Ever since Vampire Academy claimed one of the top five slots in our search for Best Book Series of All Time, it became my personal mission to catch up on the six-novel franchise ASAP — especially with the movie tapped for early 2014. So you can only imagine how thrilled I was when I had the amazing opportunity to interview its creator, the author of the VA series herself, Richelle Mead.
After confessing that I was a new fangirl myself, I got down to the questions that you, members of #VAfamily, were waiting to know the answers to, including her thoughts on Zoey Deutch and Danila Kozlovsky‘s chemistry — on- and off-screen — Bloodlines, and so much more…
VA is getting a lot of comparisons to Twilight (although they’re way different). Besides being about vampires, can you talk about some of the similarities/differences for those not in the know?
Richelle Mead: Vampire Academy is based on a Romanian myth that existed about two races of vampires in the world. The Moroi, who are living, generally benign vampires who don’t have to kill for their blood; and the Strigoi, who are kind of the creatures of nightmares that we stereotypically think are lonely, horror vampires; they’re undead, evil and [bloodthirsty]. So I took that concept of those two races and built a whole society and culture around them. The Moroi have a very complex royal system, and they also co-exist with Dhampirs, who are half-vampires and serve as their bodyguards against the Strigoi. So that’s kind of the world set-up, and then the plot, the focus of the characters, follows Rose Hathaway, who’s one of these half-vampire bodyguards in training; she’s a teenage girl, 17 at the beginning of the series, and she’s in training to protect her best friend, who is one of the Moroi… In the first book, we find out that some of the grave threats they’re facing are actually from within their own society itself, and not necessarily the dark evil other that they’ve been taught to fear.
Speaking of Dhampirs, Strigoi and Moroi (and even Alchemists from the books after Blood Sisters), how would you capture each in a few words?
Richelle: Moroi are living, good vampires; they use elemental magic in their lives. The Strigoi are undead, evil, bloodthirsty — that pretty much sums them up. Dhampirs are strong, fast; they have the best attributes of both humans and vampires, so that’s what makes them such excellent bodyguards. Alchemists are the Men in Black of the paranormal world; they’re a secret society of humans whose gamut is to keep the existence of vampires secret from other humans for their own good.
We actually interviewed Dan Waters recently too, and he described Danila (as Dimitri) as “a true bad-ass.” What did you think when you first saw Danila?
Richelle: I was definitely thrilled with the decision. I had never heard of him when they first mentioned him as their casting choice because he’s not very well known here [in the U.S.], but he’s a huge actor over in Russia. He’s very, very good at what he does, and I was just really thrilled when I saw the range of work he did. And he’s got the look. I mean, the look is so subjective for each reader, and everyone’s got their own version, but he fits, for me, what I described in the book, and Danila’s so dedicated to the role. To me, that’s even more important than just nailing the physical appearance. He’s really into this character, he trained so hard. I’m not sure how far he’s read in the series, I know he’s read at least a few books, maybe he’s finished it by now, but you know, he’s up to speed on what happens to the character, and he’s really invested. It’s been really great, when you meet him, that just really comes off how enthusiastic and excited he is to be a part of it.
And how would you describe the chemistry between him and Zoey?
Richelle: It’s great, both on- and off-screen. Off-screen they’re like siblings; they’re so close, they have such a great rapport with each other. They kind of joke and banter with each other. They’re very close and that’s just great to see. You can tell that they love what they’re doing. I saw them filming some scenes together just over and over and over, taking these hits and they were just into it, and they were having a good time with each other, and that was great.
On-screen, when they’re actually in character, they’ve got the romantic chemistry that everyone’s looking for. I’ve only seen snippets of the film, I haven’t seen the whole thing, not even close, but the scenes I did see, they definitely have that Rose-and-Dimitri action going on, so people are gonna be pretty thrilled with that.
I saw that Zoey’s favorite scene from the film is one where Dimitri and Rose walk back from training. What are excited to see translated to the big screen?
Richelle: I’m just really looking forward to the ending sequence because that’s when the action starts rolling out. There’s action throughout the film, of course, and throughout the book, and the film follows the book very closely. So much of that is build-up and there’s clues and all this stuff, and you know something’s going on, but you’re not sure what it is. And then there’s this one point there near the end where just everything explodes. It’s just like, bam, bam, bam to the end. So I’m just really looking forward to seeing that unfold on the screen. That was the most fun for me to write in the book, that action ending sequence, so it’s going to be pretty cool to see it come to life.
Did you have any special requests that you really wanted to be included in the film?
Richelle: No, I did not. Actually, after I read the script, I really didn’t have anything to really — I didn’t really have any harsh critiques after reading the script. There are little changes in there, of course, because no matter what some people will insist, the book and the movie cannot be identical. There have to be little things to make it transition to the screen. But there was nothing that tampered with any of the characters, any of the major plot points, anything like that. It’s all come through pretty truly into the script.
Fans are already wondering about the soundtrack! Are there any musicians or songs you’d love to see/hear?
Richelle: You know what, I really don’t. I know it’s disappointing. People are always asking me these questions, and I never have anything good for ‘em. Nope, I don’t have any picks; I’m content with what the movie makers go with and what they feel good about. I know they’re scouting certain things right now. There are actual music tracks, and then also a composer working on the score right now, so it’s all in progress and I’m kind of excited to see what they come up with.
Now that you’ve seen actors take on some of your biggest characters, who can you picture as Adrian [Ivashkov]?
Richelle: I don’t have anyone pegged, and I didn’t for this movie either. I think it’s much easier for me that way. Easier than fans who have for, you know, five years certain actors pegged, and then when that person doesn’t get picked, everything is shattered for them. So I’m just very open-minded. There’s a lot of great actors out there. I’ve read through some of the fan favorites, and the movie makers may actually end up doing what they did for VA, which is picking someone who’s not really known for anything else. I think that’s a great thing because I don’t necessarily want the star of my movie to be someone where people say, “Oh, yeah that’s who plays so-and-so” and it’s some character that everyone knows from another movie. I would rather when people talk about this actor they say, “Oh, that’s Rose from Vampire Academy” or “Oh, that’s Adrian.” So, who knows? The next Adrian may be a small actor who’s just starting out and that could be his break.
Shifting to the last book, did you know the whole time how Last Sacrifice would end?
Richelle: I know how the big plot points are going to end. When I start the first book in a series, I know how that last book is going to wrap up, and everything is building toward that. That way I can leave my clues, and lay out my foundations accordingly. There are little things in the middle that will always change; some may go away, some may get added, but there’s never really, at least so far in my writing career, there’s never been any big surprises at the end. Like, “I just put my totally — you know — Last Sacrifice changed it all.” It was pretty much what I had been thinking when I wrote the first book.
As for Bloodlines(, the VA spin-off series), will we get to see more of Rose and Dimitri as it continues?
Richelle: We’ll see them in The Fiery Heart, which is the next book coming out in November, the 19th. We’ll also see Lissa and Christian, so people should be happy to see some old favorites coming back. They’re still the secondary characters in the series, so if there’s people looking forward to them becoming the stars, it’s not they’re time yet, but we will get to see them interacting with the leads here soon.
Is there anything you can tease more about Angeline’s love life?
Richelle: Angeline’s love life? :laughs: It’s complicated, let’s put it that way. I think that’s probably the best way to describe it.
Do you plan on making another spin-off series after Bloodlines?
Richelle: I’m kind of waiting on a few things to decide on that. I would definitely like to keep doing something in the Vampire Academy world, for sure. It’s hard to leave it. Whether that’s going to be a completely new spin-off or whether that’ll be a return to the characters in the first series, I’m not sure yet. When I visited the set, I just saw how amazing everything was, and how well they brought that book to life, I was pretty sure I could write about them again, no problem, I was so excited to see those characters again. But then, on the other hand, there are just some days that I think, “Oh, I don’t know.” We’ll see if I wanna go back to them again; if I want to start something new. So I don’t know, it may depend on how I survive the movie process. We’ll see. I have two more books to go in Bloodlines before I make any decisions, then we’ll find out.
You’re actually a part of our search for Favorite YA Author. Who are some of the young authors that you admire?
Richelle: I’m a big fan of Rachel Caine, she also writes a vampire series. I started off with her adult stuff, then moved in to her YA. She does both really beautifully. I love Margaret Stohl and Kami Garcia, they’re great. Both as a team and their individual stuff is really good too, so people should check that out if they haven’t. Those are the ones that come to mind off the top of my head. I really love people that put a big emphasis on character, and these guys do. I mean, they have great plots as well, but for me as a writer and a reader, I’m there for the characters. I want to live and die for them and get invested in them, so they do a really great job of that.
Lastly, a lot of fans are interested in knowing whether you’ll be a part of the film promo interviews and red carpet. Do you know yet?
Richelle: It is very unlikely that I will. That is not a diss on me as the author. The movie people love to have me out. But I will be having a baby the month before the movie comes out, so that’s prime time when all the promo would start, so I don’t see myself doing too much of that. I might be on the phone doing more interviews, that’s great, I could do those all day. But I don’t think people will see me out and about too much.
Vampire Academy hits theaters on February 14, 2014! Are you counting down the days? Check out the stills and on-set pictures in the gallery below, then tell us all your VA-related thoughts in the comments below!