Aurora: [Questions geared towards young readers] “…what type of advice would you give for young adults, teenagers, who want to be a writer or become a writer?”
Cruz: “I think for young adults, in high school or in college, to write as much as you can. Don’t worry about publishing, write every day in your journal, and work for the campus newspaper or the year book. I was the editor of the year book and the newspaper. It’s really great training, working with deadlines, especially with the newspaper or the year book, you need to fill space, things get cut.”
Aurora: “As a writer you get these deadlines, it’s all the time, get these to me by this day!”
Cruz: “Oh yeah, completely!”
Katie: “How hard is it to stick to these deadlines?”
Cruz: “Well, it’s not hard when you are starting out, you’re young and hungry. When you are younger, [or as a] starting writer, you want to make sure you are by the book. The editor [doesn’t give you] a lot of chances. They don’t know who you are, you haven’t proven yourself, and you haven’t sold one book for them, so you want to check off all the boxes. Later in your career, [laughs] once you are a little bit more established you get a little more leeway. You still have deadlines because the book has to be published, if you are late on it then everyone’s late… even though you have leeway you keep that in mind, you try to make everyone’s lives easy.
Aurora: “That’s great advice though, deadlines are so important.”
Cruz: “Turn in those term papers!” [Laughs]
Aurora: “Do you have any favorite young adult authors that you look up to right now?”
Cruz: “I don’t know if I look up to anybody… [But] I think I enjoy a lot of the new fantasy. Definitely Leigh Bardugo, six of crows I loved her books. I loved The Grecian trilogy, my best friend Margie Stool who wrote The Beautiful Creatures. I loved Red Widow, Black Widow forever red. Pseudonymous Bosch, his Secret Series is amazing, [and] I think he is just the best writer working right now, and I just love him and his work… Alyson Noel, I love that we came from kind of chicklet together, we kind of grown up in the industry together. Mostly I read a lot of fantasy, Laini Taylor (muffled book title?)… Oh and Rainbow Rowell! I am a huge fan of Rainbow Rowell!”
Aurora: “Can we talk about this book [Isle of the Lost: A Descendants Novel] How exciting was this to get to write [for] this project?”
Cruz: “It was so much fun! It was a big honor, I am a big Disney kid. So when they asked me to write the descents novel series, as an original series in the descendant’s world, I was just kind of flabbergasted, very flattered.”
Aurora: “How did it feel to really explore the characters, deeply, because cause you explored them more, in a deeper manner with the books?”
Cruz: “You know it was very fun, I call them my adopted children. [Laughs] Because I didn’t come up with them, but I and to make them real… I really tried to put as much of myself, and you have to with any book, to make characters real you have to give part of your soul to them. Once I started writing the book it was kind of like every book I’ve ever written, it didn’t matter that this came from a Disney program, it was my story and my characters.
Aurora: “Katie you had a few questions also, as well?”
Katie: “I am a huge fan of the Blue Bloods series, it’s a little old and has some love to it. I bought them all, Love it! My dogs have chewed them and I’ve had to buy them all since I cannot have chewed copes.”
Cruz: “Yay, she has the copy right there, aww! I am very fond of that series too.”
Katie: “Who was your favorite character to write about?”
Cruz: “I think Mimi, she was so fun and only because Skyler was so much like I was in High school. They were kind of painful years, to write [about], whereas Mimi was me in College. It was so much more fun, you have more confidence and you know who you are a little more. It was really interesting to write the two characters; one I gave my high school experience to and the other I gave my college personality to.”
Katie: “One of my other questions is about Bliss. How do you go from being a vampire who constantly gets killed, and nobody else remembers you, when they all have these memories and becoming a werewolf all of a sudden when the mythologies rarely cross?”
Cruz: “I wanted to give Bliss more of a redemption story … because she does do the most evil thing. She is the daughter of Lucifer, but then she’s also the daughter of Gabriel. So it’s like, she has the good and evil in her, so I think her werewolf side is her other side of her. I wanted to show that after her vampire side was so dark.”
Katie: “I love that Oliver comes becomes a as a Vampire, that is so cool, to ask to come back as a vampire and he would!”
Cruz: “I’m so glad, that was kind of fun. Oliver was so human throughout Blue Bloods series, and that he doesn’t have the power but in the end he comes back and saves them all, and he becomes the big vampire.”
Aurora: “When it comes to Isle, do you have like a favorite character, that’s so hard to ask, or do you have one that you’re excited to write?”
Cruz: “They asked me this at YALL FEST (book festival Nov. 13th & 14th 2015), I was doing a panel with Meg cabot and she asked me that, when I answered it she was like ‘You answered that question! [Gasp]’ … All my characters I love them all. I think I have a definite fondness for Carlos because he is the most like me as a kid he was really nerdy and shy, and I relate to that, and he’s a scaredy cat. Mal, I love Mal she is such a kick ass, bad ass girl, and so cool. So Mal is who I want to be, but Carlos is who I really am.”
Aurora: “Oh I love that, okay that’s cool! It’s like you have both of those aspects. This is who I was or am and that’s who I want to be.”
Cruz: “Mal is great, she is really fun. I love Evie, Evie I base a lot of my female friendships. I think it’s really hard to have that kind of pressure to be the most beautiful, and Jay is just fun, I mean he is a thief.”
Katie: “One more question; because this just became a movie (Isle). My original question was more about the Witches of Eastend.
What does it feel like when you see something that you’ve written being turned into a show or a movie, how involved are you or what’s that process like?”
Cruz: “Yeah, you know with Witches of Eastend, I did not sell the Blue Bloods series. So I turned down all the options. Which is funny because, I think I was just really close to the book, I was still writing it and I didn’t quite feel like letting go. Because I know that Hollywood changes a lot of things, things for the medium that don’t work in the books, and I didn’t want to sell it. Although now that I think about it it’s so hard to get anything made, and if you say ‘no’ from the beginning then nothing happens. Cause the ‘no’s’ could happen, you could option it and they could write the script, they could still say no. They could make the pilot and still say no. I feel like I should have said yes to give it a chance, but with Witches of Eastend I liked the producer. I trusted him, and we really kind of agreed on what the TV show would be like, and I felt comfortable selling it, and I also thought ‘what could happen’ so decided I’ll say yes for once. It was kind of fun. I was involved in a few meetings and they really make the TV show and I gave some notes, I told them I was like their cheer leader. I really enjoyed the Pilot, it was the most like my book. I also enjoyed the show, seeing where the actors and writers took it. A really fun experience.”
Katie: “So do you think Blue Bloods could ever be a movie? [Everyone laughs] I’d pay $30 a ticket, I need this!”
Cruz: “You know it’s interesting, vampires kind of had their moment and they went away, and everybody said oh no vampires. Now I think we are coming back to the paranormal stuff that was published a couple more years ago. That Hollywood’s coming back to it, my agents like ‘I think we could sell this now’”.
Katie: “Who do you think could play Schuler?”
Cruz: “Ooo it’s so hard, I wrote the book over ten years ago now. Some of those actresses are now…who was the one they really liked? Someone from Gilmore Girls, but she’s older now. I don’t know many of the young actresses are nowadays.”
Wrapped up the interviews with appreciation, having copies of books signed and photos. Date November 20th 2015 at 3 pm, Miami Book fair International 2015. MDC Wolfson Campus, building 3.