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Richelle Mead | Writing Pressures

April 9, 2008

The release of a new book is always a scary thing. The debut novel? Especially terrifying. A new series? Yikes. Nail-biting. Yet, none of these compare to the pressure of when the second book in a series is about to come out…

When Vampire Academy was released last fall, I didn’t know what to expect. Adult urban fantasy was where I felt most comfortable; I’d kind of stumbled into YA. Fortunately, Vampire Academy had solid sales early on, which was a huge relief. (When you write full time, you always have the weight of the rent and the grocery bill on you!) But then something else started happening. I started getting fan mail–lots of it. I’d gotten a fair amount of it with Succubus Blues, but nothing like this. And reading through these emails, I discovered something. People weren’t just buying my book; they loved my book.

That’s every author’s dream. It was my dream–and is still my dream today. I’ve often said that I don’t need J. K. Rowling fame, so long as I have a large enough group of devoted fans to let me keep writing. I stand by that–only, I didn’t realize how daunting that would end up being. Frostbite, the sequel to Vampire Academy, was written while I was in the process of getting divorced. Those writing conditions were, uh, not optimal in the least. I had just about finished its revisions when Vampire Academy really took off, and suddenly, I started freaking out. These fans were telling me how much they loved the first book and how they couldn’t wait to read Frostbite. I panicked. Was I going to let them down? Was this manuscript good enough for them? I felt like I should have been locked away in a pristine mountain retreat to write the book, not plotting chapters in the throes of depression and monetary settlements. I was certain I should have done something more in writing the book–only, considering the circumstances, I didn’t think there was anything more I could have done.

And it was too late anyway. The book had to go to press. I had a great editorial team at my back, and I had to believe that all of us had done our jobs. Still, the worry stayed. Mail from people who were excited about the book was still coming in, and soon, it was joined by people who were also excited about the third book! I have a new series coming out in the fall, beginning with Storm Born, and friends were asking me if I was nervous about it. My response: “Hell no! That one has no expectations yet. All the pressure’s on Frostbite.” I so, so wanted it be good enough for my readers.

Then, last week, I got an unexpected email. It was from someone who had apparently gotten a hold of an early copy of Frostbite, and–they loved it. A huge pressure suddenly lifted from me. A day or so later, I heard from someone else with an early copy of Frostbite–and they loved it too. Slowly, it began to occur to me that maybe I had done it after all, that I really had written a book my readers loved as much as the first. It’s an amazing feeling.

Knowing this has suddenly taken the stress off from book 3, Shadow Kiss. I finished it a week ago and had a bit of that same fear while writing it: should I be doing more? Should I be in the mountain retreat to make sure this is perfect? But, the truth is, books aren’t written in mountain retreats. Well, not most of them. They’re written in chaos, while we’re happy and while we’re hurting, and that all goes into the pages. That’s how authors write, and that’s what makes good writing.

Thank you so much for letting me blog today! More info about me and my books can be found at:

Richelle Mead

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