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De La Cruz’s Isle of the Lost Portrays Kids as Villains – 2015

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Isle of Lost by Melissa de la Cruz 

May 2015  – An Exclusive Authorlink Interview

By Columnist Doreen Akiyo Yomoah

Isle of the Lost
by Melissa de la Cruz

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Your favorite Disney villains are back in a prequel to the film Disney Descendants (coming this summer). Melissa de la Cruz talks to us about her latest novel, The Isle of the Lost, starring Maleficent and the gang.

“My favorite books growing up were fantasy books.

AUTHORLINK: How did you get into writing fantasy, is it something you’d always done and been interested in?

DE LA CRUZ: I started writing fantasy when I wrote Blue Bloods way back in 2003 (it was published in 2006) when an editor I had worked with at S&S moved to Hyperion and asked me if I’d like to try my hand at something darker. I pitched her a vampire series! (This was way before Twilight.) My favorite books growing up were fantasy books – I read Lord of the Rings at 13, and Dune as well at that age. Those were the books that stayed with me. Then Harry Potter happened and while I read it as a grown-up, I was just as addicted and immersed in them as a kid, it brought back the love of reading I’d had as a teen and it sparked that desire to write something similar.

AUTHORLINK: I love the idea of spin-offs stories from characters we’ve gotten to know throughout our lives. Is it challenging to come up with convincing back stories for these characters?

DE LA CRUZ: I don’t know if it’s challenging, that’s an author’s job—spinning stories, weaving tales, and it comes very easily. If it didn’t, I probably wouldn’t be a writer. I weave backstories on people I see in restaurants, when I overhear conversations, as a tribe, stories are our oxygen. I probably could have come up with a hundred different ideas on how the villains came to the island. The problem was sticking to one version.

“There’s always a little bit of me in every character I write.”

AUTHORLINK: Did you put anything from yourself or other people you know into the characters?

DE LA CRUZ: There’s always a little bit of me in every character I write. Definitely. And then how the villain kids become a gang, how they tease and support each other—that does come from the experience of having friends. There’s a lot of goofiness between them that was inspired by how my friends interact with each other.

AUTHORLINK: Have you always been a writer? Did you get into writing when you went to Colombia?

DE LA CRUZ: I’ve wanted to be a writer since I was 8 years old. There’s nothing else I ever wanted to be. At Columbia I was an English major and took creative writing classes. I did study creative writing, and my professors were wonderful. After I graduated I thought I’d become a filmmaker though, so I took filmmaking classes. I realized after taking these classes that I was not a filmmaker –that I was much better off concentrating on the writing.

“I am doing a huge launch event in Los Angeles with Disney star Dove Cameron (Mal) at Barnes & Noble . . .”

AUTHORLINK: Are you doing a book tour for The Isle of the Lost?

DE LA CRUZ: I am doing a huge launch event in Los Angeles with Disney star Dove Cameron (Mal) at Barnes & Noble and will be at BookCon in New York with Sofia Carson to promote The Isle of the Lost. I will also be at the Romantic Times Convention and ComicCon and YALLFEST. But I’m taking a break from touring right at the moment. I’ve toured for my books three times a year for the past decade. I’m exhausted. I’m trying something new—staying home and working and going to a few conventions and festivals.

AUTHORLINK: What do you have coming up next? Will you take a break before working on another novel?

Ha! What break? I love working, I love writing. My new series Summer on East End, which is a YA spinoff of Witches of East End, debuts in November with TRIPLE MOON. And the post-apocalyptic fantasy series HEART OF DREAD that I write with my husband concludes next summer. Right now I’m working on the next Descendants novel, the next Summer on East End novel, finishing up the last Heart of Dread book, and working on a few more projects I can’t announce just yet. 

About the Author:

Melissa de la Cruz is the author of the novel Cat’s Meow and the co-author of How to Become Famous in Two Weeks or Less. Her work has been translated into several languages. She writes regularly for Marie Claire, Gotham, Hamptons, and Lifetime magazines and has contributed to the New York Times, Glamour, Allure, and McSweeney’s. She recently moved from New York City and now lives in Los Angeles with her husband. She has never dared use her cell phone on the Hampton Jitney. This is not her dog.

About Doreen Akiyo Yomoah:

Doreen Akiyo Yomoah is a nomadic freelance writer, currently living in Dakar, Senegal.