With Twilight, The Vampire Diaries and other popular vampire series out there, most people have come to think of the stories as generally about difficult romances (star-crossed lovers). But with your books, while there is still romance, the books are much more about growing up and choosing what sort of person you want to be (both literally and figuratively). What made you go in this direction, as opposed to the star-crossed lovers direction?
Well, I really wanted Mina’s story to be one that anyone could identify with. It really is much more a coming of age story, rather than a typical vampire novel. I also wanted her romantic life to be identifiable with the average teen and no matter how much all of us can get caught up in sweeping, epic love stories, most of us don’t live them. Instead, we’re in the “real” world with feelings that don’t always make sense, crushes that don’t always notice us, and our own mixed-up impulses. I really tried to make Mina a “normal” girl with an extraordinary problem.
While we’re on the subject of “those other vampire books,” you actually make it a point in both of your books not to ignore them. There are references to other popular series in the genre in both Sucks to Be Me and Still Sucks. What made you decide to address “the other vampire books” so directly?
Some of that was tongue-in-cheek, of course. It actually started with a reference in the first book to Anne Rice that ultimately was changed to one about Stephenie Meyer since my editor felt that she’d be more recognizable for today’s teens. And it only makes sense to acknowledge the weight of what comes before you; Dracula, for instance, is talked about quite a bit in the first book.
One of the most refreshing parts about the Sucks to Be Me books is that Mina’s voice is always 100% convincingly that of a teenager. How do you stay true to the voice of a teen, while still writing a book even grown-ups like me can enjoy?
Um, I wish I could say there was some real artistry to that or hours of study … but, really, that’s kind of what goes on in my head. Of course, I pay attention to all the teens I’ve known through the years, many of them through YA Books Central.
Speaking of Mina … throughout both books, she writes these hilarious lists about why it sucks to be her. What made you decide to incorporate this technique into the books?
I’d had one or two of these in my original draft and I’d done them kind of for fun. My editor really liked them and she had me expand the premise so that they appeared more regularly through the book. Just another example of how an editor makes your book better!
What’s next for Mina and friends? Is there another Sucks to Be Me book on the way?
Possibly. I’ve got a very basic outline of a book three, in which Mina, George, and Cameron have some crazy things happen to them while in Europe. And possibly a book four as well, though I hate to even say anything about that one since my original idea for it may not work given all the things that have happened to Mina in the meantime. But I definitely hope the publisher will ask me to write it!