Last week, we had the chance — along with a few other select bloggers — to chat with best-selling author Melissa de la Cruz about her newest project, Disney’s The Descendants: Isle of the Lost, a prequel to Disney Channel’s upcoming original movie about the children of classic villains. (In stores now!)
Check out our conversation with Melissa below, then keep reading to learn more about The Descendants: Isle of the Lost and enter to win an AMAZING prize pack!
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I mean Disney villains have had a fan following for a long time. And then you have franchises like The Avengers. And everyone’s in love with Loki, even though he kills people. So I wanted to sort of get your take on what makes bad guys so appealing?
Melissa de la Cruz: Oh. They are appealing. You know, people who don’t follow the rules, who break them, who are larger than life. And I think what’s appealing about them is that they really know what they want, you know?
So their motivations and their desires are kind of naked and grasping. And, you know, it’s out there. Maleficent, she wants to get revenge for not being invited to the party. Jafar wants to rule Agrabah. The Evil Queen wants to be the fairest of them all.
So it’s kind of like we know them really well because we know what they want. And even though what they want isn’t very good or noble, having that desire is very human, and that ambition.
So I think we really relate to that. And I think we’re kind of drawn to people who can really say without apology this is what I want. I’m going to get it, and I’m going try.
And the funny thing is when I was watching all the movies again of course they’re all happy endings, but unhappy endings for all of my characters. I mean I didn’t realize how many of them had been destroyed.
You know, Maleficent is like in a puddle of green. The Evil Queen falls off a cliff. Cruella falls off–there’s a lot of cliff falling. So, I was like, oh, my God. They’re all destroyed! How do I bring them back? So I had this line that being on the island without magic is worse than death.
And some of them were brought back from death.
Sara: Yes, I chuckled when I saw that part.
Melissa de la Cruz: Right? I was like, oh, my God. I’ve got to bring them all back. No, but, they are completely defeated. I mean they’re all failures. And I think that’s the other thing that we find really appealing about them.
We relate to that because they don’t get what they want. They try and they fail. And what’s more human than that?
Sara: I think that’s probably what’s so fascinating about Isle of the Lost, is it focuses on the children. But, at the same time it’s like okay, villains, you had these grand schemes, and they failed. So, now it’s time for the rest of your wicked life.
Melissa de la Cruz: Exactly.
Sara: So, we talked about why villains are so popular. I thought maybe let’s talk about why fairy tales are still so popular and why there’s been so many different ways of telling fairy tales.
I feel, especially lately, we have TV shows like Grimm and Once Upon a Time, and then you have books like Isle of the Lost. And there’s countless others, especially in YA, of ways that fairy tales are being retold and turned upside down and told from the villain’s perspective or modernized.
Melissa de la Cruz: Yeah. I think that somebody said there’s, like, three plots in the world, you just kind of rewrite them, you know? I think it was Shakespeare or something.
And I think it’s because we know the stories, the timeless stories so well. So you have to use that when you’re doing your retelling. Like the kids know this is the story of Cinderella. This is the story of Swan Lake. This is the story of Sleeping Beauty.
And then you kind of twist it a little bit. So I think knowing what the original story is and how timeless.
And I think it’s because they’re kind of dark, you know? Like, they do have real villains. And it’s not this gray story. It is black and white. The villains are really bad and really want terrible things to happen.
And I think as kids you’re kind of sugar coated and you’re kind of sheltered. When you read these stories it’s like there’s evil in the world.
There’re parents who abandon their children. There are witches and fairies. There’s Cinderella, you know, her parents died, and she’s been really abused by her stepmother and made to work as a servant.
So I think those resonate because they’re the first stories we hear that are kind of dark. And then this resurgence of wanting to play with them and trying to tell other stories within them, I do think it’s still–it begins from Harry Potter and Twilight and the trends toward myth and towards these bigger than life stories that we’re into, fantasy.
And I think it is this fantasy, part of the fantasy resurgence, which is really fun, you know? And I think those were the books that I was drawn to as a kid. And I’m still really interested in them as an adult, you know?
I like reading all the retellings. I like watching Once Upon a Time. It’s really fun to still kind of play that world.
Sara: Well, thank you. I, obviously, am a big fan of them as well.
Melissa de la Cruz: Yeah, I know, and when you find an interesting one, I remember the Robin McKinley ones. There’s a retelling of… I think it’s Sleeping Beauty. And it’s very interesting.
It’s like the girl, the Princess Aurora, is raised in a cottage. And she actually doesn’t even want to go back to being a princess. She likes being a girl out in the meadow and working, you know?
So the magic becomes when her friend, who was not born as a princess, but more of like a princess-like person kind of takes that role. So, I thought that was kind of interesting.
Sara: So, my last question is I know writing Isle of the Lost you had to fit sort of within certain parameters because of the script and the movie and what Disney had already kind of made plans for.
So, my question is, if you had been able to incorporate, like, another villain or another villain’s kid into the story more, whose–which villain’s kid would you have wanted to include more?
Melissa de la Cruz: I think I’ve put in that I like the stepmother’s grandnephew in. He’s very handsome and very evil. So I kind of wanted to play with him a little bit more. I think we are going to have Captain Hook’s daughter have a bigger role in the next book. So that’s going to be really fun, sort of like an evil girl pirate.
So, I think both of those, I wanted to see a little bit more from the stepmother’s and the evil stepsister’s kids having kind of like a mean lord. I like a mean lord. And then I like an evil girl pirate. So, I’m excited.
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- copy of The Isle of the Lost;
- branded tank top, water bottle and temporary tattoos;
- and a GadgetGrip smartphone home button sticker.
Giveaway open to US addresses only. Contest runs through midnight (PT) on Wednesday, May 13th.
Prizing and samples provided by Disney Publishing.
Enter by completing the Rafflecopter form HERE, and tell us in the comments who is YOUR favorite Disney villain, and why.
Twenty years ago, all the evil villains were banished from the kingdom of Auradon to the Isle of the Lost–a dark and dreary place protected by a force field that makes it impossible for them to leave. Stripped of their magical powers, the villains now live in total isolation, forgotten by the world.
Mal learns from her mother, Maleficent, that the key to true darkness, the Dragon’s Eye, is located inside her scepter in the forbidden fortress on the far side of the island. The eye is cursed, and whoever retrieves it will be knocked into a deep sleep for a thousand years. But Mal has a plan to capture it. She’ll just need a little help from her “friends.” In their quest for the Dragon’s Eye, these four kids begin to realize that just because you come from an evil family tree, being good ain’t so bad.
Isle of the Lost is the spell-binding prequel to Disney Descendants, A Disney Channel Original Movie Event this summer!
- Read an excerpt
- Visit DisneyDescendants.com
- Visit Melissa de La Cruz at her Official Site
Melissa de la Cruz is the author of many best-selling novels, including all the books in the Blue Bloods series: Blue Bloods, Masquerade, Revelations, The Van Alen Legacy, Keys to the Repository, Misguided Angel, Bloody Valentine, Lost in Time, and Gates of Paradise. She lives in Los Angeles, California with her husband and daughter.