On Sunday, January 20, I was able to attend Melissa de la Cruz's book signing in Toronto! This was the only Canadian stop she was making to promote the release of Gates of Paradise, the seventh and final novel in the Blue Bloods series. I've been reading the Blue Bloods novels pretty much since the very beginning, so I was incredibly excited to finally meet Melissa de la Cruz after so many years of reading her books.
I got to Indigo Yorkdale several hours early with my Mom and sister, and even then, there was a line forming with Blue Bloods fans. Later on, I was able to get a seat beside blogger friends Wendy, Michele (Just A Lil' Lost) and Christa (More Than Just Magic). Before the event began, there were yummy cupcakes and drinks provided, as well as a photo station where you could take a picture wearing a Venetian mask and/or fancy furs like you were a Blue Blood. It was such an added treat which I'm not used to seeing at book signings, and it made the event all the more special, I think!
At 1 pm, Melissa de la Cruz made her way to the stage to enthusiastic applause. She quickly launched into talking about the Blue Blood series, and how she first got the inspiration to write it. In 2004, she got a call from her agent asking if she'd like to write a dark fantasy novel after her The Au Pairs editor moved to another publisher, Hyperion. She has always loved John Milton's Paradise Lost, and wanted her vampires to have to an origin story; when she first wrote Blue Bloods, she had no idea how mainstream vampires would soon become!
The easiest book to write in the series was Masquerade. She was pregnant at the time, but everything in the book easily fell into place, to her relief, I'm sure. She added that she likes to outline her books, and her husband collaborates with her a lot, exchanging ideas about the characters and the plot. They've known for years what would happen in the series!
If you've read the Blue Bloods series, then you'll know that the books take place in many different countries around the world. Melissa said she would hire local research assistants to get the details right about the countries. However, in Revelations, which is partly set in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, some details were wrong and they didn't catch them right away like the currency and the airport name because it had recently changed at the time, which just goes to show you can't be perfect all the time. She also said that after the book was released, some Brazilian readers complained about how she wrote about poverty and crime in the city; she grew up in Manila, Philippines, so she's able to relate and understand that it's a part of the city, and she didn't want to ignore it in her book.
On a lighter note, Melissa shared an interesting story about the cover for Blue Bloods! When they were still designing the cover, she felt it was too generic, so she asked if they could change it. In the end, the final cover was shown to her, and she thought it was a much more perfect fit. Guess who the cover model turned out to be? Her editor! They took a photo of her neck because it seemed long and elegant.
Melissa said she would always remember when The Van Alen Legacy was released because it sold thousands and thousands of copies in its first week, and she also got a Disney VIP Member Pass (Hyperion, her publisher, is part of Disney) too. But while this year marked one of the highest moments in her life, it was also one of the lowest because her father passed away that year, so she gained perspective. When it was time for her to write Keys to the Repository, a Blue Bloods companion book, it was stressful and she had to relearn a lot of details about the series. Writing Misguided Angel was a challenge for Melissa, so her husband actually wrote the first few chapters of the novel, which she jokingly remarked was why the book opens with a chase scene. She was also excited to write more about the Chinese Venators, and said they were inspired by Chinese twins she had known in college.
And on a really exciting note, Melissa announced that there was going to be an adult Blue Bloods spin-off series!! Her publisher would have made an official announcement earlier, but the description would have given something away about the end of Gates of Paradise, so they're waiting to spill any more details. Awesome news, right?
And Melissa has another book coming out later this year called Frozen, and she's been writing it with her husband. It's going to be the first novel in a post-apocalyptic series she describes as The Lord of the Rings in reverse. Instead of magic leaving the land, it's coming back.
It was then time for the book signing! Clutching my armload of books, I waited for my turn to get my books signed. I'm pretty sure I gushed about how excited I was to hear about a Blue Bloods spin-off series and how awesome Frozen sounds. Melissa de la Cruz is so sweet, friendly, and nice!
Thanks so much to Melissa de la Cruz for visiting Toronto and meeting some of your Canadian fans! Also, tons of thanks to Hachette Book Group Canada, Indigo Yorkdale, and Chapters/Indigo for hosting the event!
** Thanks to Hachette Book Group Canada, before the event began, I had a really cool opportunity to meet Melissa in person and ask some questions about the Blue Blood series. My author interview with Melissa de la Cruz will be posted on the blog tomorrow, so please be on the lookout for it! **