Burning Fan Q & A
BURNING FAN COMMENTS & REPLY (March 18, 2013)
I have been reading your books (and re-reading to keep me satiated until Strange Fate) for almost 20 years. I have really cherished your work and missed you during your absence. The biggest joy, though, has been introducing my students (oh yeah, I'm a teacher) to your books. Prior to the re-releases of The Vampire Diaries, I had a waiting list of students who wanted to borrow my copies. They have even helped open communication between myself and students who wouldn't have talked to me otherwise. So, again, thank you for what you have given us. I look forward (anxiously, I must say) for the next installment.
Hi, I've just been looking through this site and saw your message and I wanted to reply to it. Ever since I was really young, I have really enjoyed reading the Nightworld series and keep waiting for it to come out each year. Also, I'm a teacher to and have used during English and narrative writing. All the children love the books:-) and they really inspire the kids to think and write about stories in a fun away...Wrote this message, because your message reminded me of my own experiences.
You don’t know how pleased and humbly proud I am to hear that not one, but two teachers have made use of my books with their students. As a former public school teacher myself, I know the joy and excitement of helping kids learn to read and to love reading. The thought that my books contributed in some small way to the same cause has me walking on air. Bless you for letting me know! ~ Lisa
Have a Burning Fan Question?
I'm Maddie and I was wondering if you have any helpful tips to an aspiring author such as myself. I look up to you as an accomplished author. If you have any helpful ideas on time management (I'm a busy teenager), organizing ideas, plot, and coming up with titles, names for characters. If you can even give me the slightest advice, it would really help me out. Thanks much. ~ Maddie
"TEN QUICKIE WRITING TIPS"
You sound as if you have a fine grasp of grammar and spelling, which is another very important point. My advice, given your abilities, would be:
1. Try to write something every day, even if it’s only a short entry in your diary. If you want to be disciplined/ serious/ organized about this write at the same time every day. Get up twenty minutes earlier and write until you need to use the bathroom. Or write each day after your homework/ housework is done, and while your cell phone is off and you’re as safe as you can be from interruption.
2. Use your “waiting time” (time waiting for the bus to arrive, the bath to fill with water, your favorite new app to download) to think about stories or books you’d like to write. Imagine yourself as the heroine. Write in the third person in your head, so that you’re thinking, “Maddie saw the lonely Victorian house as a bolt of lightning illuminated the night in a brilliant flash.” Okay, so that’s really corny. Think up something better.
3. You can start with either a couple of characters or with a situation. Want to write a romance? Figure out what your hero and heroine look like and some basic facts about their personalities. Now think of why their love is impossible/ forbidden/ seriously challenged. Finally think of a unique way for them to meet. Now imagine that first meeting and try to see it through the heroine’s eyes. Feel yourself become her. What does she think of the hero or bad boy when they meet. Good looks aren’t enough, aren’t a reason to feel something special about a guy. What does he do to piss her off but intrigue her/ make her heart stir with a novel sensation?
4. Or start with a situation. C.S. Lewis said he began the CHRONICLES OF NARNIA because he got a picture in his head of a little girl holding hands with a faun. That became Lucy and Mr. Tumnus. Think of an interesting picture. When I was ten, I thought of seven cousins all perched on a (two-person) bike at the same time. Then I took each person in the picture and made her/ him a character. Soon I was writing a story about the very different cousins. Some of those characters became Phillip of SECRET VAMPIRE, Jeanne of BLACK DAWN, and Iliana of WITCHLIGHT.
5. It’s no trouble finding names. Google “beautiful names for baby girls” or “Indian names for baby girls” or “Celtic” or “Unique” or any country you find romantic. Your only trouble then will be choosing just one name from the lists. The Internet is invaluable.
6. As for titles, brainstorm and write them down as you do. You and your friends will soon be Googling to make sure your title wasn’t published last year by someone else. Just keep forcing yourself to write nonsense and look up synonyms of the words in the nonsense, and you’ll find a title you love.
7. If you get an idea you like, drop everything and write it down. Yep, scribble it on that napkin, then hang on to the precious napkin. Tell your BFF about it and brainstorm more about it with her. I have gotten/ developed some of my best ideas from talking with friends. Even if nothing they say strikes you, you may find yourself having an inspiration as you say, “No, that won’t work because they have to _______________!”
8. Once you have a book/ story/ play idea, get out your laptop or go to your desktop and force yourself to document all you know about it. What color are the heroine’s eyes? What does she aspire to be in life? What is the unique key to your tale? What three things make the bad boy/ hero so bad/ so irresistible? What secret does the heroine keep from the world/ herself/ her BFF?
9. Above all, know how you want your story to end before you commit to it. How does your heroine help the world and what is the price she pays? What happens to the bad boy/ hero at the end of the book? What makes your ending unique? You don’t need to know the endgame of the series if that’s what you’re writing (even though it’s best to brainstorm that, too) but you have to know how your book works out. Is it a tragedy? Is it happily ever after? Whichever, even if you favor works like WUTHERING HEIGHTS (Holy wandering ghosts, Batman!) or Hamlet ( . . . the rest is silence . . .) it should have a touch of something inspiring at the dénouement. Or at least that’s my formula, and I’m the one writing this how-to guide. What spiritual nerve do you want to touch in your readers before the words THE END?
10. And in the end, how has the heroine changed? That’s what novels, in particular, are about. Someone has to learn a life lesson or become a different sort of person by the end of your book. Unless you want a heroine that stays two-dimensional throughout the book or series, she should have learned something really important that transforms her, with each and every book you write about her. If your heroine doesn’t change or grow, you’re going to be stuck telling the same story over and over. While some readers enjoy this, you’re going to get sick of it mighty quick. Challenge your readers; make their minds stretch. Doesn’t that feel good?
So there you are, ten writing tips, from a simple, easy beginning to a very demanding end. Oh, there is much more advice I could give. But you just wanted a bit of a nudge, right? Right. Off you go to pen the Great American Novel!
I just finished Midnight which was very good and exciting I wish it did not end only because Damon is alive. Will there be another book soon? ~Josie
I am sorry to tell you that I cannot write any more VAMPIRE DIARIES books. There is already another book out called VAMPIRE DIARIES: PHANTOM but it is not by me. It is by a ghostwriter. She will be writing the other books in the VAMPIRE DIARIES series now. I really, really loved that series and wanted so much and fought so hard to write it, but I signed a contract twenty years ago when I was a young and naïve writer and now I am forbidden to write the VAMPIRE DIARIES anymore. I am so very sorry.
Dear L. J. Smith,
If you are not working on another project do you think you would be willing to write a fourth book for The Secret Circle. The Secret Circle is my favorite book series of yours and I really want to know what happens to Nick (he was my favorite character). Please consider, I also know that many other fans would love it if you added to The Secret Circle. Sincerely, ~ Summer
There is a new SECRET CIRCLE book coming out in March called THE DIVIDE, but it is not by me. I cannot say more than that I signed a contract over twenty years ago. I can’t say any more than that. I’m sorry.
Hello Ms. Smith,
I have not finished reading your original books . . . I was actually writing is that I found an error in the Stefan's Diaries. . . ~ Tery
I have nothing in the least to do with writing STEFAN’S DIARIES. They are not written by any of the people named on the front. They are written by a ghostwriter, who does not get credit. If you had read more of the original VAMPIRE DIARIES books I think you would recognize the difference in the style of writing. Each writer has their own original style. Also I’d have to be a magic-worker to write STEFAN’S DIARIES, which are about the background of the TV show (and have nothing to do with my background for the original books) and simultaneously to have written the genuine original VAMPIRE DIARIES books SHADOW SOULS and MIDNIGHT—and also be working on NIGHT WORLD: STRANGE FATE.
Now, because of a contract I signed over twenty years ago, I am not allowed even to write more of the original VAMPIRE DIARIES books, although I desperately wish I could, and always assumed I would.
Have you read any of my other books besides VAMPIRE DIARIES? (Gentle hint.) This may help familiarize you with my writing style.
I' am a huge fan of the night world series and could probably recite most of the stories in the series by heart. I'am wondering if strange fate is ever going to be released. I personally feel an announcement should be made to all the fans waiting for the book as there is a lot of rumours going around about the release of the book. Anywho ciao :) ~ Ciao Vee—
STRANGE FATE will come out when I'm finished writing it. It is a very, very long book that shows the endgame for nearly all the main characters you have seen in the NIGHT WORLD series as Ash helps them. Plus, it tells the story of Sarah Strange and her two soulmates a (one of whom is the last Wild Power, Kierlan Drache!) I promise that I am working on it right now, and the only thing distracting me is one other book that I am also working on, called THE LAST LULLABY, which was originally part of STRANGE FATE (you can see a preview of it on my website in the Stories section), but which got so big it had to be a book by itself. And answering fans. That is fairly distracting, although I love you!
Thank you so much for your patience. I know you want STRANGE FATE right away, but while you are waiting maybe you could try some of my other books? (Hint, hint)
When are you going to publish the Forbidden Game sequel? Thanks! ~ Paige
Whoa. I haven't even started that book yet. First, I have to finish the last book of the NIGHT WORLD series, STRANGE FATE, and a book that was originally part of STRANGE FATE, but grew so big that I moved it to become its own novel, which is called THE LAST LULLABY. After I have finished both these books I will start THE FORBIDDEN GAME: REMATCH.
So I guess the answer is NFAW. Not For A While. Have you read all my other works yet?
You've probably been asked this a million times before but i've been reading your books allot, and was really curious when I noticed, some elements from the book of Mabinogion an ancient welsh book, which I also love, so I was just asking whether it has any relation to the story of Blodeuwedd? And...... a cheeky question, is it really true that there may be a new secret circle book? :) Thanks for taking the time to read my email, ~ Daniel :)
You are quiet right about the origins of Blodeuwedd—I first read about her when I lived in England with a Welsh family who bought me all sorts of Welsh storybooks. The Mabinogion was among them. I found Blodeuwedd fascinating as a teenager, but when I wrote her into THE VAMPIRE DIARIES she took on a distinctly dark tone. I guess part of it was my realization that a girl made out of flowers could have no heart—that she was basically a vegetable.
That’s not a cheeky question about THE SECRET CIRCLE. There is a new book coming out in hardback in March. But it is not by me. It is by another writer. I cannot say any more about this subject due to a contract I signed twenty years ago. I really can’t say another word about it. I’m very sorry.
Thank you for taking the time to write to me.