Hostile Questions: Melissa de la Cruz

If you find yourself going mano a mano with Melissa de la Cruz, act sharp or you’ll find yourself bedazzled by her otherworldly credentials. She’s conjured up more bestsellers than boxers have teeth, including books in the Blue Bloods and Au Pair series, not to mention her adult novel Witches of East End. Can de la Cruz cast the spells needed to floor me for a 10-count?

Just who do you think you are?

Pretty darn fabulous, if I do say so myself, and I will. Since these are SOME hostile questions. I grew up in Manila, the pampered eldest child of an investment banker (my dad had his own bank) and his socialite-restauranteur wife, but instead of going to Hong Kong for my thirteenth birthday, for a shopping blowout like my PARENTS PROMISED, we had to move to the United States where we were suddenly impoverished, humble, hard-working immigrants. Oy, the Horatio Alger earnestness of it all!

The disconnect from our former life of multiple servants, chauffeurs and three-month vacations to Europe, with our American life—operating the employees’ cafeterias in the back rooms of the ever-glamorous confines of Sears and JC Penney—led me to write books that were obsessed with class variations. I set most of them in New York and the Hamptons, and I write about vampires and all sorts of paranormal and magical folk since all I remember from age 13 to 15 is reading scary Stephen King books under the covers, which weren’t as truly frightening as the lurid stories in the news about the “Night Stalker” in San Francisco—I remember thinking WHAT SORT OF COUNTRY HAVE WE MOVED TO?? Of course in Manila I grew up in a house with an armed guard, but somehow that felt safer? Just like the barbed wire and broken glass that ringed the stone walls around our estate? I was convinced the Night Stalker was in our house one night and woke up my parents. So there you go: class issues, vampires, family drama, that’s all my books in a nutshell.

I’ve lived in New York the longest out of anywhere, and so I consider myself a New Yorker even though we now live on the Left Coast in LA-LA-Land, where I drive past the “canine agility center” (a play space FOR DOGS) and even pets have dermatologists.

Where do you get off?

Mercer, between Prince and Spring. I’ll never stop loving Soho. Our home away from home is the Mercer Hotel, where you can pretend to live in your own Soho loft. I only watch movies for the real estate and architecture porn. I moved to New York as a financial aid student at Columbia, but even on my work-study stipend, I always took cabs. Cabs are a gift from god, but private car service are gifts you give to yourself.

What’s the big idea?

Pop culture domination of course! My idols are Madonna and Stephen King. I like to write about strong girls and secret societies and fantasy epics. One of my favorite books of all time is King’s Wizard and Glass, where Roland is so in love, he’s blinded to the danger all around—and because he’s in love, he actually puts own his love in jeopardy and [SPOILER ALERT!] Susannah dies because of his blindness. His love for her also killed her. Cool, right? It inspired the story in my book  Revelations where Schuyler is having this secret affair with Jack and she’s so blinded by love that she doesn’t see the danger that the Silver Bloods are bringing, and all hell literally breaks loose because of it. A few readers complained that Schuyler was so “weak” but I think anyone can be weakened by love, and it’s a human failing and I wanted to show that sometimes true love can have terrible consequences, heh. Casablanca is one of my favorite movies; love isn’t the answer. Most of the time, it’s not even the question. (I have no idea what that means, but it sounds cool so I’m keeping it in.)

What is your problem, man?

Writing long-running series can be a challenge. I used to not write anything down, because the main story lived in MY HEAD and I thought of course I would never forget anything. But a few years ago when I became a mom, I realized I was forgetting IMPORTANT THINGS that I had not yet revealed to my readers. And so I started writing down notes. “Here’s what you’ve said in the books.” “Here is the truth.” “Here is what your readers know.” “Here is what your characters now.” “Here is what you know.”

Haven’t you done enough?

Not at all. Not even close! Blue Bloods wraps up with a big finale in book seven: Gates of Paradise in January 2013, but my other series are still going. Witches of East End will publish the sequel, Serpent’s Kiss this June, and there are three more books planned. The Blue Boods spinoff Wolf Pact debuts this November. My new series, The Other Land Chronicles, book one: Frozen, co-written with my husband, Mike Johnston, debuts in April of 2013. And I have a bunch of new projects that haven’t been announced yet. I like being busy; I have to pay for my car service.



About the Author:

Dan Kraus is Booklist's Editor of Books for Youth. He is also the producer and director of numerous feature films, most notably the documentary Work Series, and the author of several YA novels, including Rotters and Scowler, both of which won the Odyssey Award. Follow him on Twitter at @DanielDKraus.

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