Hey guys! Help me welcome Melissa De La Cruz! After reading her guest post, check on my side bar for a link to enter the giveaway for My Bloody Valentine.
Q: What has been the most rewarding aspect of becoming such a big name in the YA community?
I am finding this a difficult question to answer, since the most rewarding aspect of becoming a "big name" (and like Sue Sylvester, I accept this with great false modesty J) are the usual rewards of any kind of popularity. Suddenly so many people want to be my friend, they laugh at my jokes, they invite me to parties, they think I'm really, really cool. (Which translates as, I get invited to more book fairs and conferences than ever before, and now I get sent on book tours and have a seat at the fancy publisher dinners I was never privy to in the past.)
Having been unpopular in high school, and noticing how people act around the "popular people" – the lucky few who have something everyone else wants: beauty (shiny hair, perfect teeth), or money (the BMW on the 16th birthday) or an inner self-confidence remarkable for a teenager (which usually comes from having these things), it's very strange to suddenly find myself in the "beauty bubble" since I'm still the same person, the same writer, before all the hoopla and the bestseller lists.
Being a "big name" or having sold a lot of books is rewarding as it brings a lot of validation, it says to the world: TOLD YA! I ROCK! SUCK IT UP! I used to call it "shut up" money. As in, I'm a success, so everyone can shut up now. Heh.
But to say that it is rewarding? I'm not sure. It's nice being in the bubble, certainly. There's champagne there, and god knows I love champagne. But here's a thing about bubbles—they pop. My motto has always been "Don’t Get Used To It." So for me, the most rewarding aspect of being a "big name" in the YA community is the same as when I was a nobody. The most rewarding aspect is the ability to be part of a young person's life. When I was a teen, books were the most important part of my life, I didn't have a boyfriend, but I was in love with Aragorn and Legolas, and my ideas of love were shaped by the relationships of Anne and Gilbert, Jo and the Professor, Lestat and Louis. J I wanted to move to New York because of Bright Lights, Big City and I'll Take Manhattan. Books allow you to dream, and to aspire to a different life than you are living. Books are everything. I didn't have a lot of friends, but I had a lot of books.
So when I hear from my readers, when they send emails and messages through Twitter, and create fan art, and come to my readings and tell me they want to be writers too, or that my books helped them through a hard part of school, or that my books were an escape from a difficult situation they were facing (parents' divorce, dad lost his job), it's incredibly soul-changing, and spirit-fortifying. It's certainly very rewarding to be able to reach a lot more people than I used to, as opposed to when my books would stay on the shelves for a few months and then disappear forever.
During my latest tour, a lot of the kids who came to the events weren't kids anymore. They were college kids who had started reading Blue Bloods in high school, or they were out of college and at their first jobs, some were newlyweds or first-time moms, and it's so corny—but it was so rewarding to see "my" kids grow up. Blue Bloods came out in 2006, and to know that my characters have been part of their lives for so long, that they're still invested in the story, and want to know what happens next, is just so very gratifying. I'm just unrolling a big spool of yarn here, and it just tickles me that I have an audience for all my spinning.