Richelle Mead on the mythology of Vampire Academy


Richelle Mead explains:

“I took a class at the University of Michigan on Slavic folklore and mythology. One of the units we studied was on vampires, and we had the opportunity to read some really great stories and examine a lot of the symbolism behind those old tales. Years later, when I decided to write a vampire novel, I decided I wanted to base my series out of that same region. So I went searching through eastern European mythology again and eventually found a reference to Mori and Strigoi that I thought could really make a great foundation for a vampire society. Dhampirs are a little widespread in pop culture, and I’d heard of them before, though they, too, come from this same region. What’s funny is that I decided early on that my kick-ass heroine would be a dhampir, simply because I liked the mix of human and vampire traits. Later, I learned that in a lot of eastern European myths, dhampirs have a reputation for being great vampire hunters. There were those who believed that if an evil vampire was causing trouble, you needed to recruit a dhampir to come get rid of him or her. So, without even realizing it, I’d cast Rose in a traditional warrior role!” (p.31)

Ref: (emphases in bold mine) Brandon T. Snider (2013) Vampire Academy: The Official Illustrated Movie Companion. Razorbill, Penguin: New York


Vampire Academy links


Some of Richelle Mead’s favorite links and fan sites according to Vampire Academy: The Ultimate Guide (so some years ago):

Ref: Michelle Rowen with Richelle Mead (c2011) Vampire Academy: The Ultimate Guide. Penguin: New York

the Vampire Academy film


A note on the Vampire Academy film posted earlier this month on

Interesting! :

A note from the producers of Vampire Academy: Blood Sisters!

Posted in Movie NewsNews, on April 4th, by Ella | 0 |

Here is a note that the producers of the VA Movie posted not too long ago on the Official VA Movie facebook page:

“It’s been awhile since our last update, so we want to take this opportunity to get everyone caught up on our progress and all the production news for the movie.

1. Casting. This is the most asked about issue by the fans. So here’s the deal! Casting for the remaining characters for the first film is officially underway once again.

2. Locations. The final locations for shooting are now being decided by our director Mark Waters. The big news is we will be shooting the movie in Europe, mostly in and around the UK, with additional photography planned in Montana.

3. Green light. The project was officially declared to proceed as of April 1. Our targeted (estimated) date to begin production is the last week in May.

4. The Movie Crew has begun work with Mark in the UK, who is already in London. We are assembling an amazing line up of seasoned behind-the-scenes production talent for all the important work to be done.

5. The Weinstein Company is busy at work developing their plans to launch both the Official Movie Web Page and social media campaign and marketing for the film. We look forward to working closely with them in the near future, as they begin to roll out their exciting new plans.

As always, we will strive to update everyone on progress as events allow, and look forward with great appreciation for your continuing support, encouragement and inspiration, as we endeavor to bring this incredible series to the Big Screen!

All our Best,

Mike Preger
Don Murphy
Susan Montford
Deepak Nayar


Fear takes root in our motives and purposes


Drawing on a statement of David L. Altheide’s, Zygmunt Bauman writes that “it is not fear of danger “that is most critical, but rather what this fear can expand into, what it can become… Social life changes when people live behind walls, hire guards, drive armoured vehicles… carry mace and handguns, and take martial arts classes. The problem is that these activities reaffirm and help produce a senes of disorder that our actions perpetuate.”” (quoting David L. Altheide, p.132)

Bauman then takes this discussion further: “Fears prompt us to take defensive action, and taking defensive action gives immediacy, tangibility and credibility to the genuine [-p.133] or putative threats from which the fears are presumed to emanate. It is our response to anxiety that recasts sombre premonition as daily reality, giving a flesh-and-blood body to a spectre. Fear takes root in our motives and purposes, settles in our actions and saturates our daily routines; if it hardly needs any further stimuli from outside, it is because the actions it prompts day in, day out supply all the motivation, all the justification and all the energy required to keep it alive, branching out and blossoming.” (pp.132-133))

I liked these statements… and couldn’t help thinking or Richelle Mead’s Vampire Academy series…

Ref: (italics in original; emphases in blue bold, mine) Zygmunt Bauman (2006) Liquid Fear. Polity Press: Cambridge, UK

Friendship and choice – themes in urban fantasy…


I’m just thinking out loud…

Reading The Iron Witch, by Karen Mahoney, I came across a couple of passages that seemed to speak for the genre (of Urban Fantasy, that is). Specifically, these passages seemed to be more overt instances of themes I had wondered about with regards to Richelle Mead’s Vampire Academy series and Cassandra Clare’s Mortal Instruments series…

Sometimes melodramatic writing just seems to put these things more concisely and it helps form questions for the other texts…

Friendship and individual choice…

These are two pressures commonly associated with adolescence, but it seems to me that a lot of the vampire fiction out there at the moment – and a lot of the faery stuff that sits alongside it, too – takes a special interest in the issues of individual choice in a social world and the bonds of (urban?) friendship. Consider, for example, these passages in The Iron Witch:

from chapter five

“‘You tell me everything.’ The words were out of her mouth before she could stop them. Navin looked at her carefully. She had never seen him look more solemn. All the humor drained out of him, and his mouth, usually so quick to smile, had drawn into a [-p.81] tight line. ‘Maybe I don’t tell you everything, Don. We all have secrets. I just learned that today.’

She bit her lip. Dammit, this was something she would not be able to stand; there was no way she could go on without Navin beside her. But he was right. She had kept secrets; maybe too many of them for their friendship to survive. She had always believed that she didn’t have a choice – the Order had its rules, and she’d followed them because… well, because that’s what you do when you grow up among the alchemists.

But of course, now she knew an important but painful truth; the choice had been hers all along. Donna had chosen to follow the rules. That choice could cost her the most important person in her life; it could cost her Navin.” (italics in original, pp.80-81)

Okay, so it’s slightly melodramatic (this forms the end of chapter 5), but you get the picture – choices in friendship can be life-changing. The loss of a best friend = the ultimate cost… what does it all mean?

from chapter six

“Apparently it [Moon Sister] was a title she herself could look forward to if she followed in her parents’ footsteps and became a full initiate when she was eighteen. It wasn’t something she liked to think about, because it wasn’t something she wanted to do. She just hadn’t gotten around to telling anybody that. And she wasn’t entirely sure that they would listen to her if she did.” (87)

Here the boundary crossing of turning 18 is given magical impetus, yes, but the importance of individual choice attached to it connects with the experiences of the stereotypical adolescent reader…

Appropriate behaviours within relationships…

“Donna had tried really hard not to think about how toned Xan’s chest was while examining the imprint of the elf’s jagged teeth. This wasn’t the time to act like a teenager. [-p.112] But I am a teenager, she’d wanted to shout. It was so unfair – why did these things have to happen? Why couldn’t she just have a normal life? And then she immediately felt angry with herself for the blast of self-pity. She was determined to accept whatever life had to throw at her.” (italics in original, 111-112)

What is ‘acting like a teenager’? and when is the time to act in this way?

Is it surprising at all that the next scene is one in which protagonist and ‘hot boy’ share secrets by showing each other the parts of their bodies that make them ‘freakish’?

The question of behaviour and relationships comes to the fore later when Donna writes in her journal: “Being brought up as a child of the alchemists pretty much sucks. / What makes it worse, though, in so many ways is that Mom and Dad are well-known and, even today, remembered as heroes – or so I’m told. The Underwood name is one to be reckoned with. Can you imagine the pressure that puts me under? Seriously, if I told everyone I just wanted to go to a regular college once I’ve graduated, maybe travel for a while and then study literature, or even take some courses in creative writing… yeah, my life wouldn’t be worth living. / The Order has invested in me, you see. These tattoos of mine don’t come cheap. / My childhood has been taken up with training, lessons, operations for my arms, and exercises to control my strength – an “unfortunate side effect” (Maker’s words) of the iron holding me together. / It would be nice just to be a teenager. / But how is it fair that a teenager in the modern world should have to live by outdated rules laid down in dusty old books centuries ago? Rules made by a white, patriarchal system that patronized women and called them stupid things like ‘Moon Sister.’ Ugh.” (146)

Adult institutions and choice…

“Even before the tangle of questions had finished filling her overwrought mind, she knew the answer. It wasn’t that she didn’t trust her aunt; it was more about her growing suspicion that she couldn’t trust the Order. Donna had never really been comfortable with the organization that practically ran her life – a secret society that kept secrets from her even about her own parents.

She had a horrible suspicion that all of these things were linked, but she didn’t know how the pieces fit together. Of course, that didn’t mean that she couldn’t find out. Starting tomorrow.” (italics in original, 134)

There is this sense here that Donna, the adolescent protagonist, needs to establish her own beliefs urgently; that the adult institution, the Order of the Dragon (an order of alchemists to which her family belongs), may not be safe or trustworthy. How reliable are adult institutions? When does the adolescent develop his/her own relationship with these institutions? How does ‘individual choice’ connect in with this?

Roberta Seelinger Trites’ ideas about power, adolescence, and the YA novel come to mind here too… the way this and other novels written in a similar vein deal with these ideas really just seems to reaffirm what she wrote about in her article, ‘The Harry Potter novels as a test case for adolescent literature’ Style 35(3)2001, pp.472+

Ref: emphases in blue bold, mind Karen Mahoney (2011) The Iron Witch. Random House: Sydney

Vampire Academy


Richelle Mead’s Vampire Academy series strikes me as really interesting (and certainly rates the ‘popular’ tag).  I haven’t decided which I might take it academically, but it’s fun and has a huge fan-base. That’s a great place to start to get a sense of how its being read…

In what seems to be a theme in recent vampire fiction, the main character, Rose, has ‘bad-ass’ tough heroine appeal… Did Josh Whelan’s decision to create Buffy have some rather serious lasting effects? What is it with BFFs and vampires? What hold do they have exactly on our imagination of relationships?

A couple of links:

The book’s page on Penguin; (and connected, of course, the Bloodlines book page…)

The author’s homepage;

The author on YouTube; on the Vampire Academy seriesdiscussing the end of Vampire Academyon Dimitri Belikovon Rose Hathawayon Adrian Ivashkovon Sydney Sageon Jill Dragomirabout the narrator in BLOODLINES; answering fans’ questions (part 1part 2part 3, part 4); Richelle Mead/writing in Seattlethe inspiration for her novels; readingsand heaps of others – just click around…

There’s a whole series of fan-made trailers on YouTube (find one and click on);

Fan sites: Vampire;; FaceBook interest in the upcoming movie; Fan Fiction;

Note also:  

There is a guide to the series, Vampire Academy: the Ultimate Guide, by Michelle Rowen and Richelle Mead

The books are available as e-books… (eg. Frostbite)