LJ Smith is a famous author of few of the well-known young-adult/paranormal series which includes The Vampire Diaries & The Secret Circle (first one’s already a The CW show, the latter still being considered), The Forbidden Game, and Dark Visions to name few. You can visit her through her website.
1. Please tell us a little bit about yourself.
Well, obviously, I like to write. I’ve been making up stories in my head for as long as I can remember—they are my very first memories. Maybe what got me started was that a year and a half after I was born, I got a baby sister. I thought that she was my baby—I had dolls much bigger than she was, and one sight that really horrified my mom and dad was a two-and-a-half-year-old me, staggering into the room under the weight of a healthy one-year-old. They were all like, “Just stand still, Lisa. Don’t drop the baby.” until they could get close enough to nab herfrom me. But my sister and I had one room until I turned eight or so and I would put her to sleepby telling her stories.
My favorite things are walking the trails and beaches of Point Reyes, California, when nobody else but a couple friends of mine are there in the off season. I also collect children’s books from the 1800’s to the 1920’s or so, and I like to keep up to date with the latest scientificachievements. Finally, I have a passion about music.
2. Why did you choose to write YA/paranormal stories? Is there other genre you can envision yourself writing?
This goes back to my quest for magic, which began before I can remember. I was certain that magic existed when I was a kid and I set out to find it. I read all sorts of books, but my favorites were the ones like C. S. Lewis, where perfectly normal children find a magical world. I kept diligently searching for real magic until I was nine, the most magical number of all (3 times 3!).And, although I didn’t completely give up my search until I was twelve (3 times 3 plus 3), I was already getting resigned to the fact that if I wanted magic I was going to have to keep making itfor myself.
Oh, yes, I’d like to write in other genres, too. Mysteries—you might notice that there is atleast one mystery in every book I write, one twist and an aha! moment. I could also write high fantasy—I made up enough of it after reading J. R. R. Tolkien. And science—these days it’s so remarkable that it’s almost a substitute for magic. And then I have been longing for twenty years to write an adult book.
3. What other mythical creatures do you want to write about, and why?
Well, I would probably only write mythical creatures like a Pegasus or a unicorn in a middle-grade (ages 9-11) book. My first two books, Night of the Solstice and Heart of Valor came out as middle grade, although I had been so naïve (Solstice was begun in high school) that I thought they were for YA. Harry Potter hadn’t come along yet, and so my real fantasy books were written with much too high a vocabulary for middle grade.
But I think I’ve already written about just about every supernatural creature you could ask for in the Night World series. Vampires, witches, werewolves, shapechangers, Old Souls, ghouls, prophetesses lamia, Wild Powers, dragons, and when Strange Fate comes out, mystics. Add to that the Norse mythological characters in The Forbidden Game, the kitsune and malach and Old Ones in Vampire Diaries, and the range of psychics in Dark Visions, and I can’t think of anything else!
4. If Kevin Williamson and Julie Plec would be casting an actress to play Meredith on the TV series of The Vampire Diaries and asked for your opinion, who would you want to play it? I love Meredith, by the way.
I’m so sorry—I don’t own a TV (well, I do, but it’s in the exercise room, for watching movies) and I’m totally out of touch with young actresses. Perhaps you could suggest a few?
Me: I thought Eliza Dushku would be nice, but she’s not anywhere near Meredith’s age. Maybe Leighton Meester? But she’s on Gossip Girl already…
5. Among your book leads, who do you think you are closely patterned with, and in what way?
Oh, I’m an Elena in stubbornness, although nothing like her in plotting. I based her looks on mine when I wrote the original Vampire Diaries trilogy twenty years ago—although I gave her blue eyes and not green. I shriek and tremble a lot like Bonnie, but I try to put a Meredith façade on top of it. I guess that actually, out of the Vampire Diaries, I sympathize a lot with Damon—or at least he is very easy to write about and I love to make him whimsical.
I suppose, too, I’m like the Night World’s Mary-Lynnette, because I’m an older sister. I know exactly the protectiveness of two siblings who are close in age, and how the older one frets and even dreams about caring for the younger.
6. The Vampire Diaries is already a TV series, and The Secret Circle is being optioned to be one. But if given the chance that one of your book series would be adapted into a movie, what would it be? Who do you want to play its leads?
Again, I’m so sorry, but I’m just not familiar with the world of young TV or movie actors. And as for which of my books I’d like to see made into a movie or TV show; I’d like The Vampire Diaries to be. I’d like to see something in the show that actually is from the books. As it is, there is nothing of my books in the show except perhaps the relationship between Stefan and Damon.
7. What are the life lessons you want your readers to learn by reading your books?
I would like them to learn:
- That females can be strong characters without being imitation to boys.
- That people of different races, sexes, religions, ethnic backgrounds and creeds can work together in harmony . . . if they have a sense of humor
- That the best way to solve a problem is to get help from friends—I always show my characters working collectively rather than having one single person save themselves—or the world.
- That even if goodness doesn’t triumph over evil, there is no excuse for joining the evil side and swimming with the sharks.
- That humans—and other creatures that can think—should respect each other
- And that redemption is possible, no matter what the deed, no matter what the age of the person to be redeemed.
I think that perhaps the first and the last are most important in my personal philosophy—or maybe the second, too . . . no, I guess they’re all equally important.