Interview with Richelle Mead

Posted by Goodreads on November 13, 2013
Richelle Mead Rose, the butt-kicking central vampire in Richelle Mead's best-selling Vampire Academy series, is one tough act to follow. Of the thousands of questions you sent in for this interview, a significant percentage asked why Richelle chose to tell the spin-off series, Bloodlines, in the voice of a much quieter character like Rose's friend Sydney, a shy young Alchemist whose role is to keep the vampire world a secret from humans. Her reticent personality and lack of fighting skills were exactly the point, says Richelle. "Sydney has to think her way out of a lot of situations, and I hope readers see that's just as powerful as physically fighting your way out. Most of us, in the real world, aren't action heroes, and I wanted to show that you can be a strong woman with your mind as well as your fists." In the soon-to-be-released The Fiery Heart, the fourth Bloodlines book, we learn the outcome of Sydney's shocking decision at the end of the previous book.

Read on as Richelle answers your questions about relationships, character creation, and how she gets your emotions all stirred up!

Danielle Egan: What was the toughest thing you had to go through when writing The Fiery Heart?

Mostly just finding the time! That's always my problem with books. I know readers feel like it takes "forever" for a book to come out, but only a portion of that lead time is spent writing the book, and I'm usually working on another book at the same time. Keeping on my publishers' schedules can be tough, but fortunately the plot of The Fiery Heart was one I'd been thinking about for a long time. I'd known most of the events in it (which are key ones in the series, by the way) were happening even when I wrote the first Bloodlines book, so I had things pretty well planned out. When that happens, writing a book can fly right by, and that happily did this time!

A lot of Vampire Academy fans want more Rose and Dimitri! Leiyya asks: In what way do you think that Rose and Dimitri's love story is different from any other love story?

Rose and Dimitri have both appeared frequently throughout the Bloodlines series and will continue to do so. If I ever go back to writing books that focus on them, the events in the Bloodlines series will play key roles in what happens to them. Every relationship is unique, and that's because every person is unique. You'll always have something special and different when two individuals get together, especially when you have people as passionate and driven as Rose and Dimitri. They have very strong personalities on their own, and all of those things get amped up when they're together. It makes their love story a lot of fun to write.

Galathys: I love Sydney and Adrian's relationship. It's one of the most believable and beautiful love stories I've read. I love the fact that it is very progressive and not love at first sight. What inspired their relationship?

I wanted to write a love story where the couple had to focus on obstacles within themselves, not just huge supernatural forces keeping them apart (though they certainly have plenty of those, too!). Sydney and Adrian's own personality quirks are what cause them trouble a lot of the time, and learning to deal with those is part of the journey of them being together. I think that's true for a lot of relationships in the real world. Monsters and prophecies don't keep couples apart. People do that on their own just fine.

Courtie Anderson: In your personal life, do you believe that love conquers all?

I think love is very powerful in all its forms, be it love between friends or that of parents and children. I'm guessing this question is about romantic love, and that, too, is very powerful. If you're with a person who respects and loves you for who you are and can be a strong partner in life, then you can get through many, many obstacles. What I think is important for people to remember is that love in real life is often even more complicated than that in books! I've met people who think if they don't find "the one" by the time they're 20, their life is over. That's not true. Sometimes it takes a while, and that's OK. Sometimes you love different people throughout your life and move on as you grow and change, and that's OK, too. Whether you find someone when you're young or it takes many years, what truly matters is that the one you end up with is someone who appreciates who you are, treats you with love and respect, and is a partner not afraid of pulling his or her equal share in the relationship.

Kymberly Whitacre: Is it hard as a writer to fluctuate between viewpoints on religion, especially since Age of X has many different ideas on the topic? And do your personal views ever interfere with what you are writing?

I have a master's degree in comparative religion, so I've spent a lot of time studying all sorts of religions, which definitely helps with writing this series. I also grew up with a love of mythology from around the world. All of these things have helped me develop a great respect and appreciation for many different faiths, and I've actually found that's more of an asset than an interference.

Richelle at a book signing in Seattle.


Dimitrinka: All the women in your books are fierce, independent, and beautiful—is that intentional? How important are the looks of said characters in a good story?

Fierceness and independence are absolutely intentional. Those are important characteristics that I like all my heroines to have in one form or another. Their looks are important only if it affects the plot. If a character has enough baggage and problems going on, I'm not going to give them warts, unless that figures into the problems they're having. And sometimes, even when they don't seem to have physical problems, they invent them—like Sydney, who has a wonderful figure but constantly worries about losing weight in the first half of the Bloodlines series. To me, that kind of thinking is pretty common in real life. People are often much more attractive than they realize but get hung up on some flaw that hurts their self-esteem. It's something that plagues both teens and adults.

Autumnrose: I always find your books an emotional whirl! I laugh out loud, I weep, I almost can't read for tension. How do you go about creating these books that can reach out the paper and affect us on such an emotional level?

My goal has always been to make the characters feel real. Even if they're dealing with magical situations, I work to make their emotions and thoughts relatable to readers. My characters hurt and love just like we do, and I'm always conscious of that while writing. Sometimes that involves capturing an emotion I've had and putting it on paper. Other times I'll ask, "OK, is this really how a person would feel in that situation?" It's easy to fall into clichés or two dimensions as a writer, and I strive to stay away from those traps to give my readers the most powerful stories I can.

Candi Smith: Do you ever struggle with the decision to have a character die?

I've never struggled with a character death because I never kill them without reason. If it happens, there's a specific purpose that fits into the larger part of the book or series. Generally, if we can keep that character around longer, I'm happy to do so. One of the most notorious deaths I've written happens in Shadow Kiss—again, furthering the plot.

Darshana: Any advice to an aspiring writer on how to go about planning a character's traits and quirks, and then sticking to their personality the whole way through?

Authors often refer to what's called "the iceberg rule" in writing. Basically it means you do a ton of planning and research on something, but readers only see "the tip" of it, and only you, the writer, know about the rest below the surface. This is true for both world building and character development. Before you start writing the book, plan out all sorts of things about your characters. Make sheets on what they like, what they dislike, what their histories are, etc. The better you know them, the better you'll be able to work in their unique traits and voice into the writing. Readers may never see all the research you've done, but that's OK. What matters is that you know your character better than anyone and can authentically tell their story.

Richelle on set with the cast of Vampire Academy.
Emilie: When you were visiting the set for Vampire Academy: Blood Sisters, what was the funniest moment you had?

Honestly I can't think of any super-funny moments from that experience. My biggest emotions were awe and amazement at the incredible work they did. I was pretty starstruck the whole time! The crew put so much detail into everything, from the sets to the costumes, and the cast did take after take without complaint. I couldn't believe that hundreds of people were working so hard on my book. If anything, the funniest things I ran into were the dialogue! They were filming a very well-known classroom scene from the books, and screenwriter Daniel Waters gave Rose and Christian some hilarious lines. Fans of the books will love it.


Comments Showing 1-28 of 28 (28 new)

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message 1: by Monique (new)

Monique Kovac AHH! There's still so much I want to know! Is she ever going to finish the Dark Swan series?? If she was considering doing another spin-off to VA, would she consider Dimitri's family in Russia? Like one of his sisters? Preferably Viktoria. That would be awesome.

And the iceberg rule. Hmm. Interesting. I would kill to read Richelle's pages and history for Dimitri. I'd probably die.

I just love the way Richelle writes, and I love all her bad-butt protagonists, they just inspire the whole heck outta me.

I'm counting down the days til TFH get's released. And I'm dying counting down the months til Blood Sisters comes to theaters.

I didn't know Mead had a degree in religion. Now it's makes total and complete sense. Pretty much the entire VA series deals with religion and different types of people (Moroi, Strigoi, Dhampir, Alchemists, etc). That's amazing how she incorporated her studies in the series. It just shows how much college really does help.

And I don't know if it's just me, or is Mead considering picking back up with VA's Rose and Dimitri? "If I ever go back to writing books that focus on them..."

I think I would just about roll over and die if she actually did. Great, now I have another dozen questions that won't be answered.

I think I read too quickly. I need to enjoy this. Time to read it over again...


message 2: by Priscilla (last edited Nov 15, 2013 09:57PM) (new)

Priscilla TF Nikki wrote: "AHH! There's still so much I want to know! Is she ever going to finish the Dark Swan series?? If she was considering doing another spin-off to VA, would she consider Dimitri's family in Russia? Lik..."

I am so with you on everything you said.


message 3: by Renée (new)

Renée Thanks so much to Richelle Mead for taking the time to answer all these questions! Can't wait for The Fiery Heart out in 3 days!

And I can't wait to see more of Sydney and Adrian's relationship!


message 4: by Sarah (new)

Sarah SOOOOOOOO EXCITED FOR TFH!!!!!

THANK YOU FOR WRITING AMAZING BOOKS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


message 5: by Darshana (new)

Darshana Eeep, thank you for answering my question, it really does help! Also, I can safely say that Rose is such an inspiration as a strong, kick ass heroine. Ah. I'm looking forward to The Fiery Heart, and I'm very excited for Blood Sisters.

Thank you for being such an amazing author!


message 6: by Abby (new)

Abby I love Richelle Mead! Especially what she said about love and giving her characters emotion. She really does make the stories feel real and that genuiness is part of why I love the VA and Bloodlines series. The scene in Last Sacrifice between Adrian and Rose when he confronted her still gives me shivers. She's definitely one of my favourite authors!


message 7: by BookWorm 221 (new)

BookWorm 221 I was hoping my question made it to the interview :( I want to know more about the Age of X series


message 8: by Celeste (new)

Celeste I'm 50 and have had 25 surgeries myself. Cancer 3 times, 5 brain surgeries. Had to learn to walk and talk twice. You never know what tomorrow brings!! I am looking forward to reading some of these books. I feel like all women have to be strong.


message 9: by Becky (new)

Becky Petrie I have read all of your books and love love love them. I really want to know if you are considering about continuing the Dark Swan series, I really want to know if Dorian ever finds out that he's the father or about the lives of the children. Looking forward to the release of The Fiery Heart!


message 10: by Kiara (new)

Kiara Aw, Richelle Mead is awesome! Not only does she write the most AMAZING books of all time with the most inspirational, interesting and believable characters with the best dialogue I've seen an author come up with, but even her answers to these questions are something I feel inspired by!

Can't wait to read The Fiery Heart! :)


message 11: by Naomi (new)

Naomi Davies looks good. i will try to read it. :p


message 12: by Xin Ping (new)

Xin Ping How did you get the idea of writing your books?


message 13: by Lexee (new)

Lexee Oh my gosh, thank you! Richelle Mead, i just have a couple things to ask...
when you wrote the Vampire Academy, did you do research on vampires or was all of the names and types of vampires solely from your awesome imagination? Cause it was brilliant to think of the three different types...
i really enjoy reading those books, because i am interested in that style of writing and also because i am a young writer myself, the way you write is inspiring, i jut wanted to know (if you can answer) how old were you when you started writing? i was about twelve when i started..
i loved your books, thank you for writing them they were a blast to read, and for me an escape from reality... you are an amazing writer and i would love to read more of your books.


message 14: by Lexee (new)

Lexee I actually typed this in october, but i sent it to the person who sent me the message ( ._.) i feel dumb... but i really did enjoy Richelle Mead's books they are a fantastic read...


message 15: by Celeste (new)

Celeste Well,your review was very incouraging. It made me want to picker up a book and start reading


message 16: by Meetu (new)

Meetu Richelle Mead is my favourite author. Her books feels so real, every emotion rose or Sydney has ever felt-pain,anger or love. It feels as if I am watching all the scenes unfurling in front of my eyes even though the its words on a paper. I love how all the characters are thoroughly developed and the world building in the books is just perfect.

I would be the happiest person if she writes another book about rise and dimitri.

And I would proudly say, my heart has been torn into half by Dimitri and Adrian.

Can't wait for my copy of The fiery heart to arrive.....!


message 17: by Lexee (new)

Lexee i know, i didnt even know she was still writing on that series!i love her books... it made my week to see she was still writing them <3 ^_^


message 18: by Becky (new)

Becky Petrie I'm excited for the movie Vampire Academy to come out in February....to see how it matches up with the book. A little disappointed in the actor they choose for Dimitri, doesn't match the books description.


message 19: by Lexee (new)

Lexee Becky wrote: "I'm excited for the movie Vampire Academy to come out in February....to see how it matches up with the book. A little disappointed in the actor they choose for Dimitri, doesn't match the books des..."

yeah, i was disappointed with all of the characters... they didn't match up to me...


message 20: by Phyllis (new)

Phyllis Ramsey Just got the book "Fiery Heart" early Christmas. Present to myself. It is so easy to read and I am enjoying every minute of it. I now own all of the Vampire Academy and Bloodlines books!


message 21: by Delenn (new)

Delenn I cried at the end of "The Fiery Heart". BRING IT ON ALCHEMISTS!!

P.S I hate you zoe, to do that to your own sister, really!?!?!


message 22: by Allif (new)

Allif Pathan ii I'm a very big fan of u...


message 23: by Autumn (new)

Autumn casey I just read a post and I think she has a really good idea that would be really awesome to make another spinoff with Rose and Dimitri. Plus the awesomeness of having the perspective on one of Dimitri's sisters. Seeing as when rose left in Blood Promise when Viktoria and Rose are fighting. They can go and talk about what happened. ( What if she was pregnant and the baby daddy was like a no good jerk.) Then Rose and Dimitri can hunt him down and smack him around a little bit. Or what if the baby daddy was turned into strogi. Then Lissa , Adrian,Or Okansa can join them and turn him back like they did Dimitri. Wow I Hope You do make another spin off, because that would be awesome, terrific, great, wonderful.


message 24: by Autumn (new)

Autumn casey Lexee wrote: "Becky wrote: "I'm excited for the movie Vampire Academy to come out in February....to see how it matches up with the book. A little disappointed in the actor they choose for Dimitri, doesn't match..."

Yea I was like really they Picked him I think a really good actor for Dimitri would be Matthew Gray - Gubler AKA Reed in Criminal minds AKA former model AKA SO HOT!!!!!


message 25: by Kira (new)

Kira I absolutely loved all of the characters for the VA movie. Rose and Dimitri fit like a glove to their characters physically and personality-wise.


message 26: by Lexee (new)

Lexee Autumn wrote: "Lexee wrote: "Becky wrote: "I'm excited for the movie Vampire Academy to come out in February....to see how it matches up with the book. A little disappointed in the actor they choose for Dimitri,..."

yes that is perfect, or I'd even be happy with someone who was Russian, because if the actor is legitly the race as the character then to me it flows better, but im kinda picky.. lol but yes i agree that would have been a brilliant move


message 27: by Monika (last edited Jan 27, 2015 04:22PM) (new)

Monika Gora Cast choice for the movie was brilliant!!! If one day they will do VA 2 without The same actors especially for Dimitri, Rose and Lissa that will be like they shoot themselves in the the foot....!!!!


Love the movie, exactly how I was imagining all characters ;-)))
Love the books, read all the VA in four days... Not to much sleep..;-)))
I will love to see Dimitri and Rose as s main characters again!!!
NEVER ENOUGH OF THOSE TWO :-))) Msybe weeding And a baby.... thanks to The 'spirit'.... can't wait to See it one day ....... xxxx


message 28: by Phyllis (new)

Phyllis Ramsey Lissa and rose were not what I expected in the movie but all in all I lived it and hope they do VA 2 soon. Read all the VA books and all the bloodlines and I'm looking forward to the newest one that just came out!!!


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