When I got a copy of Vampire Crush by A.M. Robinson in the mail from Harper Teen a few months back, I didn’t think much of it. I hadn’t heard of it before, but the summary on the back of the cover sounded interesting enough (I think there was a “Buffy” reference that got me hooked) and I held onto it. Then I actually read Vampire Crush and, well, yeah, I developed a crush of my very own.
After posting my review online, I was delighted to see the author tweet how much she loved it. That’s how we got in touch, and from there agreed to an interview. And since I had such a crush on Vampire Crush, I had no problem dorking out with my interview questions. And it seems A.M. Robinson had no problem dorking out with her answers, either. So today and tomorrow, we’re delighted to present our two-part interview with her!
I would like to write another Sophie book and am busily plotting another Sophie book, but I imagine it will ultimately come down to a lot of business-y factors and/or whether or not I get addicted to building castles in Sims Medieval and stop doing anything productive. . . I am going to regret that this is the first question and I have already embarrassed myself.
My day job is actually working in the news field, so I loved that Sophie is such a budding investigative journalist. But I have to ask … how did you manage to so accurately nail the freakishly competitive nature of this business?
My day job is in book publishing, which can have its competitive moments, but it’s been a breeze compared to what some of my more journalism-inclined friends have experienced. Lots of late nights and stress, stress, stress. But it was fun to write a character who wants that sort of pressure and thrives on it, even if Sophie can be a little too competitive at times.
You & I (and most of the world) know that there are plenty of vampire books out there these days, especially in YA. So how the heck did you write another teen vampire book that happens to be so darn unique?
I like to think of Vampire Crush as the vampire genre’s snarky little sister—it borrows a lot of its clothes but never quite does what you expect with them. I love teen vampire romance like a crazy person, but every now and then I would wonder why none of them seemed to find the idea of centuries-old vampires worrying about stupid boys or joining the robotics team as funny as I did. While Vampire Crush does have a lot of serious underpinnings, I tried to err on the side of kooky humor and camp whenever possible. It helped that Sophie developed such a quirky outlook early on. Sometimes she would come out with some bizarre simile, and I’d be like “. . .Really?” And she’d go “Yes. Like a My Little Pony. Write it down!”
Aside from its uniqueness, you’ve written Vampire Crush in such a way that it’s a bit self-aware—and this comes across in some of the tongue-in-cheek references to things like Twilight and Buffy . What made you decide to take the tone of this book in that direction, rather than 100% serious?
The idea for Vampire Crush actually came to me after I watched the “zombie rom-com” Shaun of the Dead for—not exaggerating—maybe the 10th time. It works in so many little nods to previous zombie movies while still working as an original and exciting zombie movie in and of itself. I decided that I wanted to do something like that for teen vampire romance, and I wanted it all to start with a girl who is unknowingly given the task of interviewing vampires for her high-school newspaper.
And honestly, I felt like would be foolhardy to write a book about vampires in high school that didn’t give props to the books and shows that really made the genre. Also, I have always been mystified by any character that is presented with the existence of vampires and goes “Vampire? What’s that?” when I would totally ask “So are you a Buffy vampire or a True Blood vampire? I need to know if I should find some dirt for you to sleep in.” Part of the fun of writing Vampire Crush was letting Sophie wade through all of the conflicting mythologies to help solve the mystery of what all these vampires were doing at her high school.
On a similar note … tell us about walking the balance between writing in some of these funnier, self-referential jokes while still telling a good story that isn’t a parody of the genre.
Oh man, I am so glad to hear that this worked for you! It was the thing I worried about the most while writing. I really tried to make sure that each character had very genuine, human motivations behind all of their actions, comedic or not. Violet, my Victorian-era vampire, is dealing with insecurity that comes from a string of rejections. . . a long, long, long string of rejections; Sophie and her sister Caroline’s relationship is colored by sisterly tension; even Vlad the Crazypants is trying to regain something he lost due to forces out of his control.
James is kind of awesome, even in his imperfections. Can you just gush about him for a little bit? Yes, we’re giving you permission to tell us what’s so great about your own character. What do you love about him? What about him annoys you?
This is the best question! Piggybacking on the question above, out of all of the characters in Vampire Crush, I think James is the most realistic, and the one who has to deal with the most realistic problems, mainly the loss of his parents and a rash decision that has left him in unwilling cahoots with a bonkers group of vampires. Being a teenage boy, he deals with this in several ways that range from unbearable adorableness to so frustrating that you want to tear your hair out and throw it at him. his sense of humor and that he can hold his own when it comes to banter wars with Sophie. His main flaw—and one that I hope is sympathetic—is that he’s too willing to sit on the sidelines and let questionable things happen.
Thankfully, that’s where Sophie and her eagerness to dive headlong into anything come in. I love how well they balance one another out—his feelings for her forces him into action and her feelings for him make her at least attempt self-preservation, which is no mean feat. I love that their childhood relationship secretly means as much to him as it does to her.
I don’t suppose there’s any chance you’d tell us what A.M. stands for?
Andrea! And Marie! There is actually a second, secret middle name that goes between them. I have to retain some mystery.
On your website, you talk about working on a book about 1900s Chicago, ghosts and cute Irish boys. Please tell us more. Like when we can read this book.
I adore anything that weaves paranormal elements into historical fiction, and so one day my brain was like, “Hey, Andrea, if you want to marry paranormal historical fiction so much, why don’t you WRITE ONE?” My brain is somewhere around third grade, really, when it comes down to it. But in this case, it was onto something. I’m working on a book about a girl who traps ghosts around the city with her eccentric uncle and then tries to help them move on by resolving whatever thorny issue is keeping them there. The cute Irish boy has been brought on as their driver under mysterious circumstances, but doesn’t know anything about their business. But then they have to team up with a man from her uncle’s past shows up with nefarious plans and a ghost-controlling habit.
Unfortunately, it’s been a little slow so far because historical fiction seems to involve research, as my early drafts of “Then I passed an early 20th-century tree, followed by an early 20th-century gate and an early 20th-century dog,” lacked a certain something.
Tune in tomorrow for even more with Andrea!