Interview with Richelle Mead

Posted by Goodreads on August 1, 2011
Fantasy writer Richelle Mead understands the allure of a bad boy. Honorable, duty-bound Dmitri may be the hero of her best-selling young adult series Vampire Academy, but readers have always had a weakness for Adrian, the impudent scamp. Now her fans may get their wishes answered with Bloodlines, the first book of a new young adult series featuring minor characters from Vampire Academy. Adrian is back (although Mead isn't revealing exactly how), and the new heroine is Sydney Sage, an alchemist trained to conceal the supernatural world and protect ordinary humans. Known for her robust and resilient female leads, the prolific writer (18 books in six years) also helms the adult fantasy series Georgina Kincaid and Dark Swan. Mead reveals to Goodreads her thoughts on vampire popularity and feminine characters with oomph.

Goodreads: Bloodlines picks up the stories of characters we met in the Vampire Academy series. Do you think Bloodlines will be accessible to readers not familiar with Vampire Academy?

Richelle Mead: It is, actually, and it's kind of refreshing to start hearing reviews come in from people who didn't read the first series. For those who know it, it's a great continuation, and those who don't know it can follow along and catch up.

GR: With teen alchemist Sydney Sage now front and center (she played a supporting role to Vampire Academy's tough heroine Rose Hathaway), Bloodlines delves further into the arcane world of alchemy. What were your sources of inspiration or topics of research for the centuries-old tradition of alchemy in Sydney's family?

RM: It's pretty loosely based on history. It's my own interpretation, so I'm sure there are purists who will say, "Hey, I've read about medieval alchemists, and I don't remember them doing anything with vampires!" I liked the idea of a "Men in Black" society of people trying to keep vampires secret from the world. So that was part of the inspiration. And then at the same time, because I do like tying everything to mythology and folklore if I can, the alchemist idea came in—people dabbling in half magic, half science. They were particularly fascinated with magical substances—that was where the whole lead-into-gold idea came from. So I thought if ever there was a substance you could do wild things with, vampire blood was it. So I borrowed from that history and mixed it back into the "Men in Black" idea, and they sort of spawned from there.

GR: Goodreads member Alana writes, "Sydney struggled with body issues in Bloodlines, and while we seldom think of reality entering paranormal story lines, it was great to see a real teen issue come into play. Perhaps this is just a small indication of controlling behavior to come?"

RM: The Moroi [full-blooded vampires] have runway-model figures, which aren't necessarily the ideal female figure, which tends to be a little curvier. Even still, if you're around that all the time it would probably mess with your head a little bit, and everyone, I think, who grows up in the U.S. and is female is bombarded with images about "What should I look like?"—especially at that age. Also, it's an interesting side to Sydney's nature, because she is very controlling and she keeps her world very orderly. She's always asked to keep things working smoothly, and so there's this idea of, "Why can't I make myself work with that same efficiency?"

It's an interesting, very vulnerable part to have to her. Sydney knows five languages, she's well traveled, and she seems like someone who should not be fazed by anything. Yet there's this little tiny thing that nags at her. I think that's an interesting piece—to have that flaw in someone who we would otherwise think is so "with it" and well-rounded.

GR: Some have criticized Twilight for having an anti-feminist message, interpreting Bella as a weak woman enthralled by a possessive and much more powerful man. When writing for younger readers, do you feel the author has a responsibility to craft a positive message, whether it's determining whether your heroine is empowered or including relatable teen issues like body image?

RM: It's hard for me to imagine writing a character without strength. There's not even a conscious process about making a role model or anything like that. When I look back after I've created the character, I'm glad that I can provide an image to someone. But I don't think I would be interested in writing a character that I couldn't respect. And I think that the best characters, the strongest ones who do give us the best positive images, are those who are flawed. I think the characters in all my series—young adult and adult—have certain qualities when you meet them: Sydney's braininess or Rose's bravery. That's their dominant trait. And then they've got all these little things that make them "human," and I think that makes us respect the strength more.

GR: Goodreads member Alana asks, "Do you feel you need to sacrifice some of Adrian's bad boy ways in order to make him a viable romantic lead?"

RM: Yes and no. It's part of his charm and personality, and you can't give someone a complete 180. The totally reformed bad boy—I'm not sure that's realistic. At the same time, someone who's completely in the mode we've seen Adrian in cannot enter a relationship. Not because he's "bad" but because there's an element of selfishness with his persona. It's less that all his vices are inhibiting a relationship and more that he needs to start thinking beyond himself. It's not just about him anymore. He's got to shake some of it if he's going to seriously enter into something that has trust and affection, but to completely get rid of all that wildness wouldn't really fit either.

GR: By the end of this year you will have written 18 books in six years. You also have two adult series coming to conclusion: Georgina Kincaid's final book and the Dark Swan series final book. Are you brainstorming fresh ideas for what you'll be working on next?

RM: I would certainly like to get another adult series out there, and I've had some ideas. I'm just sitting on it at the moment. I'm also trying to slow myself down because the past few years have just been crazy aggressive. I have a baby on the way, so I don't have the luxury of pulling out these crazy three-book-a-year deadlines where I'm doing all-nighters to get it all in. Suddenly my time has to be reprioritized. I hope that once I get used to the baby and he gets on his own schedule—I would like to get back into that groove and have one other series going on. I think two would be pretty manageable, a young adult and an adult. So we'll see.

GR: You'll be doing all-nighters of a different kind with a new baby.

RM: Yes, exactly. [Laughs.] I won't have time for writing-all-nighters for a while.

GR: Supernatural creatures come in and out of vogue in young adult fantasy literature. Right now it's the summer of mermaid books. Have vampires had their heyday? Are they a subject you want to continue writing about?

RM: I would be surprised if I were writing about them ten years down the road. And that's probably just for my own mental peace. I would have to move on just for myself. But vampires—they just don't go away. We're in a current trend with them with adult urban fantasy and the Twilight popularity creating a kind of vampire archetype. Before that we had Anne Rice's kind of vampires, and looking back you can just keep going back and back all the way to Bram Stoker. People are always coming up with the next cool paranormal creature; it's mermaids and shape-shifters shifting into things I never would have imagined they should. And you think, "Oh, maybe it's because vampires are going out of vogue." But they always come back. So I don't think vampires are going to lose popularity; I think it's going to shift. The kindly vampires we were just talking about may shift into something else. I was just reading a book that's coming out next year that's a mix of dystopian with some very evil, bloodthirsty vampires thrown in, and that's a neat evolution to see.

GR: Do you want to write outside of the world of fantasy?

RM: I will probably always be in fantasy sister genres of some kind. I'm certainly not going to make a transition into westerns or anything that far off. But the cluster of sci-fi fantasy, that's always been of interest to me. So I'm not sure where I'll go, but I can't always imagine it being this exact same niche of paranormal romance urban fantasy. I would have to do something at least one-off from that. But again, it will always have something fantastic in it.

GR: Goodreads member Crystal asks, "[Has] she considered writing any other spin-off series from any of her previous works?"

RM: It's something I would consider, but it's not something I would consider immediately. They're the kind of books that are going to need a break. So it would be years down the road that I come back and check in and see how everyone is doing. I'm not saying it's impossible or possible, just that it would be a little while, and I'll shift into something else adult-oriented in the meantime.

GR: Describe a typical day spent writing. Do you have any unusual writing habits?

RM: A typical workday usually starts with catching up on e-mail, which is insane when you live on the West Coast and the world of publishing has been up for three hours ahead of you. Once I get that out of the way I try to put in a normal workday. When I was younger I was particularly into the all-nighters. But now with my husband, if I want to see him it's nice to have my work done at 5 or 6—just like a real person. That's definitely my goal, and it's also essential when you're keeping schedules with all these books. You have to treat it like a workday.

I don't leave the house; I'm too distractible in coffee shops. So it's just me and the cats for the afternoon, hoping we get our work done. So many authors go to cool places. "I'm writing on the beach today!" Or playlists—that's a big thing, writing to music. For me, the less stimuli in the world around me, the better. I just want to focus solely on the writing. I don't want the interesting scenery, I don't want the music, and that doesn't seem strange to me until I start talking to other people who have all that cool stuff going on. I need a cone of silence.

GR: What authors, books, or ideas have influenced your writing?

RM: If I look back at my childhood books, I liked a lot of the "girl books," like Anne of Green Gables, which you wouldn't think has any bearing on what I write. But they're so character driven, and that's what I took away. It doesn't matter what the setting is, it's the characters. That's what the reader falls in love with. And when I was in my teens I started finding a lot of fantasy and sword and sorcery books. The Dragonlance franchise, which was kind of a spin-off of Dungeons & Dragons, was a huge favorite. Their flagship authors Margaret Weiss and Tracy Hickman were just masters, creating these wonderful characters and putting them in action plots, but you loved the characters so much that you forgot about the action. That's the way my writing has developed.

GR: What are you reading now?

RM: I'm reading, like so many others right now, A Dance with Dragons by George R.R. Martin. It's a book that's going to take a while. He's another great character author.

Comments Showing 1-50 of 51 (51 new)

message 1: by Airaseem (new)

Airaseem Perdomo LOVE Richelle Mead

message 2: by Michelle (new)

Michelle Idk if its editing but richelle speaks like a book. Like a book she answers a question in order, giving away a little of the answer bit by bit until the end. Such a neat and interesting person. Im wishing this girly well wishes :)

message 3: by Ruth (new)

Ruth I just love reading Richelle Mead's novels

message 4: by Debbie (new)

Debbie never read any but thinking of it now.

message 5: by Alana (new)

Alana Thanks to Goodreads for including some of my questions -- and thanks to Richelle Mead for answering them!

Melissa  Paranormally Romanced Thanks for this interview. I love reading anyhting Richelle writes. I agree with her. What makes a book for me are the characters. There personalities, growth, decisions and everything in between. i have grown to care so much for the VA characters because I know who they are and what they would do in certain situations. Love love love these books.

message 7: by Allyce (new)

Allyce Bebensee Thanks for the interview. I can not stop reading Vampire Academy. I have read at least twice since I got all six of the books. I can not wait for Bloodlines to come out. Great books!

message 8: by Sande (new)

Sande This sounds wonderful! Can't wait for Bloodlines! I really enjoyed Vampire Academy. Even being an "Older" person.. Thank you so much!

message 9: by Connie (new)


message 10: by Jasna (last edited Aug 07, 2011 02:10AM) (new)

Jasna She`s one of the best writers.
I can`t wait for Bloodlines.

message 11: by Dawn (new)

Dawn Bakewell I think she is my all time fav author. :)

message 12: by Gabbicalabrese (new)

Gabbicalabrese God, RichellE Mead is amazing. I've read the VA books 7 times and I am so excited for Bloodlines.

message 13: by Katie (new)

Katie Love both Richelle Mead and her writing. The Vampire Academy was definitely one of my favorite series ever and I still freak out at all of my favorite parts!!! Can't wait for Bloodlines, I'm sure it will be just as awesome!

message 14: by Jacks (new)

Jacks Fantastic questions and answers thanks for that
Richelle Mead is amazing I have read all of her books so far more than them all.
Cannot wait for Bloodlines yippeee :-)

message 15: by Hweeps (new)

Hweeps I love how she speaks about her characters. It's totally true, too-her characters are all really strong and you just can't help respecting them. All her protagonists kick ass! I love any and everything Richelle Mead writes, she's truly brilliant.

Hope she has a safe delivery! :D

message 16: by aedenreads (new)

aedenreads Michelle wrote: "Idk if its editing but richelle speaks like a book. Like a book she answers a question in order, giving away a little of the answer bit by bit until the end. Such a neat and interesting person. Im ..."

Haha!! She speaks like a book?? I never noticed that until you said it. LOL!! it's 4:17 am right now and girl, I'm not tired at all. :P :)

message 17: by Misty (new)

Misty I cant wait to read bloodlines. Wish it was here already.

message 18: by Zoecollins (new)

Zoecollins I love Richelle Mead!! I've read the Vampire Academy and Georgina Kincaid books and I'm just about to start the Dark Swan series, I can't wait for Bloodlines and Sucubus Revealed, both out this month!!! She is awesome and my new favourite author. :D

message 19: by Cinthia (new)

Cinthia I love ALL Richelle's books and I'm so excited for all releases... Bloodlines, Succubus, Dark Swan.

Richelle Mead rocks!

message 20: by Shannon (new)

Shannon I have to agree with everyone else I love your books I am re reading Georgina Kincaid books now in preparation for the last book and of course Bloodlines. I want more Adrian!!

message 21: by Bookaholic (new)

Bookaholic i love the vampire academy series!Im going to miss rose though, she was such a great character! i hope shes in bloodlines cant wait to read it!<3 adrian and dimitri

message 22: by Coral (new)

Coral I absolutely love Richelle Mead and her series, and this interview was quite interesting to read. She's one of my favorites.

However, I don't think it's fair to attribute strength only to finesse or raw power. There are a lot of characters in the literary world that show their strength through morals or love or mental energy. No, I'm not just talking about Bella from Twilight. (Although I think she gets less credit than she deserves.) Strength isn't *always* about how easily you can chop a strigoi's head off with an ax. Sometimes it means loving someone who is imperfect, or sacrificing yourself to a greater power for the ones you love, or choosing not to kill someone you hate.

I think strength has many different forms. Brute strength is just one of them. And what I realized a little while ago was that... Comparing novels is the worst thing you can do. They are always about different things, with different characters, and different mindsets. Comparing books that have little to nothing in common besides popularity isn't a good thing to do. You're just setting yourself up to hate what you read.

I'm not looking for a fight. The rest of the interview was fantastic. I enjoyed it a lot. This is just some food for thought.

message 23: by MeMe Belikova (new)

MeMe Belikova First lady Ivashkov I LOVE richelle Mead!!!

message 24: by Kyla (new)

Kyla Gergely I absolutely love all of Richelle Mead's work!

message 25: by Gabbicalabrese (new)

Gabbicalabrese Coral wrote: "I absolutely love Richelle Mead and her series, and this interview was quite interesting to read. She's one of my favorites.

However, I don't think it's fair to attribute strength only to finesse ..."

I totally understand what you're saying, but Rose has more strong sttributes than just her physical ability to impale Strigoi. She overcomes multiple mental struggles: having the darkness from Lissa consume her mind - and still be okay with taking it from Lissa. Loving Dimitri after he turned Strigoi and tried to kill her multiple times. Reputation issues due to her impulsive nature. Overcoming that impulsive nature to keep her best friend safe. Dedicating her life to protecting her best friend even if it meant she was going to die young. Seeing ghosts. Having one of her best friends die.

I could continue but I believe that my point is clear. Rose faced so many obstacles that the majority of girls cannot even fathom. She never gave up, though. She never lost sight of what is important to her. She didn't sit around and wait for action to come to her. Rose is a strong character and the fact that she totally kicks bad-guy ass is just an added bonus to her strength.

But yeah, I totally get what you're saying, I just don't believe that it applies to Rose's character.

message 26: by Kaylors (new)

Kaylors It's one philosophy I've been a fan of all along: characters drive the story, the setting is just a vehicle. It's why I enjoy multiple genres even if they have clashing ideologies. I make my connection with the character and not the fictional universe in which the operate.

Good show Richelle, I'll definitely read your books someday.

message 27: by Sam (last edited Aug 10, 2011 09:42PM) (new)

Sam I was a fan of the Succubus series first. But got completely hooked on the whole Rose/Dimitri thing too. So I had no choice but to read the Dark Swan series. Can't wait for Bloodlines!!!

message 28: by Thaer (new)

Thaer she is fantastic in all her books

message 29: by Baneen (new)

Baneen I love Richelle Mead!!!

message 30: by bisskiss (new)

bisskiss Great interview. I'm a big fan of her Succubus series and her Dark Swan series. I love how she brings her characters to life. Can't wait for the next books!

message 31: by Namida... (new)

Namida... Coral wrote: "I absolutely love Richelle Mead and her series, and this interview was quite interesting to read. She's one of my favorites.

However, I don't think it's fair to attribute strength only to finesse ..."

well said coral ^^ it doesn't benefit anyone to live on hatred, although many people feel more superior when they say they hate a certain book, like 'i was smart enough to realize it's trash but everyone else is just so trivial for loving it' (i know cuz i'm sorta one of those people by default) when actually someone who loves should feel more superior than someone who hates.
also ur words "Comparing books that have little to nothing in common besides popularity isn't a good thing to do" again completely agree...

Shaun wrote: "It's one philosophy I've been a fan of all along: characters drive the story, the setting is just a vehicle. It's why I enjoy multiple genres even if they have clashing ideologies. I make my connec..."

yeah one of my philosophies as well, characters are what stays with you after the book and the plot maybe long gone from your mind, you know them, you can put them in situations of your imagination bec you know them all so well. I really love Richelle Mead's humour, battle scenes and way of writing but most of all, her characters, look at VA: good story, but Characters: Brilliantly shaped!

message 32: by Sara (new)

Sara is dimitri going to b in the spin off? i <3 Dimitri!!!!! i love your books Richelle Mead!!!!!

message 33: by Coral (new)

Coral Sara wrote: "is dimitri going to b in the spin off? i <3 Dimitri!!!!! i love your books Richelle Mead!!!!!"

Last I checked, Sara, Rose and Dimitri were going to show up every once and a while, but as far as I know, the story isn't about them, and therefore is not from their viewpoints. I think they might be featured every once and a while, but not all that often.

It's a little disappointing, but I remember Sydney, Eddie, and Adrian were going to be in the spin-off. I think it'll be interesting.

message 34: by Gabbicalabrese (new)

Gabbicalabrese Honestly, who cares about Dimitri and Rose? I mean, I love Rose and all, but they had their happy ending. Putting them back in the book just means that not everything is all hunky-dory. And who wants that? Adrian, Sydney, Eddie and Jill sort of got screwed over in the end, they need their time to shine. Especially Adrian.

Pshhht, I'm obviously not team Adrian. Of course not, no.

message 35: by Sara (new)

Sara Coral wrote: "Sara wrote: "is dimitri going to b in the spin off? i

Last I checked, Sara, Rose and Dimitri were going to show up every once and a while, but as far as I know, the story isn't about them, and th..."

thanks its good to no nd i agree itll be interesting to c what happened to rose and dimitris friends.

message 36: by Ami (new)

Ami Blackwelder I thought I was the only author out there who needed a quiet, alone space to write....I've tried doing what other writers have said: going to book cafes, playing music, the you- its so distracting- I don't know how they do it.

I like to curl up with tea, by a window and my labtop...or if I'm real adventurous go onto my porch...but no one better be around...HEHE..
And my Siamese cat Lotus is always curled next to me....perhaps giving me one too many typos. (Thanks for editors)


message 37: by Amanda (new)

Amanda loved bloodlines!!!

Check out my review of it here:

message 38: by Kübra ℂ⋆ (new)

Kübra ℂ⋆ WOW!!!!!!! SOO GOOD! I LOVE HER!

message 39: by Rebeljeshada (new)

Rebeljeshada loveee V.A.!! LET'S SEE WHAT BLOODLINES IS ABOUT...:-)

message 40: by Sorceressjoan (new)

Sorceressjoan Interesting. I want read this soon

message 41: by Rebecca (new)

Rebecca Gabbicalabrese wrote: "Honestly, who cares about Dimitri and Rose? I mean, I love Rose and all, but they had their happy ending. Putting them back in the book just means that not everything is all hunky-dory. And who wan..."

completely agree!

message 42: by Brittney (new)

Brittney Dean i love your book "the vampire academy" is my favoret book series ever...i have read them alot of times and im reading your new series "bloodlines" i hope it is as good as your last one...i wish you would make another series about Rose Hathaway and Dimitri Belikov and their relationship and if they stay together...but i love your books thank you for writing them

message 43: by [deleted user] (new)

Eeep! I love, love, LOVE Richelle Mead and the Vampire Academy Series. They came jut as I was losing interest in vampires. Totally hooked on Bloodlines... and I will definitely be keeping a close eye on the story. Can't wait for the next book.

message 44: by Janine (new)

Janine she reads got?! *loves her even more*

message 45: by Gabby (new)

Gabby I LOVE Richelle Mead, all her books are amazing. and i can't wait to get a bit older so i can read her Adult fiction :)

Vampire Academy series is still at the top of my 'Favourite books EVER list' :)

message 46: by Marce (new)

Marce Jimenez I love you Richelle great books all VA and Bloodlines i cant wait for more adrian!!!!

message 47: by Nathaly (last edited Oct 22, 2013 02:38PM) (new)

Nathaly Richelle Mead im soo in love with ur book. love u Richelle Mead

message 48: by Sharon (new)

Sharon Is there gojng to be a whole book with Dimitri's POV? The chapter with his POV was AMAZING!

message 49: by Priscila (last edited Nov 01, 2013 08:24AM) (new)

Priscila Thanks! <3

message 50: by Renee (new)

Renee wait, isn't there going to be a new interview? O.o?

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