Vampire buzz takes bite in Kirkland
By CARRIE RODRIGUEZ
Kirkland Reporter Editor
December 21, 2009 · Updated 3:17 PM
Amidst a vampire buzz in popular culture, local author Richelle Mead has taken the furor by storm.
The New York Times and USA Today bestselling urban fantasy author for both adults and teens recently launched her fourth book, "Blood Promise," in her young adult series “Vampire Academy.” And fans are talking.
“I see excitement from all of my fans,” said the 33-year-old Juanita author, adding how her younger fans show up at book readings wearing t-shirts in support of their favorite romantic triangle in the books. “It's amazing to see how into it they get.”
A former junior high school teacher, Mead is no stranger to her young audience.
"I don't think teaching gave me insight into a teen voice, so much as it taught me that teens are more adult than they get credit for," said Mead, a Michigan native. "That's what I take into my books - you don't talk down because they are younger."
While an 8th grade social studies and English teacher at a Lynwood school, Mead took up writing on the side.
As soon as she wrote and sold her first book, "Succubus Blues," of the paranormal romance adult series "Georgina Kincaid," Mead realized she wanted to be a full-time novelist. So she left her teaching job to pursue writing.
"Right now I have a more aggressive schedule than most authors have," said Mead. "Most (authors) have a year to write their first draft, but because I'm contracted for so many (books) right now, I usually have to write a draft in three months."
An author of two adults series - "Georgina Kincaid" and "Dark Swan" - and one young adult series, "Vampire Academy," Mead is currently working on a draft for the next book in each of her series.
"It's the young adult stuff that's taking off ... with the teen vampire fascination right now," said Mead, noting her newest book, "Blood Promise," has already been translated into more than a dozen languages. "My young adult series is off the charts, so that's been great."
Meads says there is no easy answer for where she gets her inspiration. Growing up, she was a fantasy and sci-fi fan.
Also, before she received a Master in Teaching degree from the University of Washington, she received an MA in Comparative Religion from Western Michigan University, where she took undergraduate classes on eastern European mythology.
She said her education was her starting point of all her series.
In "Blood Promise," which is based on Romanian myth, the main character is half vampire, "so there isn't as much as an emphasis on blood that shows up in other series," Mead noted. Her main character is training to be a bodyguard in a world where there are two types of vampires: good and evil.
"There's action and fight scenes," Mead said of the novel. "She's (the main character) got her fair amount of adolescent issues. She has romantic conflicts as well because she's involved with one of her teachers."
But the biggest aspect that sets her novel apart from other vampire books is her main character is a strong, independent and self-sufficient female.
"That doesn't always show up in books. So she's not rescued - she's the one doing the rescuing," Mead said, adding though there are fantastic heroines in other books, her main character is "out in the action - that's what a lot of people like."
Plus, her story is spun out of Romanian myth, which gives it a different bent than traditional vampire lore.
"We've developed this vampire idea where we can go back and look at Bram Stoker and other images and things that are popular right now follow that," she said of the novel "Dracula" that was made into a horror-romance film in 1992.
Also, she said all of her novels have "this odd spiral where there is dark drama going on," but at the same time she has a "wacky sense of humor."
Mead, who just finished her international book tour and is also a recent newlywed, has returned home to Kirkland to work on her next book drafts.
The next book in her "Vampire Academy" series, "Spirit Bound" will be released May, 18, 2010.
"I'm contracted for seven more young adult books and three more adult books," she added. "So that maps out my career for the next several years. It's a job, a lot of people don't realize that once you're in, you've got to keep going with the next project."
For information, visit www.richellemead.comContact Kirkland Reporter Editor Carrie Rodriguez at email@example.com or 1-425-822-9166 (ext 5050).