Melissa de la Cruz is the New York Times and USA Today best-selling author of many critically acclaimed and award-winning novels for teens including The Au Pairs series, the Blue Bloods series, the Ashleys series, the Angels on Sunset Boulevard series and the semi-autobiographical novel Fresh off the Boat.
Her books for adults include the novel Cat’s Meow, the anthology Girls Who Like Boys Who Like Boys and the tongue-in-chic handbooks How to Become Famous in Two Weeks or Less and The Fashionista Files: Adventures in Four-inch heels and Faux-Pas. She has worked as a fashion and beauty editor and has written for many publications including The New York Times, Marie Claire, Harper’s Bazaar, Glamour, Cosmopolitan, Allure, The San Francisco Chronicle, McSweeney’s, Teen Vogue, CosmoGirl! and Seventeen. She has also appeared as an expert on fashion, trends and fame for CNN, E! and FoxNews.
Melissa grew up in Manila and moved to San Francisco with her family, where she graduated high school salutatorian from The Convent of the Sacred Heart. She majored in art history and English at Columbia University (and minored in nightclubs and shopping!). She now divides her time between New York and Los Angeles, where she lives in the Hollywood Hills with her husband and daughter.
Q: With so many various writing conferences and cons nowadays, authors seem to have several options to fill their schedules. What is it about Romantic Times that made you add this event to your busy schedule?
I’ve heard from so many author friends how much fun RT is, and how unique it is, there’s a sense of humor and fun to the convention that I found very appealing. I’m excited to be part of it this year!
Q: As far as busy schedules go, do you find time to read for yourself? If so what are some of your current favorite books?
Yes of course! Reading is my favorite hobby, and when I’m on deadline I don’t get to read as much as I’d like. Recently I read “Room” by Emma Donoghue which I liked, I just started reading Christine Feehan’s “Dark” books, and also The Name of the Wind by Patrick Rothfuss.
Q: So many adults are enjoying the YA genre now. Do you feel like your writing has messages for the targeted audience of young adults, or do you keep in mind the cross-over audience as well?
I don’t really like “message” books so I don’t write them, I write for teens and the teen I was, and the teen I still am. For me they are universal stories, so it doesn’t surprise me that adults read teen books. A good book is a good book regardless of its intended audience. I read all the “Wimpy Kid” books one long weekend, and I loved them. I don’t write for an audience, I write for myself.
Q: Do you ever get “star-struck” meeting other authors or have “fan-girl” moments?
Oh definitely, it’s very exciting to meet authors you love and admire, I met Stephen King once, which was awesome.
Q: Since Romantic Times has an emphasis on romance, who are some of your favorite romantic couples of fiction, or ones perhaps you’ve created?
Scarlett O’Hara and Rhett Butler, Bridget Jones and Mark Darcy, Princess Maria and Nikolai from War and Peace. In my Blue Bloods books, I love Jack and Schuyler, Mimi and Kingsley, Allegra and Bendix. In my first adult paranormal novel, Witches of East End, I love Ingrid and Matthew.
Q: Are there certain things you have to have to write, like snacks or music?
Not really. I can pretty much write anywhere. But I do need gum and absolute silence.
Q: Writing seems to be such a personal thing, is it hard to send your work out into the world? How do you deal with getting feedback from so many different people?
One of the most important things to develop as a writer is a thick skin, and getting used to feedback. I have never been afraid of rejection, and I think that helps a lot. I don’t know where this confidence came from, but you just can’t be scared to send your stuff out to the world if you’re interested in a creative career. It was only AFTER I had published a novel that I was even aware that my books would have to sell if I wanted to have a career in publishing. I just assumed that if you were a good enough writer, you could be published, it never occurred to me that other people would have to like them too, and lots of them would have to buy them for me to be able to continue to be paid to write books.
Q: If you could give one piece of advice to young adults (on anything), what would it be?
I would say enjoy your youth, enjoy your friends, have a lot of fun and don’t worry too much about the future. There’s time for that later, but you’ll never have all the time in the world to hang out with your friends as you do now. So enjoy it. I miss my friends and just hanging out doing nothing but having fun doing it. Also the best advice my mother ever gave me about romance was love the ones who love you, unrequited crushes are not worth it. If he doesn’t feel the same about you, move on, you don’t like him anyway. You can’t change someone’s mind, and as my mom told me “Don’t be a fan.” You need to be an equal. He’s got to be as into you as you are into him.
Q: What is your opinion on the steady popularity of supernatural elements in YA fiction? Do you think that the Vampire (were’s, angels, demons, fairies) trend is here to stay?
Certainly. Fantasy is a perennial, and the fact that it’s moved into the mainstream is not a surprise. Teens love supernatural stories, for me it feels like the natural progression of loving fairy tales.
Q: As writers of Young Adult fiction, teens (and some adults for that matter) can get kind of obsessed with characters and the authors that created them. Do you enjoy the fame and attention you have gained from writing or is it more of a nuisance?
It’s fun, it’s very flattering certainly. But in the end, it’s just something that is so apart from writing that it’s more just, oh, that’s cool, and you sort of have to ignore it so you can write. It is nice to see a crowd at a bookstore though. That’s the best part–just relief that I won’t be giving my speech to the sympathetic staff.
Q: What is next for you? Any exciting news you could share…or tease us with?
There will be a huge announcement coming on a new series I’m working on, so stay tuned! A new fantasy world. Not vampires or witches or hellhounds. I’ve been working on this project for three years and I’m so excited to tell everyone about it soon!
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