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L. J. Smith
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L. J. Smith   L. J. Smith is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of Night World, Dark Visions, and The Vampire Diaries, which is now a hit TV series on The CW. Long before Buffy and Twilight came out, readers have enjoyed L. J. Smith's supernatural stories of high school romance between vampires and humans.

Buy L. J. Smith's Books at the following locations: (downloadable audio books) (independent bookstores)
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This episode originally aired on 11/19/2009 with the following authors:
Note: The following interview has been transcribed from The Author Hour radio show. Please excuse any typos, spelling and gramatical errors.

Interview with L. J. Smith

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Matthew Peterson: My next guest is L. J. Smith, #1 New York Times best-selling author of Night World, Dark Visions, and The Vampire Diaries, which is now a TV series. Thanks for being on the show today Lisa.

L. J. Smith: Very good to be here. Thank you, Matt.

Matthew Peterson: Now, back in the 1991, way before Twilight came out, you started a series about a high school girl who discovers that her boyfriend is a vampire.

L. J. Smith: Yeah.

Matthew Peterson: Almost two decades later, The Vampire Diaries is now a television series and is really having a come back. We’ve all heard about the dream Stephanie Meyer had that gave her the inspiration for Twilight.

L. J. Smith: [laughs] Actually, I hadn’t heard that.

Matthew Peterson: Oh, you hadn’t? Yeah, she had a dream and “I think I’ll write a vampire book.” What was the trigger for you that helped give you the idea to write The Vampire Diaries?

L. J. Smith: I was given a call by some people who wanted a trilogy of vampire books written and they said that they wanted me, within nine months, to produce 3 books about vampires. So the idea was that there were two brothers who were both in love with the same girl: one good brother, one bad brother. And I kind of like the bad brother better, that’s Damon, and he’s one of my favorite characters to work with, so it didn’t come out exactly perhaps as it was intended, but it seems that people enjoy the effect, so I can’t complain.

Matthew Peterson: Yep, yep. So, you wrote three in nine months?

L. J. Smith: Exactly.

Matthew Peterson: [laughs]

L. J. Smith: I didn’t do much else than writing, and right now I don’t do much but writing either.

Matthew Peterson: Yeah. Well, there was like a, you know, kind of a ten year break between writing any books. What happened there? What was the reason for that?

L. J. Smith: That was a very serious family issue. My brother-in-law had some very serious medical problems that frankly he was not supposed to live through and then my mother unfortunately passed away from lung cancer. So for ten years actually, just like a faucet, my imagination was turned off. And you can imagine what agony that is for a writer. I really wanted to write that whole time and was trying to, but I was not able to.

Matthew Peterson: So what helped you to get out of that?

L. J. Smith: Well, I was call it . . . I was an agnostic, before my mother died. After she died I began to write poetry about her and then I began to write short stories and novels. So I always call it, my mother, that she’s like my guardian angel who sort of came back to watch over me.

Matthew Peterson: Hmm, okay. So the poetry helped you to kind of get out of the slump and to start writing a little bit.

L. J. Smith: Yeah, I feel really that it was my mom who did it. She came back, sat on my shoulder and said, “Yes, you can write again.” And I almost physically felt her presence, which is rather odd because I’m a very logical person.

Matthew Peterson: Yeah, yeah. Well, that’s a nice story there. Well, the Vampire Diaries, like I said, is having a come back. There were many years with nothing and now we’ve got new books! There’s a TV series, and I must say I have been watching it. [laughs]

L. J. Smith: [laughs]

Matthew Peterson: And I’m sure they deviated from the series.

L. J. Smith: They deviated in a number of places, but I think they did, overall, a magnificent job. I was so thrilled that it was Kevin Williamson who was doing this, you know, because it was just so exciting to get the guy who had done Dawson’s Creek to be doing my work.

Matthew Peterson: Yeah, yeah. What was your first reaction when you found out that they were going to do a TV series?

L. J. Smith: Well, I found out by stages, of course. First you hear that maybe they’ll do it; they take an option on it. So at every stage I just said, “Calm down. Calm down. It’s probably not going to happen.” And now that they’ve just told me that they were doing a full season of filming, then I allowed myself to say, “Yipee!”

Matthew Peterson: Yipee! There might be a next season too. And you just never know.

L. J. Smith: Yeah. Well, we’re getting really high ratings. It’s the highest rated show on Thursday nights of all the networks in the kids and teens area. So it’s doing really well. So I’m happy.

Matthew Peterson: Well, they moved Smallville to a different night. I think Smallville was Thursday.

L. J. Smith: Did they? I don’t watch TV, actually, I had to buy a TV for this. [laughs]

Matthew Peterson: I heard that! I heard that you didn’t really have a TV plugged in or anything. [laughs]

L. J. Smith: No, I had to actually buy one and get the cable and get the guy to come in and turn it on and all that.

Matthew Peterson: Yeah. “Just put it on that channel, all I have to do is turn the TV on, on Thursdays.”

Tell us a little bit about the Vampire Diaries, the earlier books, and then tell us a little bit about the new books that you’re writing.

L. J. Smith: The earlier books were really about Elena who’s the heroine, and she was blonde in the books. I’m not sure quite why they changed her to brunette in the TV series, but maybe that was just the best actress they could find.

Matthew Peterson: Yeah.

L. J. Smith: In that case, I approve. Anyway, teenage girl. Perfectly ordinary, and she falls in love with a guy and finds out that he’s a vampire. And more than this, there are terrible dark events happening all over the town, which is a very small town. And she’s a little bit afraid that her boyfriend may have been doing these, but actually, it seems that they’re being done by her boyfriend’s brother, who she was not introduced to nor did he tell her that he had one. But her boyfriend’s brother, Damon, is not your happy-go-lucky guy. He’s actually kind of a willful, impudent, arrogant, I don’t know if I can say all the words on the radio but . . . [laughs]

Matthew Peterson: [laughs]

L. J. Smith: He has a sort of twisted way of looking at things. And one of the things he wants is Elena and that’s what the earlier books are about. He goes so far to get Elena that she actually shares enough blood between him and Stefan, who is doing it with her as a sort of act of love, that when she crashes her car off a bridge and drowns, she becomes a vampire herself.

Matthew Peterson: Mmm.

L. J. Smith: And the story is one of redemption of how a girl who’s really kind of a social butterfly and an egoist learns that she’s not the story of the universe; she’s not the thing the world turns around. And she realizes that other people mean a lot more than she does. And it’s a story of redemption for the boys too, especially for Damon, who ends up finding himself with a choice to sort of stick by her side or to perhaps go with a greater villain and stay alive.

Matthew Peterson: So there’s kind of like this love triangle going on.

L. J. Smith: Yes, and it’s a real love triangle because in the next group of books, Stefan has been kidnaped. And it’s really the story, whatever my publishers may think and whatever other people may not want, it’s the story of Elena falling in love with Damon to the same extent that she is in love with Stefan. So we have a real love triangle.

Matthew Peterson: And you have another series that is starting up again after all these years as well.

L. J. Smith: The Night World series, which I do with a different publisher. The next book in it is supposed to be the epic ending to the Night World series, called Strange Fate. And in it the world actually ends. We see the apocalypse.

Matthew Peterson: So there’s lots of different supernatural characters in that one?

L. J. Smith: In Night World, you see the whole array of supernatural characters, yes.

Matthew Peterson: That is interesting. Lisa, we have a commercial coming up, and I’ve been speaking with L. J. Smith, #1 New York Times best-selling author of Night World, Dark Visions, and The Vampire Diaries. Thank you so much for being on the show today, Lisa.

L. J. Smith: It’s a delight, Matt. Thank you.

Matthew Peterson: Well, that’s it for today. Make sure you visit to listen to the bonus questions that didn’t make it on to the live show. In fact, next week I’m going to do a “Best of” episode with all my favorite bonus questions from previous guests. Should be a lot of fun. Plus, I might have a mystery guest. We’ll see. See ya next week!

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