Tuesday is a bittersweet day for fans of Richelle Mead's "Vampire Academy" series, as the sixth book, "Last Sacrifice" hits shelves. Half-vampire/half-human teen bodyguard Rose Hathaway at last gets to see an end to her many heartbreaks and death-threatening adventures. Whether you're savoring every last word of Dimitri's and Adrian's, or just entering St. Vladimir's for the first time, take a second to read my interview with Richelle, in which she talked about both the origin and conclusion of the series, what fans can expect from next year's spin-off series "Bloodlines" and how the movie adaptation is going along (actually, check back here tomorrow for that part).
MTV: How did you decide to write a young-adult vampire series in the first place?
Richelle Mead: I had sold my first two adult books—["Succubus Blues"*] and then the "Dark Swan" series—there was such a lag in publishing that first book. So I had free time, and I thought, "I'll just start a third series." I was teaching eighth or ninth grade at the time. Vampires were mostly chosen because they were the next thing I hadn't written about. Georgina [of the "Succubus" books] has demons and angels; "Dark Swan" is fairy based. It was like, let's spin the wheel of paranormal creatures!
I hadn't even heard of "Twilight" at the time. [But] by the time "Vampire Academy" was finished and up for submission, the publishers were comparing it to "Twilight." My agent came back and was like, "So and so said it was too much like it. So and so said it wasn't enough like it." And I was like, "What is it?" I'm glad I lived in a bubble at the time.
But your vampires are very different from the ones in "Twilight."
I was just kind of digging around for an interesting take. I found this little Romanian myth about two races of vampires [Moroi and Strigoi], and I built it up from there.
Did you make a conscious effort to have such a strong girl at the center of the story?
I'm always a little surprised when people say, "Wow, that's a weird thing to have a strong female character." I wouldn't know how to write a weak female character. I read so much epic fantasy growing up, where you have these sword-wielding, in-your-face warrior maidens. I think that's influenced me, so that even writing in the modern world, my characters have to be strong. There was never any question with this series that she would be strong both mentally and physically.
What did it feel like to write "Last Sacrifice"?
It wasn't sad exactly. I was ready to sort of wrap things up. Mostly, what I felt was the pressure and the difficulty involved in wrapping things up. The nice thing about a series is you can end on cliffhangers all the time. You can be like, you know what? Here we go, this person just died, end of book. And with the end of the series, you're very conscious of all the plotlines that were left hanging. There's a balance there to wrap those up but still leave it exciting. There wasn't much time for heartache, 'cause I was so focused on the craft of the book.
But now you have a spin-off series?
There is going to be a spin-off. We're not done with "Vampire Academy" yet. You can probably walk away from "Last Sacrifice," knowing the threads that were kind of left. I had to wrap up Rose, but there are a few characters with issues that still need to be resolved. There's only so many traumatic tragedies Rose can be put through, I guess.
But are we done with Dimitri?
*The Georgina Kincaid "Succubus" novels (definitely for a mature audience) are my latest book addiction. Go read now!
Are you excited to get your hands on "Last Sacrifice"? How do you hope things wrap up? Tell us in the comments and on Twitter.