Richelle Mead on the mythology of Vampire Academy

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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

Adapting VA to screen

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…been reading about adapting Richelle Mead’s Vampire Academy books to screen… and I just found some of these points interesting, in terms of considering how  the books work…

Snider notes that “Richelle Mead’s story about the bond between two young women eclipsed expectations and delivered a modern, fresh take on classic vampire mythology. Not one to be done in by overused tropes of the past, Mead drew from previously untouched folklore to craft a story that transcended the genre and propelled the vampire’s long and sordid history in a bold new direction.” (p.11) “Mead’s story is thick with vampiric imagery and folklore, but those elements are just part of a larger, more important tale. The backdrop of St. Vladimir’s Academy allows Mead’s heroines a chance to experience the dramatic ups and downs that come with burgeoning adulthood. Just as any typical teenager deals with gossip, peer pressure, and the pangs of young love, so do Rose and Lissa. Together the two young women take ownership of their lives and the choices they’ve made, and though they can be sensitive and emotional, make no mistake – they’re not to be trifled with. They fight to the death to stand up for what they believe in. Thematically, Mead confronted numerous emotional issues like survivor’s guilt and depression, blending fantasy with reality to [-p.13] create an exciting new world all her own.” (pp.12-13)

Mead has explained that “Rose’s character and personality were, in some ways, inspired by one of my adult characters: Eugenie from the Dark Swan series. Eugenie’s another action heroine who’s [-p.14] not afraid to get in a fight, but she’s a twenty-something woman who has already come to terms with who she is and who she wants to be. I began to wonder what it’d be like to write about a younger character, one who was kick-ass and not afraid to stand up for her beliefs, but who was still growing, finding her identity, and also learning what it means to control her fighter impulses. I was fascinated by the idea of that journey.” (pp.13-14)

According to Michael Preger, “The setting and world are fascinating but most of all, for me, it was the strong female relationship between Rose and Lissa that captured my interest; their independence, self-reliance, and loyalty to one another, above all others. They are the kind of role models that instill a different perception of females in today’s world. Something often lacking in today’s storytelling. But it doesn’t end there. The mythic underpinnings of this vampiric universe are unique. It’s not the same old monster story. It’s a wonderful setting to explore interesting personality dynamics between the characters.” (pp.24-25)

Producer Susan Montford noted: “I wanted to explore the friendship and bond between the two teenage girls, and the responsibility and cost of developing and honoring their talents and gifts. …Rose and Lissa’s dynamic is very relatable and forms the central thread through the story.” (p.27)

Daniel Waters explained that: “I was having a problem that the girls, in many ways, sit around waiting for new information and new dead animals to drop in their laps (a novel can get away with that more than a movie, especially when we are caught up in Richelle’s writing), but making the fate of Ms. Karp and even the true nature of why Rose and Lissa left the Academy in the first place into actual mysteries that the girls must proactively investigate – it suddenly gave the film an engine.
The elements of the movie are still mostly from Rose’s point of view, but she is no longer in control of all the facts, which makes things a lot more cinematic. At its bare bones, the adaptation process was taking the story out of Rose’s head and putting it on-screen.” (p.45)

Zoe Deutch commented: “Initially I was struck by how funny the script was. In my opinion, you don’t read a lot of young-adult adaptations that actually capture the hilarity of being a teenager. Also, as a woman, I deeply appreciated the fact that this is a story that puts friendship before romance.” (p.55) “I connected with Rose’s humor as a means of survival, her hotheadedness and passion, and her fiercely loyal nature toward those she loves. …Rose Hathaway’s sense of humor is as brutal as her fighting skills. …I connected with her being passionate and not holding back her feelings. Rose’s motivation throughout the story is rooted in protecting Lissa, but progressively she gains more desire to be the best protector she can be, and therefore has more confidence in her ability. Of course, there are many other motivations strewn throughout, including her big fat crush on Dimitri, her want for her mother’s approval, and her love of knowing everything that’s going on around her. My favorite thing about how Richelle Mead wrote the characters of Vampire Academy is that they’re all playing against type.” (p.54)

Talking about Zoey Deutsch as Rose, Mark Waters states: “I think that a lot of people like how in control she is. And even in regard to sex, it’s not callous or something she necessarily treats lightly. I think that’s what’s key. It’s not someone who gets used or isn’t thoughtful about her sexuality. She very much is and I think that’s the important part of being strong about it, being decisive and knowing what you will do and what you won’t do. And I think that was the most important piece to care about with that.” (p.56)

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

the Vampire Academy film

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A note on the Vampire Academy film posted earlier this month on http://www.shadowkissed.net/

Interesting! :

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

http://www.shadowkissed.net/2013/04/04/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

Producers.””

Vampire Academy

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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 Academy.org; v-academyVampire-Academy.com; 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)