Annie’s Book Stop of Worcester is happy to shine our Friday spotlight on YA Author Ellen Schreiber. Ellen is the NY Times Best-selling author of the Vampire Kisses series and the NY Times Bestselling manga—Vampire Kisses—Blood Relatives. She is also the author of the stand alone books, Teenage Mermaid and Comedy books and The Once in a Full Moon series.
What was the inspiration for Vampire Kisses? What were the steps you took to bring it from initial inspiration to the finished book?
The inspiration for Vampire Kisses came to me in three phases. A character, an obsession, and Johnny Depp! Lol.
I saw some goth girls swinging on swings one day in the middle of summer. I liked the image of the dark clothes against the bright sunshine. I also wanted to write about a fearless girl, rebellious and headstrong. So I combined both the image and the personality into Raven. Then, I thought she’d be obsessed with something and it popped into my mind, ‘Vampires!’ At the time, in the late 1990’s, the books and movies I was familiar with in that genre were blood thirsty vampires. I wanted to write about the eternal love part of the vampire—why a vampire desires and needs to bond with someone for eternity—and who that would be. So that is how Alexander’ began.
Then I thought about Johnny Depp! And I had my mysterious and hot, romantic vampire! 🙂
What character did you love or hate the most while writing? And why?
I loved writing the character of Raven. I got to run around in cemeteries and explore haunted houses and do all the fearless things I could never imagine doing in real life. I also loved writing Alexander, as he was so romantic and a perfectly handsome soul mate for Raven. But for sure, Trevor Mitchell, was my most surprising character. I wanted Raven to have some romantic tension with a guy in the beginning of the book and knew that Alexander wouldn’t be appearing in the novel right away.
Before I wrote the first Vk novel, I’d just met a guy while waiting for my plane at the airport. He had piercing green eyes and perfectly blonde hair. I decide to use him for the image of Trevor and that is how I began his character. Trevor was supposed to be a minor character in the book, but he kept coming back when I’d write another scene. Scene after scene, he kept popping up and tormenting Raven. It happened so often, that he wound up becoming a main character in the novels and plot points throughout the series.
What is your favorite part of being a writer? Of the whole writing and publishing process? What do you think has been your greatest lesson in the journey thus far?
My favorite part is writing, just sitting down and letting the characters tell their story. I love to get in the zone and have the characters speak and act as they move within their world and react to each other. I am so happy when I can be creative and not worry about anything else but what I’m doing at the moment. And being published, I was so lucky that my editor has always allowed me to be part of the cover design decisions. Meeting her and having that relationship and friendship has also been amazing. And it has been overwhelming to see the books in a store and meet readers at book signings. Every part of the writing process has been exceptional, but meeting the readers who respond to Raven so dearly have been something that I never imagined and they’ve been so inspirational to me, as well.
I also like to go to schools and libraries and talk about the process of writing and publishing. It is really exciting to see young writers so enthusiast about writing and help them to overcome such things as writers block.
What piece of advice would you want to share with other writers?
Just enjoy writing.
You can spend months or even years writing a book. And if it is published, you spend a lot of time promoting the book, so you want to enjoy the work itself. Also, I think it’s a good idea to share your work with someone you trust to give you honest and useful advice. It is best to have the work cleaned up as much as possible before sending it off to an agent or publisher and friends, family, or professional editors can be very helpful.
What is/are your passions when you’re not writing? How do you make time for your non-writing hobbies/things you love?
I love playing superheroes and mermaids with my kiddos. They are so much fun and so creative. They keep me busy so I write when they are in school or have gone to bed. And I’ve learned so much from them and what their interests are and what is cool to them. I also love to shop at Target and collect funKawaii things that inspire my writing.
What does your writing space look like? What do you need to have around you while writing or editing?
When I’m writing Vampire Kisses, I usually had spiderweb tablecloth on my desk underneath my desktop computer or a spiderweb placemat underneath my laptop. I also would paint my fingernails black. It helped me get in the mood. I like to also decorate the room with pictures and have figures around me—vampires, etc, or mermaids depending on the book.
What is one thing that most people don’t realize about you?
That my books were first published in Europe. My brother had several novels published in Europe and when I wrote my first book, Johnny Lightning, he showed it to a publisher in Antwerp. They published it and that is how I was first published. I was so happy to be published! But when the book came out, it was kind of odd because I couldn’t even read them because they were in Dutch, or see them in the European book stores. It took a few more years to get published here in the US. Then I could see the novels on the bookshelves and read them and it was really thrilling! 🙂
What has been your favorite adventure during your writing career?
One of my favorites was working on the VAMPiRE KISSES manga series. I love reading manga and when I Was offered the opportunity to turn the Vampire Kisses series into a manga, I jumped at the chance. It was so cool to see the characters and the town of Dullsville come to life! The artists were amazing and so talented. I also had to write new stories and new characters in the manga series, so it wasn’t just an adaptation of the original novels.
It was really exiting to have a whole new gang of vampires and write those new characters’ stories. I also loved the process of collaborating with the artists and seeing the characters transform from sketches, to color, to final artwork. It was truly a magical experience!
While you’re writing, do you prefer music, silence, other? Please elaborate!
I usually write to music—80’s to modern. I play the same song obsessively over and over again. Then I’ll find another that I really like and play it till I can’t hear it anymore. 🙂 It helps get in the mood of a scene that I am writing.
What do you consider the most challenging part of the writing process? And how do you overcome that?
The editing part I think is the hardest. Before it goes to publication, I tend to obsess over every word or punctuation. But I know I just try to make a decision on what to cut or keep and move on. It is like getting a haircut—trimming up the loose ends to shape it up.
Are there any groups, clubs, or organizations that you would recommend to other writers that have helped you in your career?
SCBWI is a great organization. They have workshops and events where new writers can meet published writers, agents, and publishers. They also have a column where they announce the latest news in the publishing business. That is how I found out about sending my book, Teenage Mermaid, to an editor at HarperCollins who was looking for new authors! And that is how I began being published in the US! 🙂
Speaking of that, where can people find your work? (Besides Annie’s Book Stop of Worcester—though they should totally check here first!)
Yes! Annie’s Book Stop of Worcester totally rocks!!! Readers can also find my books online at Amazon and Barnes and Nobles and Target.com and other independent bookstores such as Jospeh-Beth Booksellers and Books-a-Million.
Readers can also find the novels at their local libraries.
How can we follow your work and share your awesomeness?
You are so sweet! You can follow me on FaceBook-Ellen Schreiber and twitter @ellenschreiber. And my website is http://www.ellenschreiber.com
When in doubt, try ellenschreiber Lol!
Thanks so much for taking the time out of your busy schedule to answer our questions, Ellen!