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 reader’s 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!
TDQ: 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.
TDQ: 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!
TDQ: The varying viewpoints give a unique look at the intrigue and plots of the characters, but also a better understanding of them through each others’ eyes. What made you decide to to tell the story in this way?
MdlC: I’ve always written my books through multiple characters’ perspectives, Blue Bloods always has three POV narrators. So it just seemed natural to tell the story—especially a big story, that way. I haven’t written in first person in fiction a decade I would say.
TDQ: The characters in The Ring and The Crown, both privileged and otherwise, go through some serious trials and tribulations. Is there any one scene that stands out as having been difficult for you to write?
MdlC: Probably the scene where Isabelle confronts her guardian at the end, of what was done to her. That was a hard scene to write since her story is so very sad, and what I wanted to show in Isabelle’s story was that this was a terrible time for women—if you had no protection, if your dad died, if you were an orphan, you were pretty defenseless. I have a lot of sympathy for Isabelle and I think there is a lot of wish-fulfillment in abuse stories like Girl with a Dragon Tattoo, where Lisbeth Sander is shown taking revenge on those who wronged her, but that’s mostly not the case in these situations. But it’s not the end of Isabelle’s story, and without spoiling it I will say she will find justice.
TDQ: Is there a specific character that you feel you can relate to more than the others?
MdlC: All my characters are part of me, but I am very sympathetic to Marie and Ronan’s plight. Marie is that quiet, plain smart girl who always felt like a wallflower, while Ronan is a beauty who lets fear and shallowness overcome her good heart. I have a lot of affection for both of them, as I do for all my characters.
TDQ: Can you give us any hints at about what to expect in the sequel?
MdlC: It’s a very romantic story about how people fall in love in an arranged marriage. It’s hinted at the end of The Ring and The Crown, and I would say the sequel is a full-blown swoon. I think I wrote the first book just so I could write the second really. It’s so juicy and delicious with lots of scandal and betrayals and tragedy!
TDQ: Do you have any other upcoming projects that you’re currently working on that you can tell us a little more about?
MdlC: Not at the moment – the new projects have not been announced yet but I am very busy! Meanwhile, I have the adult spinoff to Blue Bloods, Vampires of Manhattan, that is coming out this September, and my husband and I are working on the sequel to Frozen, the next book, Stolen, comes out in November.
TDQ: Other than Witches of East End, if you had to pick one of the many fabulously successful books or series you’ve written to get a book-to-screen adaptation, which one would you choose?
MdlC: I’m actively working on trying to get The Ring and The Crown on air, so hopefully that will happen. It’s such a lush and visually exciting world, and lots of fun characters and stories. I think my fans would love to see Blue Bloods adapted too. I wasn’t ready before, the story was too close to my heart and I was still writing it. Now that the series has ended, it would be nice to see it made.
TDQ: A lot of attention is given to the fabulous time-period fashion in The Ring and The Crown and you’ve worked as a fashion and beauty editor, so we have to ask, what’s your favorite fashion time period and which piece of clothing would you want to bring back to 2014?
MdlC: I love the flapper dresses of the 1920s and the bob and the fringe and the long cigarette holders. I think flapper dresses come back into style every so often, so that’s cool. I love the big ball gowns of the 18th and 19th centuries but they also look really uncomfortable. I’m not a fan of wearing a corset. I love the flappers- they cut their hair, they wore comfy dresses, and they still looked fabulous! That’s my kind of fashion. I ‘d take edgy over pretty any day.
The Daily Quirk would like to thank Author Melissa de la Cruz for chatting with us! To find out more about The Ring and The Crown Series watch the Official Trailer and visit the Official Site. To find out more about Author Melissa de la Cruz, you can follow her Facebook, Twitter and Tumblr.