30 April 2015

Interview and Giveaway: The Isle of the Lost by Melissa de la Cruz (Disney Descendants)

Descendants: The Isle of the Lost by Melissa de la CruzEarlier this week I was thrilled to be part of a group interview with the best-selling author Melissa de la Cruz, who was talking about her current project with Disney.

That's right, I said Disney! De la Cruz's new book, The Isle of the Lost (in stores on May 5), fills in the back story of this summer's Disney Chanel original TV movie Disney Descendants. There is so much to love about this book and the upcoming movie.

Here's what's happening in The Isle of the Lost. At the end of the every fairy tale, the evil character has been defeated and the good character gets a happily every after. But what happens to the Evil Queen, Maleficent, and the others? You may think they have died, but they were really banished to the Isle of the Lost, where they live in much reduced conditions and without their magic. What do they teach their children? How to be evil and how not to make the same mistakes--because someday the exile spell will be broken and all the characters will return to Auradon (the good kingdom) to wreak havoc once again.

The interview with de la Cruz. We all had thoughtful questions for Melissa de la Cruz, who graciously took time out of her day to talk to us. Come listen in on some of the highlights of the interview.

We all wanted to know whether de la Cruz was a fan of fairy tales:

I [am] a big, big fan of fairy tales. . . . I really had an early education in myth and fairy tales, and I've always loved them.
De la Cruz mentioned that she had a treasury of fairy tales from around the world, which she read and reread many times. Of course, then we wanted to know about her favorite fairy tale and her favorite Disney movie:
My favorite fairy tale, I think because it was so scary to me as a child, was "Hansel and Gretel," you know, abandoned by your parents and kind of given over to the witch.
My favorite [movie]: I saw Cinderella when I was three years old. And it was the first Disney movie I'd ever seen. And it's always been my favorite. . . . I just think there's something really magical about that story. And I've always liked it. And, you know, the pettiness of the stepmother and the stepsisters just felt really realistic to me.
De la Cruz also told us that she's been a lifelong Disney fan and has seen all the classic movies multiple times, not only on her own but also with her young daughter.

The Isle of the Lost focuses mostly on the evil fairy tale characters and their children (the descendants). We asked de la Cruz several questions about the classic villains.
On Maleficent: Why do I think Maleficent is the most feared? I think she's probably the most powerful. I mean she did put an entire kingdom to sleep. When you look at the powers of the other villains, the evil stepmother is kind of mostly petty.
On why we like evil characters: So it's kind of like we know them really well because we know what they want. And even though what they want isn't very good or noble, having that desire is very human and [also] that ambition.
And naturally, we wanted to know which of the evil descendants she liked the best:
I really felt really close to [all of] them. And Carlos [son of Cruella De Vil]: just really his journey because he's kind of shy. And he's kind of a geeky computer nerd. I really felt for him from the beginning. But . . . as I wrote him I also discovered he has a very sly sense of humor and a lot of survival instincts. . . . I think I really did get close to him. And I really enjoyed him growing up a little but still having that sense of humor.
De la Cruz also set part of her book in the land of Auradon, where all the good characters live. I found it interesting that the children of the good characters also had issues with their parents and that life wasn't always "happily ever after," even in a world of sunshine and light.
I think that was something that I really wanted to write about . . . that no matter who your parents are it's still really hard to live up to them, whether they're big, bad villains or, you know, a noble prince. He's the Beast, you know, and Queen Belle.

I mean . . . it's not that I was more sympathetic to Ben [Beast and Belle's son], but I really understood the plight of somebody who has so much privilege . . . the world is open to him. . . . But, he has very little life choices. . . . He's just as trapped as the villains on the island. So I really wanted to paint this picture of both of these kids on the Isle of the Lost and in Auradon as being really similar and, like you said, universal.
We asked de la Cruz about some of the issues involved with writing a prequel for a story that wasn't her own. Her first issue was the audience because it was her first middle-grade fantasy. She found it a challenge to find just right voice and tone.

To make sure the book matched the film, de la Cruz visited the movie set of Descendants to watch the filming, meet the characters, and see the costumes. All of which helped her with continuity between her story and the film. She noted,
It was a little bit more of a challenge [to write this book] because you are working with a world that's already been constructed. So, whatever you make up has to fit in that world.
Finally, she talked about what it was like to work with the Disney staff, who have a deep knowledge of their universe. For example, the animals (Cinderella's mice, the Dalmations) don't speak English in the movies, so for them to be talking characters in her book, de la Cruz had to write in a translator. She said,
You know, I think I didn't realize how big the [Disney] team is. . . . It was so interesting to see so many creative people working together. And they were really excited for the book.
Thanks so much to Melissa de la Cruz for taking the time to talk to us about her book The Isle of the Lost and her creative process. And thanks to Big Honcho Media for organizing the interview and inviting me to participate.

The Giveaway

Thanks to Disney Publishing, I'm able to offer one of my readers with a U.S. mailing address a fabulous The Isle of the Lost prize pack.

Here's what one lucky winner will receive: A copy of Melissa de la Cruz's book The Isle of the Lost, a super green tank top with the book title on it, a branded water bottle, temporary The Isle of the Lost tattoos, and a GadgetGrip smartphone home button sticker. (To get a better look at the prize pack, click the image to enlarge it.)

I've read the book and can recommend it to all Disney and fairy tale fans. I just love the idea of learning about the next generation of our favorite characters.

All you have to do to be entered for a chance to win is to fill out the following form (remember: U.S. mailing addresses only). I'll pick a winner via random number generator on May 11 and then pass his or her mailing address along to the publicists. Once the winner has been confirmed, I'll erase all personal information from my computer.

  • To read an excerpt from The Isle of the Lost, visit the Disney movie site.
  • To lean more about the movie, visit the official Descendants site.
  • To learn more about Melissa de la Cruz, visit her website.
  • To follow the news across your social media sites, use and search for #DisneyDescendants.


Vicki 4/30/15, 7:25 AM  

Sounds so good! Can't wait to read the book and see the movie.Thanks for bringing them to my attention.

Daryl 4/30/15, 7:55 AM  

sounds like a fun read, tho not my cuppa .. for some reason fairy tales never appealed ... tho i did love the movie Maleficent ..

bermudaonion 4/30/15, 10:11 AM  

Oh, how fun! I bet it was a big treat to talk to her.

Vasilly 4/30/15, 9:36 PM  

This sounds like a great book for my daughter! She loves fairy tales. Thanks for hosting a contest. I just entered her.

Anonymous,  5/5/15, 12:56 PM  

Nice interview! She sounds like a fun person. I bet my middle school students will really dig this book!

Bree 5/7/15, 2:47 PM  

Yayyeee! I love when authors take the initiative or whatever to read a continuation story of something else. I always wonder what happens to characters after the book, movie, tv series, etc ends.

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