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Claudia Gray on Evernight, vampires, and being weird

Posted by inkpop on February 19, 2010

I was that weird kid who sits in the back of study hall, reading books about the Titanic and Jack the Ripper and anything else bizarre, and who never seems to know what to do with her hair. You know the one.”

That’s how Claudia Gray describes herself as a teenager. But you know what they say: It’s probably better to be the offbeat teen—you probably don’t want to peak in high school, because you don’t have as much to strive toward.

And maybe Gray’s high-school experience had something to do with the creation of her best-selling series, Evernight, which centers around Bianca, the daughter of two vampires who’s been told that her destiny is to become one. The story begins when Bianca gets uprooted from a sheltered, small-town life to attend a creepy, Gothic boarding school called Evernight Academy. There, she connects and falls in love with the super-hot, vampire-hunting Lucas, bonding over Evernight’s crowd of all-too-perfect students (read: who are these people and what are they hiding?).

Shortly before the March 2010 U.S. release of Hourglass, the third in the Evernight series, Gray talks with inkpop about what’s next for vampires and the next series on her plate.

What would you ask Claudia Gray? On Saturday, February 20, 2010, at 5 p.m. Eastern Standard Time, log onto inkpop.com for a live “The Author Is In” Forums Event.

inkpop: In your opinion, what’s the most exciting thing about Hourglass?

Claudia Gray: Bianca and Lucas are away from Evernight Academy. I think Evernight is a fascinating place, but now that they’re out in the world and on their own, literally anything can happen. They are freer and more vulnerable than they’ve ever been. Of course, you can never totally leave the past behind—so people like Mrs. Bethany, Balthazar, Charity, and Vic still cross their paths, in some unexpected ways.

What do your fans most want to know?

Whether Evernight is going to become a film. Actually, people often ask if I plan to make it a film, which just isn’t the way it works. Though it would be great to see the characters come to life onscreen, before that can happen, a studio or producer has to make an offer, and thus far nobody has. I don’t really expect it to happen, but if I’m wrong and that call comes, trust me, I will shout it from every corner.

What’s the one question you wish someone would ask you, but hasn’t?

In Stargazer, because I figured out that Courtney had grown up in Amherst, I made sure that when I showed the picture of her as a cheerleader, that she was wearing one of the local high school’s colors. So I’m still waiting for some reader in Amherst to catch that!

A few people—but only a few—have asked some of the most important questions, which are about Mrs. Bethany: where she comes from, what her motives are. In Afterlife, all is revealed.

Before you became an author, you worked as a DJ, lawyer, journalist, and, in your own words, “an extremely bad waitress.” Where’d you dee-jay, and who’d you write for?

I DJed in my hometown in Mississippi, at a country-music radio station—the fact that I knew nothing about country music didn’t stop me. When I was a journalist, I worked for a lifestyle magazine in Missouri and for Premiere and American Lawyer magazines in New York. (Premiere has since died as a print publication but exists on the Web.)

I became a book writer after I left journalism and started working for a big law firm, because I still had creative energy left over at the end of the day. My wonderful agent, Diana Fox, played a very big part in shepherding me through that process.

How long do you think the vampire craze is going to last? Do you think there’s going to be a “next big topic” in teen lit?

With vampires, who knows? In some ways, we’re seeing just the peak of a vampire wave that began with Anne Rice, or maybe even with Dark Shadows in the 1970s. It always evolves, and I think vampires will not remain quite as glamorous as they now are—they’re due to get seriously scary again—but that may be a while. And I’m not even going to try to call a “next big topic,” because the only people who will decide that are the readers. As much as writers and publishers wish we could make that happen, we can’t. We can just create books we love and hope readers agree.

You’re gearing up for a new series called Spellcaster about a young witch. What’s the main character, Ivy, like, and why do you think teens will connect with her?

Ivy is a young witch, one who, like most witches, has been trained by her mother since early childhood, in secret. Now that she’s 16, she’s coming into the fullness of her powers and is ready to take the final steps to mastering witchcraft—but her mother suddenly left her family, with very little explanation, a few months ago. This means that Ivy’s father is brokenhearted, her little brother is suddenly very clingy and lonely, and Ivy has no one to guide her as she learns the last, and most important, tools of the craft. In some ways, she’s better able to handle this than most people, because she’s extremely dedicated, self-disciplined, and intelligent.

However, Ivy also is running the risk of cutting herself off from being young and having fun, and she really hasn’t let herself come to terms with the pain her mother’s abandonment has caused. Plus, as her family arrives in this new town, she encounters darker and more powerful forces than she’s ever had to deal with before, and Ivy has to handle it all alone. I think anybody who has loved something so much they would do anything to get it—or who has had to deal with sudden loss—will understand some of what Ivy’s going through.  She’s one of my favorite characters.

What’s your secret of success?

Find a way to do what you love, and to make your life about the people you love. If you do that, you’re successful, regardless of what the rest of the world (or your bank statement) says.

What’s the best advice you’ve ever gotten about writing and/or developing creativity?

When I was taking pottery, on the first day, my teacher said, “You will make 1,000 bad pots before you start making good ones. You’d better get started.” She redefined what I would’ve thought of as failure as just a natural part of the learning process. Instead of feeling incompetent or behind, I dove right in and made those bad pots with no anxiety, and really a lot of pleasure, because it brought me closer to my goal. It’s just as true for writing. I think a lot of people give up while they’re writing their 1,000 bad pages.  You just have to look at it as a natural part of getting where you want to go.

The inkpop blog is written by inkpopAmy

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One Response to “Claudia Gray on Evernight, vampires, and being weird”

  1. Goth style is even a nice way to live the darkness around us. Don’t turn always a light on you couldn’t miss the beauty of the stars…

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