Author L.J. Smith on Writing and Losing The Vampire Diaries Series
L.J. Smith’s first four novels in The Vampire Diaries series came out in the ‘90s and were a huge hit. After going on hiatus for nearly a decade she returned back to the series. With the popularity of Twight, Smith got a call that The Vampire Diaries books were back on the bestseller list. So, she wrote three more books for the series and had planned to write another trilogy when her publishers were like “Screw you!” and fired her and hired on a ghostwriter to take her place. The publishers hired this ghostwriter to finish the series with shorter books that fit with The Vampire Diaries TV show better. The Secret Circle, another series by Smith, was also passed to a new writer for the same reason. Fans were not pleased.
Smith recently did an interview where she chats about Twilight, The Vampire Diaries, and warns aspiring writers to steer clear of the words “work for hire,” which she says helped “mutilate her child limb by limb and destroy it.” Check out the interview below:
Let's start with the origin of The Vampire Diaries.
"I'm no longer writing them, but when I originally signed the contract, I had written two hardback books, which came out to good reviews and no sales because they had the ugliest covers of any book I've seen in my life. I was teaching public school, a kindergarten class with a lot of special ed kids, and I had these two books behind me when I got a phone call from a book packager. I didn't know what a book packager was, but they asked if I would like to write a vampire trilogy, and that became The Vampire Diaries. I guess one of their editors had read one of the books I had written, which were slightly scary, and thought I could do a trilogy for them with romance, supernatural elements and maybe even a little humor in it."
But you're not writing them anymore, why not?
"When they sent the contract, it said it was a work for hire. What it meant was I was giving up basically all the rights I'd have as a normal writer, including the right to continue writing my books. And Alloy Entertainment decided they wanted shorter books that were promoting the television series, and they simply informed me, even though I had already written a book called Phantom for them and given them all the information for that book and the next book, Moonsong, that my services were no longer required."
Today the shelves are filled with supernatural romance. Was it like that back when The Vampire Diaries started?
"When I wrote my books, back in the '90s, supernatural was in, but not supernatural romance. It was primarily frightening stories, and I was always a bit frustrated because even though my books were always bestsellers, they were always number two. Ahead of them were books by Christopher Pike, who wrote straight up supernatural stories for boys and girls, so he had double the audience I had, which was mostly girls."
Second or not, you obviously rubbed off on today's YA authors.
"There are a lot of parallels pointed out by fans between the Twilight books and The Vampire Diaries. I haven't read those books, but I've been told the love triangle aspect is similar and the idea of what I call the soulmate principle. It's imprinting in those books."
That's right, Jacob the werewolf imprints on Bella's baby in the last book.
"That can happen with the soulmate principle, too! You can meet your soulmate at any age."
Read the full interview HERE.
What do you guys think of what Smith had to say? How do you feel about a new author taking her place?