Being a teenager is hard, even for the undead. Nobody understands this better than Richelle Mead, author of the witty YA series Vampire Academy. (If you haven't heard of it, here are some valuable cliff notes.) Zoey Deutch and Lucy Fry star as Rose and Lissa, best friends returning to their distinguished school for vampires in the big-screen adaptation, out in theaters this week. I recently spoke with Mead about what it's like seeing characters she created come to life on the set, as well as what changed when the book was translated to the big screen.
POPSUGAR: Lissa and Rose are such developed characters in the book; how involved were you in the casting process?
Richelle Mead: I wasn't involved in the casting process at all, which is pretty typical, but I'm thrilled with the way casting was done. Director Mark Waters was a big fan of the books and he really gets it. They were not only very selective of each character as an individual, but also how the actors interacted with each other. They would stick these different Lissas and Roses in pairs to see how they interacted, and the results are great.
PS: Were you on set a lot, or did you kind of just let them do their thing?
RM: I visited once for a couple days. They filmed in London and I live in Seattle and have small children. I jumped over there for a quick weekend, but I got a lot out of it. It was incredible; there are so many moving parts to a movie. There are so many people working on it, and the crew was meticulously setting up everything, complete with library posters on the walls. They work long hours and have lots of takes.
PS: How does it feel for you watching all these people work on something that was originally your vision?
RM: It goes back and forth. For a second it's totally normal, then all of a sudden you're like "What's going on?" It's crazy. It was definitely reassuring to see all that dedication. It brought a whole new dimension for me as a creator. There was an emotional scene with Rose and Lissa, and it really struck me seeing it played out in front of my eyes in person. I thought, "Oh, this is why people love the books, and this is why I love them too."
PS: How did you go about creating rules for the vampires? They're slightly different than the vampires in other pop culture, like Twilight.
RM: The world is loosely based on a Romanian myth I found. It was a scrap of a thing that references these two families, the Moroi and the Strigoi, and damphirs I'd heard of before. I really like the idea of two kinds of vampires, the living and the dead kind. If you go back to the earliest roots of vampire myth, it's always very dualistic. I just took the idea and built from it. I tried to imagine what it would look like if you were a living vampire who didn't kill for your blood but you still needed blood and you were living in the US. What would your world look like?
PS: If you could describe each of the classes of vampire in one word . . .
RM: Strigoi are evil, Moroi are complex, and damphirs are balanced.
PS: After seeing the movie, what are you most proud of as a writer?
RM: The characters really translated well onto the screen. It's always my biggest goal as a writer to make characters that, before you fall in love with them, you want to know everything that's going to happen to them. That's what hooks me as a reader. I put most of my work into the characters when I write, and I was so thrilled that the actors nailed it.
PS: What is the biggest change they made from the book to the movie?
RM: I can't pinpoint one big one; it's mostly a lot of little things throughout. They didn't radically alter major plot points or change the ending. There is a handful of things where either they had to trim down a scene or if something didn't play well visually, they may have enhanced it. One big thing that has thrown a few people off is that there are a few flashbacks and dream sequences that have been added on. When people see those in the trailers, they get confused and a little nervous because they think there's been some radical plot alteration, but really it's just something to help clarify the movie. This is a movie that you're going to look at and know instantly what book it's from. That's not always the case with adaptations.
PS: Finally, what's your favorite book-to-movie adaptation?
RM: The Lord of the Rings trilogy. I love that. I watch it over and over.