FLR: According to your website, you have written over 50 books, for children, teens and adults. Which audience do you prefer to write for and why?
MC: I swear I don’t have a particular preference! It’s great that I get to mix it up, but mostly I just feel so lucky that I get to do what I love for a living. I’m still in shock that any of this happened.
FLR: Some of us are old enough to remember an unfortunate time when chick lit was not yet considered “legitimate” literature by many and was sometimes the victim of literary snobbery. Which other authors, beside yourself, do you think have helped to build chick lit into the lucrative, well-respected genre it is now?
MC: Some writers might balk at having their work being labeled “lit for chicks,” but to me, that’s the ultimate compliment! Writing about so-called “women’s issues” (which are really universal issues, whether it’s battling bad guys or a disease, finding yourself and your true place in the world, landing the perfect career or Mr.--or Ms.--Right) is how Jane Austen got her start.
So many authors paved the way for Helen Fielding and Candace Bushnell… Gail Parent (Sheila Levine is Dead and Living in New York), Judy Blume (Wifey), Susan Isaacs (Compromising Positions). I love those books so much. Those authors took up the torch from Jane, and we’ve never been wanting for something good to read since.
FLR: Your June 2010 title, Insatiable, is your first paranormal romance for adults. Who are some of your favorite adult paranormal authors and why?
MC: I could never pick favorites because, just like your BFFs, they all bring a little something special to the party!
Hard as I’ve tried I’ve never been able to escape the classics (I grew up in a college town around college professors). So Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein and Polidori’s The Vampyr: A Tale and Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre (people forget that Jane reached out to Mr. Rochester psychically across the moors) were all part of my childhood. And of course Bram Stoker’s Dracula was partly the inspiration for Insatiable.
Stoker’s protagonist, Mina Harker, was the first feminist of vampire fiction (she fought alongside van Helsing and her husband against Dracula)! Without her, we’d have no Sookie Stackhouse or Anita Blake, let alone Buffy, and certainly no Meena Harper (the heroine of Insatiable—it’s no coincidence her name is patterned after Mina’s)!
FLR: In your opinion, what effect is the popularity of teen paranormal titles having on chick lit for teens? Is paranormal the new teen chick lit? Do you believe the paranormal genre is here to stay, or a short-lived trend lasting a few years?
MC: I read—and loved—YA and adult paranormals when I was a teen/tween. It’s a genre that never has and never will go out of style. My first paranormal for teens (Shadowland, Book One in the Mediator series, about a girl who moves to a new town and meets a hot guy—too bad he’s been dead for two hundred years) originally came out in the year 2000. It (and the rest of the series) hasn’t been out of print in the decade since its publication.
Readers are still—and always will be—hungry for great stories about real people, told in a voice they can relate to: Sarah Dessen can’t keep up with the demand for her work, and there’s not a ghost or werewolf in it. The fact is, good books by good writers will always find an eager audience.