YES! I got to interview the incredibly talented, beautiful, and remarkable L.J. Smith.
When I say, "I honestly could not be more thrilled to do this interview right now, it is a dream come true!" I mean exactly that.
Interviewing author L.J. Smith (author of The Vampire Diaries--yes, I got to talk to the creator of the Salvatore brothers, The Secret Circle series, and the Nightworld series) was beyond a thrilling experience for me, I never thought that something this extraordinary would ever happen to me, a blogger who's only been around for eleven months. A newbie.
But it happened! Ms Smith was more than willing to do this for my blog, and because of her kindness, I am eternally grateful. This interview isn't just a dream come true...it is mind blowing. I had the pleasure of interviewing this incredible author! An author who I've looked up to ever since I started reading Young Adult books! (Nine years old or so?)
So without further ado, and before I turn this introduction into a short novel, here is my extraordinary interview with New York Times Bestselling author, L.J. Smith.
An Interview with Author L.J. Smith:
The Literary Connoisseur: Let's start with some questions about you first. Do you have a literary influence when it comes to your writing? An inspirational author perhaps?
L.J. Smith: I was heavily influenced by science fiction and fantasy books when I was growing up. I especially gravitated toward tales of magic, of wishing rings and flying carpets and phoenixes and mysterious, otherworldly lands. My favorite authors during my childhood were C.S. Lewis, who wrote the Chronicles of Narnia, and J. R. R. Tolkien of Lord of the Rings fame. They had a tremendous influence on me, as did many other writers about magic—so many that I had to keep a list of them in the back of my diary (I always kept a diary until I was thirtysomething).
You can easily see this influence on my first two books: The Night of the Solstice and Heart of Valor. I wrote those when I was quite young and they received excellent reviews, but didn’t sell. One possible reason was that they’d been written as YA, but were sold as middle grade (I’ll never know why) and Solstice had a cover that even a mother couldn’t love. Also—and this is a big reason—they were hardback pure fantasy and right then the market was rabid for paperback original horror books. Not romance horror—pure horror. This was the heyday of Christopher Pike and Goosebumps.
The Literary Connoisseur: What does your success as a bestselling author mean to you? Where would you like to see your success take you?
L.J. Smith: All I want—all I want—is to write books that show young girls how they’re being exploited. I don’t need more money; I don’t care about writing in the popular genre of the day (which seems perhaps to be zombies—which leaves me cold anyway). What I care about is that every one of my female readers is fighting a great battle that she might not even be aware of. One project I really would like to do is to watch 24 straight hours of TV and count the number of times that girls are:
· Told that they must be pretty to succeed
· Told that they must buy products to make them pretty (= succeed)
· Told that they look best wearing certain clothes (often tight) or shoes (often high) in order to be acceptable
· Told that in order to be acceptable they need to smear multicolored goo all over their faces (otherwise known as makeup)
· Told that they are only competent enough for certain things: to be the token female on an otherwise all-male news journal. To be the supporting anchor on a news story, not the lead. To be a policewoman—inside a room of thirty policemen. Ditto fire fighter, doctor, CIA operative . . . oh, you name it with TV shows and commercials and you’ll find discrepancies everywhere.
The Literary Connoisseur: What would you like to say to your fans? Your old fans, your faithful fans, your new fans, and everyone else who adores your work?
L.J. Smith: I’d like to say forgive me. Strange Fate will come out. I’m having a bit of a metamorphosis now, and it’s hard to write quickly when one is in a chrysalis. But the book will come out—in two volumes, I hope, as it is already over 800 pages long. And thank you all from my heart for waiting.
The Literary Connoisseur: Are you currently working on a project?
L.J. Smith: I’m working on several. Strange Fate, of course. Also The Last Lullaby, which ought to have come out this August but will be delayed because of a huge drama that that had very little to do with the manuscript itself (and which I hope to be able to explain in detail at a later date). I’ve also recently begun work on the sequel to The Forbidden Game, which I think may be called All I Refuse.
And then, of course, there is Evensong, the Vampire Diaries “fanfics” that are published on Amazon.com’s Kindle Worlds. As you undoubtedly know, these take the story up from right after Midnight, the last Vampire Diaries book published that was by me and not written by the ghostwriter. Right now the first book, Paradise Lost, and the first third of the second book, The War of Roses, is up. You don’t need a Kindle to read them: Amazon provides a free, legitimate app so you can read them on your computer.
The Literary Connoisseur: If you hadn't written the books you've written, which of your series or novels would you say would appeal to you the most?
L.J. Smith: Uh . . . that’s a really, really hard question and I’m going to weasel out of it. I’d like the books I’m writing right now (I always do or I wouldn’t write them). I suppose best would be a tie between The Last Lullaby and Evensong. Mainly because Elena is such a strong character that I count her as a boy (which was why I mistreated her so horribly in Nightfall, by the way). In Evensong she’ll be even stronger, and will determine her own destiny.
The Literary Connoisseur: Many authors say that when they become inspired to write a story, the plot comes to them, as well as some helpful insight from the characters "speaking" to them as they write. Do your characters speak to you?
L.J. Smith: Oh, yes. I couldn’t write if they didn’t speak. I’m writing the Evensong series (nine books in total) for pocket change simply because Elena and Bonnie and Damon and Stefan told me the end to their story long ago and then continued to speak to me after I was no longer publishing books in the series.
If the characters won’t act out their parts I can’t write down what they feel and think and do. It’s useless to try to write then: all that comes out is drek.
The Literary Connoisseur: I'm a huge fan of both your Vampire Diaries series, and your Secret Circle series. Which do you feel is more fun to write, witches or vampires? Do you have a favorite character that you like to write?
L.J. Smith: I honestly can’t say which is more fun to write. I did more writing about vampires because 1) I was known for that after The Vampire Diaries, and 2) vampires were more popular. But I really enjoy writing about witches because the witches I’ve created—like the ones in Secret Circle—are matriarchal and have an egalitarian society. I like to write about scenarios where girls are the ones in control. I also quite like researching ancient spells and making up new ones.
The Literary Connoisseur: What was your inspiration for the Night World series?
L.J. Smith: I came up with that after having written two trilogies, The Forbidden Game and Dark Visions, for Simon & Schuster. I wanted to write an open-ended series about people of all sorts—vampires, witches, shapeshifters, falling in love with clueless humans. And I wanted to make sure that each of the girls in the stories I wrote about was a strong character with a vocation. Thus came Poppy North, future musician and world traveler, Mary-Lynnette Carter, future astronomer, Rashel Jordan, present vampire hunter and future Circle Daybreak operative, and my own secret favorite, “I’m just a grunt” Keller, who probably doesn’t need a description.
The Literary Connoisseur: Do you prefer it when your characters' stories connect? When they meet one another and their stories overlap?
L.J. Smith: Not particularly. I’ve only written one series that way—Night World—and that was planned from the beginning. I don’t feel any need to have Julian meet Kaitlyn Fairchild or anything like that.
The Literary Connoisseur: I find that the Salvatore brothers' heritage is very important in the plot of the Vampire Diaries. Out of all the ethnic backgrounds, what made you choose to make brothers Stefan and Damon Italian?
L.J. Smith: Do you know, I don’t remember? That was a long time ago. I do remember doing the research though—I read a quintillion articles and books on Renaissance Italy to try to get things right. I do know that I wanted the boys to be exotic and that I myself am quite familiar with Florence, having had the good fortune to have visited there three times so far. I think it’s important that the brothers come from somewhere with an ancient history of its own, and a place of astonishing beauty and you can’t beat Italy for history or gorgeous old art.
The Literary Connoisseur: The Secret Circle, the Night World series, and The Vampire Diaries date back to the early 90s, and I'm sure there are still adventures we as readers have yet to experience. Are their stories not quite over yet? Do you think you'll be writing more about them in the future?
L.J. Smith: Better make a note: you actually sent me this interview a week before Evensong debuted on Kindle Worlds. It’s my fault entirely that I’ve taken so long to answer the questions. So, yes, obviously, the characters of The Vampire Diaries have lots of adventures to come. Also, of course, Strange Fate will complete the Night World series. As for Secret Circle, a ghostwriter has taken over the series.
The Literary Connoisseur: If you were to look back at yourself as a writer, do you think you would ever expect to be where you are today? What would you like to say to aspiring writers out there?
L.J. Smith: Well, I expect this sounds egotistical, but honestly when I was teenaged and starry-eyed I thought I’d be a different kind of writer entirely. I didn’t really plan on writing “popular” books; I wanted to write books that would change the way people thought about girls and women and their rights . . . and the wrongs that have been done to them.
If I’ve succeeded in doing this at all with the books I already have written or those I am to write, then I’d say I’ve done what I set out to do. Just change a few minds.
What would I say to young writers? Two things, I think. Write every day, even if it’s just a diary entry or a letter. And never give up. The publishing world can be harsh. But if you’re writing from your heart—if you truly believe in your book, and if it says what is in your heart, you’ll succeed. Oh, yes, and make sure your grammar is superb. You can’t afford to make mistakes. There are excellent grammar courses to be found online if you’re not quite confident about your ability.
The Literary Connoisseur: Thank you so much again, Ms Smith, for joining us and for answering some well-anticipated questions! I look forward to reading more of your work in the future.
Wowee! I am still reeling from this interview! While I'm recovering, why don't you all check out Ms Smith's websites?
Visit her website here!
Her Facebook page here!
Her Goodreads page here!
And her Amazon page here!
Have you read Ms Smith's books yet? Start with these!
The Vampire Diaries
The Secret Circle
The Forbidden Game
Love candles that are inspired by book characters? Well, Book Scents Candles has made a few specially for L.J. Smith's own Delos and Circle Daybreak.
Buy a book inspired "Delos" candle here!
Buy a book inspired Circle Daybreak candle here!
About L.J. Smith:
Lisa Jane Smith is the New York Times #1 Bestselling author of The Vampire Diaries, The Secret Circle, The Forbidden Game, Dark Visions, Wildworld and Night World series. She has written over two dozen books for children and young adults, and has enjoyed writing every one of them. She lives in the Bay Area of California, with a backyard that is full of flowers, which she adores, especially with many different shades of roses.
She loves to visit a friend's little cabin in the Point Reyes National Seashore area, which has lots of trees, lots of animals, lots of beaches to walk on, and lots of places to hike. Once, while hiking, she saw a snow-white buck which allowed her to follow it nearly half a mile. She also likes to collect things: angels (they remind her of her late mother), tiny boxes from different countries or of fanciful shape, nineteenth century children's literature, and books about quantum physics--especially about the mystery of the dark energy in the universe. A militant optimist, she is also part of the Velociraptor Sisterhood (a fancy way of saying that she likes to read, write and discuss books with strong female characters), and she has traveled extensively in Europe and the Far East. The two countries she loves to visit most are Great Britain, with its historic monuments and amazing country landscapes, and Japan, with its bustling urban life and exquisite mountain scenery.
Her favorite current writer is Terry Pratchett, the author of the Discworld series, for its wild and witty satires on life, death, war, love, assassins, coppers, and Australia. Her favorite classical writer is Jane Austen. Her favorite poets are Robert Frost and Emily Dickinson. Her favorite movies are The Seven Samurai and Avatar (analyze that!). She doesn't have a favorite TV show, because she doesn't have time to watch TV (and only owns one for playing movies).
Her favorite people are her readers, each of whom she cherishes with deep and lasting affection.
A note from your blogger:
Thank you all so much for taking the time out of your day to read this remarkable interview with L.J. Smith! It was an honor, a pleasure, and a dream come true to host her. Every new step I take with my blog is a step in the right direction, and I can't thank you enough for taking this journey with me. I love you all, my lovely, lovely Lit-Wits! I cannot wait to see what new and exciting adventures we go on next!