I was feeling frustrated back toward the end of 2012, because I really wanted to write a novel, but after the explosion of the 50 Shades series, it seemed like every publishing house, agent, and packaging company I talked to really wanted to capitalize on the popularity of that genre, and those just weren’t the stories I was personally excited about telling. (My general response when they talked about their dream projects was, “But my dad is going to read this.”) Finally, I reached out to Rebecca Serle, a YA author who I’d connected with on Twitter because she was a Vampire Diaries fan and I was, at the time, a TV critic. (She has since become one of my closest friends.) She recommended that I get in touch with Paper Lantern Lit. I submitted a sample from a YA novel I’d been working on – not Eternal Night, but a realistic contemporary story – and we immediately started talking ideas. Eternal Night grew from there. It’s been quite a ride and it definitely wasn’t easy, but it was fun.
What do you love about being an author?
Author is a big word. I do not think I’ll ever get used to people calling me that. The best part of being a writer is, honestly, when the writing is done, and you have a finished product that you can put in someone else’s hands. (My favorite part is when the project stops being my problem.) Writing is not fun for me, but being a writer is fun for me. I realize that doesn’t make a ton of sense, but basically, I spend all my time thinking I’m a really good writer, except when I’m actually trying to put pen to paper, and then I think I’m a disaster. Then, when I’m done with a project and I can put it away for a couple days and come back to it fresher, I think I’m a really good writer again.
If you could have dinner with any literary character, who would it be and what would you eat?
This is probably the most cliché response ever, but: Hermione Granger. I would eat literally anything she wanted to eat just to get a chance to hang out with her. I would eat Bertie Botts Every Flavour Beans, even the barf-flavored ones, just to sit around and talk to her about being the most badass wizard ever.
This question has come up a couple of times throughout promoting the book, and I’ve decided not to answer it. There are a few reasons for this. Firstly, A lot of my friends are actors, so mostly I would cast them. Even if they weren’t great for the part, I’d cast them anyway, just to trap them all in one place and force them not to travel away from me for a couple months. This is why I will never be in charge of casting anything. Second, I don’t want to take away from any reader’s imagination because I’ve already told them that one of the characters looks like some CW actor I happen to think is cute. The upside of reading a book before there’s a movie is that you get to fill in all the blanks with your brain. And finally – this is the most important. The first time I was asked this question, I tried to put together a list, but I couldn’t, and here’s why: In my mind, Peitha is a Mediterranean beauty. She has olive skin and dark features. She is not thin. And I couldn’t think of an age-appropriate actress who fit this description, which makes me sad. I can think of diverse actors who could play other characters– Nadia, and Dean, and Kris, and a handful of others – but not one for Peitha. So I just scrapped the whole list. Diversity is important to me, and I don’t want to neglect it for the sake of casting a movie that doesn’t even exist.
Vampires – do you prefer them as sexy leads or blood hungry monsters?
Ha! I appreciate the opportunity for this shameless plug. I prefer vampires to be sexy leading blood-hungry monsters. The second season of “The Originals” airs Mondays, starting October 6, at 8 p.m. on The CW. I’m so proud of our vamps – played to perfection by Joseph Morgan, Daniel Gillies, Phoebe Tonkin, and Charles Michael Davis – because they are powerful and vulnerable and romantic and horrible. Writing for this show is my literal dream job. I spend every day scared that they’re going to realize a fan infiltrated their inner circle, and then they’re going to fire me.
If you had a time machine, which era would you go back to and why?
I would go back to the early 90s and I would go for one more early morning run with my grandfather (who I call Pom Pom) because he can’t run anymore, and I didn’t appreciate it enough when he could.
What life advice do you wish you’d been given sooner?
Not to feel ashamed of what you love. Uh, unless it’s illegal. If something makes you happy, get excited about it. There should be no such thing as a guilty pleasure. If we all talked a little more about the things we loved and a little less about the things we don’t, the world would be much better.
If you were a supernatural creature, what would you be and why?
I would be something that could magically become invisible, so that I could spy on people all the time. I like knowing secrets.
Where do you write best?
For the last year or so, in The Originals writers’ office. I’d go in on weekends to work on Eternal Night when no one was there (except, usually, my friend Matt). I like having a designated place for work. I’m easily distracted, so routines help me focus. Really, I can write anywhere that has coffee, as long as it’s tidy. I can not write in messy places.
What was the last book you read, and what were your thoughts on it?
Technically, I finished Paper Towns by John Green this morning, but it was about the zillionth time I’ve read it. I’ve been keeping it in my car so if I’m ever waiting or eating lunch by myself or getting my hair done or whatever, I can grab it. It’s an all-time favorite… Manic Pixie Dream Girl and all. Before that, I read Open Road Summer by Emery Lord. It was a very, very quick read, and it was basically Taylor Swift fan fiction. (I don’t mean that as an insult, for the record. I’m pro-Taylor Swift and pro-fan fiction if that’s what gets your motor running… remember, don’t be ashamed of what you love.) It was fun and cute, and a little unrealistic, but it was a perfectly charming way to spend a summer Sunday morning.
If you didn’t write in your genre, which other would you prefer and why?
I’ve sort of built a whole career around the supernatural genre, with Eternal Night and the TV world I’ve lived in since I started, and it’s really fun to find ways to tell honest, human stories about superhuman characters. But I hope I get to explore more realistic fiction down the road. Most of my favorite books and shows are all just about normal people surviving normal life.
Where can fans find you online?
Mostly on Twitter – all day, everyday – I’m @cadlymack. My Tumblr is occasionally updated with general fangirling (I mostly use it to read what other people are saying about The Originals… okay, and Arrow, too.) – that’s http://cadlymack.tumblr.com/ . I’m @cadlymack on Instagram. My public Facebook is https://www.facebook.com/carinaadlymackenzie. My blog is at http://www.carinamackenzie.com and I’m trying to get better about updating it.