You worked as fashion and beauty editor and have written for many publications including The New York Times, Harper's Bazaar and Cosmopolitan and appeared as a trend expert on CNN, E! and other television networks. When you turned to novel writing, what brought you to YA? And why myths, magic and the paranormal?
I wrote a novel called Cat's Meow that was about a broke New York socialite, and an editor at S&S thought my voice would lend itself well to YA. The Au Pairs and Fresh off the Boat were both contemporary YA books. I turned to fantasy when I got the idea to write a vampire series in 2003, thinking no one was writing about vampires! Horror and fantasy were my favorite genres as a teen. I loved Stephen King and Anne Rice, and I thought it would be cool to reinvent a vampire myth. I wrote Frozen with my husband so we could reinvent the dragon genre. We like to put our own spin on things we love.
One of the things I like about your various series is the variety of female protagonists. What are the advantages to writing multiple protagonists for you? Was it a challenge to narrow it down to one, as you did in FROZEN?
I love writing about many different girls and their POVs, that's really interesting to me. It was a little different in Frozen to just have Nat's POV, but we also had Wes, so that balanced it out.
Your Witches of East End series has been turned into a series on Lifetime starring Julia Ormond (beginning in October). What has this been like for you? Have you been able to consult on the series?
Yes I am a consulting producer on it. I was able to visit the set and meet the cast. It's been an awesome ride, really fun and easy and surreal. The hard thing is I'm getting used to it--the billboards, the ads, all the kudos - I'm not letting it get to my head, but now I just take it for granted, like, oh THERE WILL ALWAYS BE BILLBOARDS IN LA WITH MY TV SHOW. Then I have to slap myself because it won't last. I think the show will last, but you know, they do take the billboards down. I think I'm old enough thankfully to understand this is just work. It's nice, and it's fun, but in the end, it's just work.
FROZEN is the first in a new series. It's also a departure for you as it's set in a dystopian world. What drew you to dystopian fiction? How did you go about creating this totally different world? Can you tell us a little about the series?
Frozen is set in a post-apocalyptic world, wherein the earth is in a new Ice Age, science and technology have broken down, but now magic is seeping back into life. We wanted to write a 'cool' epic fantasy and combine it with the grittiness of a dark dystopian future. How do you make elves cool? We decided we would plonk them in a world of Generation Kill meets Battlestar Galactica. It's about a young blackjack dealer with a secret who hires a handsome but untrustworthy mercenary to help her get out of this broken world and to a rumored paradise called "the Blue." It's an adventure with slavers, pirates, zombies, and a dragon!
What's coming next for you?
The sequel to FROZEN is out next fall. I also have THE RING AND THE CROWN my new series with Disney Hyperion about four girls and their quest for love and power. The Blue Bloods spinoff THE VAMPIRES OF MANHATTAN also debuts next year.
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QUICKIES WITH MELISSA:
Writing ambience: Silence.
To outline or not to outline: Outline.
Book(s) she wishes she could read again for the first time: THE RETURN OF THE KING (Lord of the Rings book 3).
What she's reading now: THE BURNING SKY by Sherry Thomas - it's great!
What period in history she'd most like to visit: The Roaring Great Gatsby 1920s. To go to the parties.
Favorite online resource: Rhyming Dictionary.
What she wishes she had known when she started writing: That you would have to go on book tour and they are not glamorous, they are brutally hard work.
If she could meet one of her characters: Probably Oliver Hazard-Perry. He has a great sense of humor and great taste, I'm sure we'd eat well
If she could have one superpower: The ability to have 60 hour days and be up for them. That way I'd meet my deadlines easier.