An Exclusive Interview with Author Melissa de la Cruz
Author Melissa de la Cruz is no stranger to success, with smash hits like her Blue Bloods series and Witches of East End, now a hit series on Lifetime. And her newest novel, The Ring and The Crown, will surely add another accomplishment to the list.
To celebrate the release of her latest novel on April 1, de la Cruz was kind enough to talk with us about her inspiration for the magical world of The Ring and The Crown, what time period piece of clothing she’d love to bring back to 2014 and what readers can expect from the next book in The Ring and The Crown series.
The Daily Quirk: Can you tell us a bit about what inspired you to write The Ring and The Crown?
Melissa de la Cruz: I was reading Edith Wharton’s The Buccaneers, about rich American girls going abroad to land titled British husbands, a trope I’ve been captivated by for a long time. At the same time I was doing research on the Hundred Years War, and stumbled upon a sentence that stayed with me: ‘Henry VI was crowned King of England and France,’ about how the English claimed ownership of France even after losing the battle and for centuries they carried the French fleur-the-lys on their banner even when France became a republic. So I thought—what if the English prevailed and the French Valois line lost? What if this created the Franco-British empire? And what if Avalon was still around, and Merlin wasn’t some old dude in violet wizard robes but more of a political adviser to the Queen? Mists of Avalon was a huge inspiration as well as Tolstoy’s War and Peace. I’d always loved the story of Nikolai and Princess Marie, so I named my princess after her. I’m also a big fan of Julian Fellowes, not just Downton Abbey and Gosford Park but his novel Snobs. Also while I was writing The Ring and The Crown, a dear friend of mine, a beautiful American girl from a prominent, very wealthy family married a titled British lord, and my husband and I went to London for the wedding, which was very fun and very interesting to experience. The British friends we met were hilarious, dry, witty and blunt in a way Americans just aren’t. They were very entertaining, as I’m sure we were to them as casual Angelenos. It was very much the old world and the new, right in 2013. Not much has changed!
The Daily Quirk: The Ring and The Crown has a historical fiction element, but with the twist that British Empire is the reigning world power due to their control of all things magic. Can you tell us a bit about how the idea for The Ring and The Crown universe came to you?
MdlC: I think when you’re going to write about English history with magic, it has to go back to Avalon and Merlin and King Arthur. I’d wanted to re-write an Arthurian story for a long time, but I just used it as background for my new characters. I think at first I thought the book was going to be about how magic crushed the American rebellion, but then I thought it would be more interesting to explore this new empire I’d created, with a sickly princess, a strong mage, a headstrong American girl and a spurned French royal.
The Daily Quirk: What do you think it is about the stories set in the Victorian era and the early 20th century that appeals to us so strongly as readers?
MdlC: I think it’s really fun to escape to worlds like Downton Abbey because the rules of society were so stringent, and it’s just not that way anymore. So we’re fascinated by that and at the same time so grateful that we live in a modern era. We get to indulge our romantic fantasies while living in a time when women are allowed to have a voice in running the world. Not to go off on a tangent, but my friends and I –all in our 40s—are huge fans of Lena Dunham and Girls. She’s such a hero in so many ways, especially in her attitude that she has so many more things to worry about rather than her weight—and she’s beautiful and she forces society to acknowledge that—which is radical. We’re so used to worshipping a skeletal shape as the ideal. She’s so smart and such the antithesis of a Victorian doll. Anyway, what was the question? LOL!
Melissa de la Cruz is the New York Times, USA Today, Wall Street Journal, Los Angeles Times and Publisher's Weekly internationally bestselling author of many critically acclaimed novels. Her Blue Bloods series has sold over three million copies and the Witches of East End series is now an hour-long television drama on the Lifetime network.