‘The Vampire Diaries’ Author L.J. Smith Talks ‘Twilight’

The writer of the 1990s teen series is happy that vampires are in again.

“The Vampire Diaries” author L.J. Smith is very happy that “another vampire craze” has come along, 18 years after she wrote the story of a human girl caught in a love triangle between two bloodsucking brothers that is now one of the CW’s new breakout series.

“I was busy nursing my mom, and I didn’t know that they had republished my books until they were telling me that the second one had debuted at #5 on the New York Times Best Seller List,” Smith told MTV News from her home in the Bay Area of California. It was then that she became aware of the “Twilight” phenomenon, which she good-naturedly credits with the renewed interest in orphaned high school student Elena, “good” vampire Stefan Salvatore (who abstains from human blood) and his dangerous older brother, Damon. And that vampire resurgence led Smith to pick up where she left off in 1992 and begin a new trilogy, “The Vampire Diaries: The Return,” in 2008.

But many readers weren’t so comfortable with the existence of two such popular teen-vampire sagas. “There’s two kinds of floods of mail I get. One, there’s the floods of mail from people accusing me of stealing, and they list about 30 things from ‘Twilight.’ I usually write back just one sentence: ‘Look at the copyright date.’ Actually, I get a tremendous amount of apologies back. A lot of people have the guts to write back and say, ‘Oh, my God, I’m so sorry.’

“I have other people who are very incensed and want to write to me about all the things that ‘Twilight’ has in it that were in both [my other supernatural series] ‘Night World’ and ‘Vampire Diaries,’ ” continued Smith, who diligently communicates with her fans through her Web site. “But I haven’t seen ‘Twilight.’ I haven’t read any of the books. I can’t really comment on any of that. I don’t really need to because I have so much to do anyway.”

She’s not kidding. After a nearly 10-year hiatus from writing due to family illness, Smith has been extremely prolific. “I signed up for five books at a time, and that has kept me writing without a vacation for a very long time,” she said. One of those, which she just finished, is “Shadow Souls,” part two of “The Return,” due out February 2010.

” ‘Shadow Souls,’ pushes probably every border that you can,” she explained. “It’s a gentler, kinder Damon. It’s a more fluffy-bunny Damon, which people like. He’s definitely got the half-tamed-panther fierceness there, but he also does some nice things. It’s always good to see a bad boy who at the last minute does something nice.”

If Smith unabashedly favors the bad brother in her books, she’s also becoming a big fan of him on the small screen too. “I especially like Damon; Ian Somerhalder does very well,” she said. “But I really, really like the Elena that they picked, Nina Dobrev. Even though she’s brunette, and not blond, which took some getting used to for me, she’s a great actress. And I love the Stefan that they’ve picked. I just think that they’ve done a terrific job of interpreting it for TV.”

For more on what L.J. Smith thinks of the CW’s “Vampire Diaries,” and to find out which other novels she’d like to see adapted for the screen, head over to the Hollywood Crush blog.