Some authors are a lot harder to get interviews with, but I still want to put them in the picture on my blog. So I decided to start another new segment on my blog: “About the author“, where I will share with you the research I usually do before interviewing them: fun facts, excerpts from other interviews they’ve done, background information, and more.
I’m going to start this new segment off with Richelle Mead, whose YA fantasy series Vampire Academy I’ve reviewed. A quick look on Goodreads tells us that she writes “urban fantasy books for both adults and teens” and she has written over 25 of them. She wrote the Vampire Academy series, its spinoff the Bloodlines series, the Georgina Kincaid series and the Dark Swan series. Besides this, she has written a number of standalone novels as well and continues to write more books and new series. On her website, Mead says she’s always been a fan of mythology and folklore and has been a lifelong reader.
I’m a self-professes coffee addict, work in my pajamas, and have a passion for all things wacky and humorous.
Things you might not know about Richelle Mead:
- She has 3 degrees: a Bachelor of General Studies, a Master of Comparative Religion and a Master of Teaching
- She used to be an 8th grade teacher
- She has no concrete plans to return to the world of Vampire Academy and Bloodlines right now
- She is quite active on Twitter, follow her on @RichelleMead
- This is her summer reading wishlist
- She loves Game of Thrones (and tweets about it often)
She also has a list of Frequently Asked Questions on her website, and a number of “Ask the Author” questions and answers on Goodreads. Be sure to browse through them, to learn more about this bestselling American fantasy author. Besides those two sources, I also always look at a number of interviews they’ve done for news outlets and online magazines for inspiration. I’ve collected some of my favourite interview questions and answers here:
Who’s on the covers of the Vampire Academy books? (source)
RM: Covers are designed by a book company’s art department and are something I have little say about. Since everyone has different ideas about how characters look, the art department’s ideas may not quite match the books’ descriptions or your ideas. Or, the art department may not have even read the book. Here’s my best guess:
- Vampire Academy – Rose
- Frostbite – The girl is Rose, and the guy is a mystery even to me. Without the red eyes, he’d be Christian. He’s too young to be Isaiah.
- Shadow Kiss – Lissa and Dimitri are on the old version; Rose is supposed to be on the new one [pictured below is the new version -Ed.]
- Blood Promise – Rose
- Spirit Bound – Rose and ???
- Last Sacrifice – Rose
How did you get started writing? (source)
RM: I’ve wanted to write for my entire life. When I was little, I used to design my own picture books. As I got older, I began trying to write short stories. During high school and college, I fell away from writing and ended up getting degrees in other things and becoming a middle school English teacher. Not long after that, I started writing a sci-fi book as a hobby. Nothing ever came of it, but it trained me up to write Succubus Blues. I sold it relatively quickly, and from there, I began writing my other series.
Where do you get your ideas from? Are your characters or books based on real life? (source)
RM: None of my characters or situations are based on anything in real life–it all comes from my head! That being said, the things in my head are fueled by the world around me. I do a lot of mythological research, and often that triggers an idea for a book (like how the Romanian myth of Strigoi and Moroi inspired Vampire Academy). Sometimes tiny little things I observe in the world will spark an idea too. Writing and story creating is so complex that there’s no one good answer to say where a book comes from.
The Romanian myth of Strigoi and Moroi inspired me to write Vampire Academy.
Do you write your books from beginning to end or do you jump around? (source)
RM: If possible, I write from beginning to end! It just makes better sense to me and allows me to create earlier events that impact later events in a logical way. But, if I’m really stuck on a chapter I don’t know how to write, I’ll sometimes skip to the next one if I understand it better.
Do you ever feel like changing (parts of) your books after publishing? (source)
RM: No, I stand by all my decisions! 🙂 I start a series knowing how it and the books within it will end, and I usually stick to it. There are so many conflicting opinions out there that if I let them influence me, I’d never get anything done. So, I just go forward with what feels right to me.
How many words a day do you write? Do you write by hand or on the computer? (source)
RM: I type on the computer. My hands wouldn’t be able to take writing with a pen. It also wouldn’t be fast enough. On a light schedule, about 2,000 words a day. When I’m working at a normal pace and doing a full day, that goes up to 4,000-5,000 a day.
How do you keep coming up with ingenious, elaborate plots? How do you go about structuring the plots, deciding what events take place and in which order, … ? (source)
RM: It’s actually a difficult part of the writing process for me too! I have to plan it all out in advance, make notes, and draw outlines. If I try to write the book without having everything figured out beforehand, I either get lost or run out of ideas. Some authors don’t need to do that. They just sit down without a plan, start typing, and ideas come to them. Me? I need a whiteboard, a detailed plan of action! My advice would be to work out an outline of your story or book first before you actually start writing it. It’s not always fun, but it’ll keep you on track and make for better writing.
My advice: work out an outline of your story or book first before you actually start writing it.
Who is Rose’s character from Vampire Academy inspired by? (source)
RM: I actually don’t know anyone quite like Rose. In fact, she’s my opposite! So often, I write Rose and decide her actions based on what I *wouldn’t* do. Would I punch first and ask questions later? Probably not! So that’s what I make Rose do.
What is your advice for writers having a hard time getting a literary agent? (source)
RM: Keep trying! I got many rejections from literary agents before I signed with one. Also keep writing. While I was trying to get an agent for the first book I finished, I was writing a second and different book. My first one didn’t catch on with anyone, but my second book (Succubus Blues) did. That’s what got me an agent and began my publishing career. Years later, when I was more established and also more experienced at writing, I was able to get that first book into shape and get it published. It became Gameboard of the Gods. It’s definitely a tough process, but don’t give up! I really recommend working with literary agents and can’t imagine my career without one. Because they do reject so many authors, you know that when you do get one, it’s because they really, really love your work–and that’s exactly the kind of person you want to work with.
What is your advice for young writers? (source)
RM: I have two pieces of advice I always like to give young writers. One is to write what you’re passionate about. A lot of people who are starting out will stress over whether their idea is too weird, too common, etc., etc. You can’t worry about what others are going to think when they read it, though. Just write what YOU love. Your passion will show through and make a story good–even if it’s something really out there or a concept that’s been retold for centuries. My other tip is to write each day, even a little, even just a page. So many people never finish books or stories because they don’t keep up with it. A day’s break turns into a week’s break turns into a year…and suddenly, they’ve lost their rhythm. Keep up with it! It’s hard but worth it.
What are some of the books you’ve read and loved? (source)
RM: One of my lifelong favourites is The Mists of Avalon by Marion Zimmer Bradley, which is a retelling of the King Arthur stories through the women’s points of view. In more recent YA stuff, I’ve really enjoyed The Selection by Kiera Cass and Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo. Currently, I’m reading The Kingmaker’s Daughter by Philippa Gregory–a historical that’s really good so far!
One of my lifelong favourit books is The Mists of Avalon by Marion Zimmer Bradley, a retelling of the King Arthur stories through the women’s points of view.
How do you deal with writer’s block? (source)
RM: I’ve found the best way to overcome writer’s block is to do something–anything–that’s not writing. Go for a walk, see a movie…anything that’s not you stressing about your writing. Very often, once you relax and stop worrying, the answer will come. Now, when you’re an author on deadline, with a book due the next day, you don’t always have the luxury of taking a break! In those cases, I usually just write whatever I can on the page and hope inspiration hits later to revise and fix it. That’s the great thing about writing: your first draft doesn’t have to be perfect. You can always go back and edit!
What was your favourite scene to write in the first [Vampire Academy] book? (source)
RM: Probably the whole ending sequence, which is a series of scenes, is my favorite. The endings are always my favorite when I’m writing a book. That’s what everything is building towards, all the clues, all the momentum, and so when I get to write that it’s really gratifying and it usually goes really fast, especially in comparison to the rest of the book.