brionwy of the Red-Gold Hair and the gorgeous nightskin Melisande, who lived as courtesans in the harem of the Lord Overseer Rajan. These Beauties would seem to have every luxury, but they are like birds in gilded cages: free to do anything but escape the Great House of Darkhemen. I began to wonder, what if seventeen-year-old Brionwy met young Crispy through a peephole in the crumbling harem wall . . .
Incidentally, it also began as dreams of the future had by Sarah Strange of STRANGE FATE, but it quickly bloomed into a story of rebellion and romance so large that it outgrew its dream-venue and became a book of its own
(The Phoenix Way of fighting shakes the world’s foundations)
. . . . .
What is your genre?
Young Adult Fantasy/ Adult Fantasy. I thought long and hard about putting this out as my first adult book. But most of the characters are teenagers and in the end I decided that it worked better as YA. (I have plenty of adult readers anyway.) Let me add that this is a very adult YA book—with a risky and risqué background setting alone.
(Nefer, the open-eyed ‘Sleeping Beauty’ in Crispy’s gang)
. . . . .
What actors do you imagine in a film version?
Oh. this is where my lack of TV knowledge really hurts me. I would love it if someone could use Avatar -type movie technology, and Brionwy could be played by a seventeen-year-old-looking Julia Roberts. Here’s what I imagine her looking like (with some help from reader and artist Andie Hutchinson—thank you, Andie!)
(Brionwy, daughter of Branwen)
As for others in my Avatar-dream-film, I’d love Samuel Jackson to play AaronDelmarAnderson, the wise and abled resistance leader on the farm that breeds humans in pens as food for the Great Master Dragons—but he’d have to regress to age twenty-one.
(Aaron, the abled revolutionary recruiter)
Then there’s the apparently fatuous and lustful Lord Overseer, who with a little age-reducing magic could be played by U.K. actor Edward Petherbridge, all dolled up in his Lord Peter Wimsey outfit: monocle and everything.
(Lord Overseer Rajan)
For the rest, I’m going to turn this question upside-down and show what some characters look like, and maybe readers will be able to envision their own choice of actors.
(Ayotunde, young revolutionary, shown with golden-eyed Melisande and shadowy Lyria, Brionwy’s dearest harem friends, and Meshi, Crispy’s gang-member, abled in that he is deaf.)
(One of the Great Masters of the Earth)
. . . . .
What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?
When Brionwy, lute-player and harem courtesan, meets Crispy, a canny rogue slave girl-child, the resulting synergy rocks the foundations of the hellish world they live in, as the two form a secret group of resistance agents with the help of Phoenix Fighter Junhee, who has been chosen as a virgin sacrifice to the great Master Dragons that rule the earth.
(Junhee, Phoenix Way Fighter and sixteen-year-old revolutionary)
. . . . .
Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?
I have the very great honor of saying that I am represented by John Silbersack of the Trident Media Group, and that The Last Lullaby has been accepted by Margaret Ferguson Books, of Farrar Strauss and Giroux Books for Young Readers. I am not yet certain of the pub date, but will post it as soon as I’m sure.
(Junhee’s gallant and courageous admirer, the healer Dao)
. . . . .
How long did it take you to write the first draft of the manuscript?
It’s hard to say, since it started as part of STRANGE FATE. Certainly more than a year, while I worked on it and STRANGE FATE side by side. So far LULLABY is around 150,000 words (a whopping 670+ pages), but it will be trimmed in editing.
(Seventeen-year-old Beauties like Brionwy are kept in the Wisteria Pavilion)
. . . . .
What other books would you compare your story to?
I suppose you could say that there are hints of THE PRINCE AND THE PAUPER about it, and Crispy certainly owes a great debt to Vonda McIntyre’s multi-award-winning DREAMSNAKE. I tried very hard to avoid any similarity between LULLABY and the fascinating dragons conjured up by the late (and uniquely renowned) Anne McCaffrey, but I think all dragon aficionados owe something to her.
(Brionwy with lute, playing a lullaby.)
. . . . .
Who or what inspires you?
Well, this book would just be another vampire story if it weren’t for my agent, John Silbersack. He helped me in so many ways to make it a stronger, more coherent and more logical fantasy that I will never be able to thank him. And then there are my muses, critics and brainstorming friends, like Christina and Julie. I have to add that I usually wrote to a certain haunting tune called Arcadia, by Kevin Macleod of Incompetech. It can be heard on the Home page of my site and playing right now for you. (Flash Required)
(Prophecy: The end will come with a rose amidst blood . . .)
. . . . .
What else might pique the reader’s interest?
Virgin concubines (stronger female role models than I’ve ever come up with before), a multi-cultural cast, ravaging dragons, a forbidden journal full of terrifying secrets, prophetic dreams, slaves who live by their wits in a world forever changed by the Masters, a little light witchcraft, and lullabies designed to give you goosebumps. Also love that withstands the tests of distance, hierarchy, consciousness and time, as well as a little pride and prejudice.
(When the northern lights play on the Upperlands the ceremony is complete.)
Okay, the questions are answered and I must tag some talented new authors for next week’s Next Big Thing Blog. Here goes (uh, can you tell Cherie helped me? :-) Bless her! )
Please check the sites of the following next Wednesday, December 12:
Marianne de Pierres: http://www.burnbright.com.au
Travis McKenzie: http://magickless.blogspot.com/2012/11/next-big-thing.html
Amanda Bridgeman: www.amandabridgeman.com.au
Ben Marshall: http://www.benmarshall-wordpirate.com
Thanks again to Cherie, and best of luck to all of these kind and gifted folks.
. . . . .
Before there was Twilight, there was The Vampire Diaries.
L.J. (Lisa Jane) Smith’s first teen vampire romance novel came out more than 20 years ago. She wrote four books for the series by 1992, before calling it quits for nearly a decade to help take care of family business.
When Stephanie Meyer’s Twilight hit the shelves, Smith got a call that The Vampire Diaries books were mysteriously back on the bestseller list. So, she wrote three more books for the series and was set to write another trilogy when Alloy Entertainment Inc. and HarperTeen hired a ghost writer to finish the series with shorter books that fit the new The Vampire Diaries TV series better. The Secret Circle, another series by Smith, was also passed to a new author for the same reason.
Now, Smith warns aspiring writers to be wary of the words “work for hire,” which she says helped “mutilate her child limb by limb and destroy it.” Salt Lake magazine sat down with Smith, who has 20 plus books published, to get her thoughts on losing the series, her thoughts on the fans and what she's doing right now.
Continue to read the rest of the Interview Here >> Interview by Jaime Winston on October 27, 2012 for SaltLake