Author Interview: Ellen Schreiber on Vampire Kisses

Learn about Ellen Schreiber.

What were you like as a YA reader?

I was what you would call a “reluctant” reader. I didn’t enjoy reading because, unfortunately, I didn’t find many books that I could relate to. There wasn’t the fun YA market there is today.

Who were your favorite authors? What were your favorite titles?

I did like A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle (Crosswicks, 1962).

What first inspired you to write for teens?

I read a YA book that was flip, fast and fun, and I thought, “I could do this.” I’d started a novel that never went beyond 30 pages. I changed the characters to teens and finished it in six and a half weeks.

Could you tell us about your path to publication–any sprints or stumbles along the way?

I was very lucky. When I finished my first book, Johnny Lightning, my brother sent it to his Belgium publisher, Facet. They published it, and I was ecstatic!

It took a few years before I got published here in the U.S. An editor had just moved to HarperCollins and was taking unsolicited, unagented manuscripts. I sent my book Teenage Mermaid (2003) to her, and she published that along with Vampire Kisses (2003) and Comedy Girl (2004).

Congratulations on the rock-star success of the Vampire Kisses series (HarperCollins, 2003-)! Could you tell us a little about the books?

You are too kind! Wow. I wrote Vampire Kisses in 1998. I never dreamed it would become a series. After it was published, my editor asked for two more books. I’m currently writing VK 8.

What was your initial inspiration for the series?

Three things. An image, a character, and an obsession.

I wanted to write a book about a girl who was feisty, headstrong, fearless, and confident. I saw two goth girls swinging on swings in my neighborhood and loved the image. I thought maybe I’d write a poem and call it “Dark Angels.”

Instead, I decided to marry the character with the image and the girl would be a goth. Then I needed something else. I wanted her to be obsessed with something, and vampires popped into my head.

But I wanted to write about a vampire without the blood and gore. I wanted to focus on the romance of vampires. What made a vampire need a girl for all of eternity.

What was the timeline between spark and first publication, and what were the major events along the way?

I wrote it in 1998, and it was published in Belgium in 2000. I got the HarperCollins contract in 2001. Their 2002 fall list was filled, so it was published in 2003.

What were the challenges (literary, research, psychological, and logistical) in bringing it to life?

Not too many. I just sat down and wrote it. I asked my dad about some vampire lore–as he’s really into the Universal Monster movies. Other than that, it just wrote itself.

What inspired you to branch into graphic novels?

I was lucky. Tokyopop (a leading manga publisher) and HarperCollins were joining for a manga imprint. A TP editor was looking through the HC catalogue and spotted Vampire Kisses and thought it would be a good manga. I still thank him to this day for that moment!

What is the writing process like for the graphics?

I write the whole story in an outline form and as much dialogue and anything else I can. Then a scriptwriter transforms it into a script. We tweak it as we go, and once the art is finished, we still have to make sure the language matches.

What advice do you have for fellow series writers?

I write the stories as I go–since I didn’t think about a series when I wrote the first book. I imagine if you know you are writing a series ahead of time, you can write an outline of the whole series. But for me, I write more organically and things happen as I’m writing. So I guess it just depends on your style.

Why spooky stories? Are you a spooky person?

I love scary movies. My mom didn’t let me watch them when I was growing up. So I’m making up for that in my adult years.

What other stories/books do you want to tell us about?

Vampire Kisses 7 – Love Bites was out May 18th. It is about what happens when Alexander’s best friend, Sebastian, comes to Dullsville.

Also, Once In A Full Moon. It is a new series that will debut in January 2011 about a hot and heroic romantic werewolf.

So far, as a reader, what is your favorite tween/YA novel of 2010 and why?

I don’t read when I am writing–which is most of the time. I like my thoughts to remain my own, and I don’t want anything influencing them. Sometimes I do read manga as it is a different genre.

What books by other authors would you recommend to your own fans and why?

Starcrossed by Mark Schreiber (Flux, 2007) It is hip, edgy, and a great story, and I’m not just saying that because he’s my bro.

What do you do outside the world of books?

I love to shop for funky stuff, Hello Kitty, and I gossip about celebrities with my best friend. I’m always searching online for new and fun stuff to add to my vampire and quirky collection. I also like to make amigurumis (Japanese crocheted cuties) and watch cool movies with my husband.