BOOKS & AUTHORS : Smith’s ‘Vampire Diaries’: 3 Novels Right Off the Bat


Lisa Smith, author of a series of fantasy novels featuring four Villa Park children who battle evil supernatural forces, recently completed a fantasy of a different sort: a trilogy of romantic vampire novels aimed at the young adult market.

Smith, who divides her time between Concord, Calif., and her parents’ home in Villa Park, signed with HarperPaperbacks last fall to write the trilogy about two vampires who were born in Renaissance Italy and who are now living in a small Virginia town where they are posing as high school students.

“The Awakening,” Volume I in “The Vampire Diaries” (HarperPaperbacks; $3.99), has just been released.


Billed as a “romantic thriller,” “The Awakening” tells the story of how the trilogy’s heroine, Elena Gilbert, meets Stefan, a mysterious boy who has just moved to town. She immediately falls in love with him, not realizing he is a vampire. “At first he resists her because he has such a terrible history and so much guilt,” says Smith, “but eventually he succumbs.”

Yes, folks, yet another vampire novel. Smith’s book follows two other vampire novels published this year by Orange County authors: “The Vampire Memoirs” by Traci Briery of Newport Beach and “Obsession” by Lori Herter of Santa Ana.

“They’re very popular,” said Smith, 32. “It’s obviously something of a new genre--a strange genre.”

Smith, who writes under her initials, L.J. Smith, began writing the first installment of the trilogy last October. By writing more than 12 hours a day, she finished the third volume in May. “It was certainly the fastest writing job I’ve ever done, but I did little else but write,” she said.

Smith’s writing schedule left her with no time for research. But her mother, Kathy Smith, did the research on Italy, and relatives in Virginia helped out on that end. “They sent me photographs of old houses--in fact, floor plans of old houses--and all sorts of things,” said Smith.

With the first volume out less than a week, Smith has already received her first fan letter. It’s from a young woman who said she can’t wait until the next volume comes out.


She won’t have long to wait.

Volume II of “The Vampire Diaries,” “The Struggle,” will hit bookstores in mid-September, followed by the third volume, “The Fury,” in mid-October.

Smith said the first two installments of the trilogy end with cliffhangers. “I sort of treated it as one long book and I think that’s what they (HarperPaperbacks) had in mind,” she said. “You wouldn’t want to wait a year for the second.”

Although her publisher is promoting the “The Vampire Diaries” with ads in Seventeen and Sassy magazines, Smith won’t be doing much publicity for the books. She’s already at work on a new trilogy for HarperPaperbacks. This one is about the descendants of Salem’s infamous witches: a group of contemporary teen-agers with magical powers who are, according to the author, “acting up.”

“Thank heavens on this one I’m going to have more time for research,” said Smith, who leaves in mid-September for a research trip to Salem.

If you’ve ever wondered how you can join the Laurel and Hardy fan club, find a rare Spike Jones record or track down an episode of the old “Captain Midnight” radio show, Randy Skretvedt and Jordan R. Young have the book for you.

It’s called “The Nostalgia Entertainment Sourcebook” (Moonstone Press; $9.95 for the trade paperback and $19.95 for a limited-edition hardcover).

Described as “the complete resource guide to classic movies, vintage music, old time radio and theater,” the 158-page directory includes more than 1,100 sources for entertainment in old and new formats.

Among the categories listed are old movies on 16 millimeter, videotape and laser disc; traditional jazz and big band records on 78s, LPs and DCs; classic radio shows on cassette and reel-to-reel tape; original movie posters and animation art; fan clubs, film festivals and conventions; nostalgia radio stations, and preservation organizations.

The two Orange County authors are the editors of “Past Times: The Nostalgia Entertainment Newsletter,” which features articles and reviews about ‘20s-’40s vintage movies, music and radio programs.

The book is available in bookstores or direct from Moonstone Press. For information, call (800) 677-1927.

MacDonald Harris of Newport Beach, whose latest novel, “Glad Rags,” has generated glowing reviews, has just returned from a four-month stay in southern France with his wife, Ann.

“I got quite a bit of work done,” reports Harris, the nom de plume of Donald Heiney, who retired last spring after 25 years at UC Irvine, where he helped build the graduate writing program in fiction to its current level of national prestige.

Harris, who is under contract to Simon & Schuster, has a first-of-the-year delivery date for his new novel, “The Governess.”

Explains the author: “What I’m writing is a variation, in modern dress, of a classic English novel theme,” in which a young governess is brought into the house where there is a young master and children.

Harris said he has transported the story to the present and set it in a coastal Orange County community. Don’t ask which one, though.

“I’d rather not say which coastal town I had in mind,” he said. “I don’t do like Joseph Wambaugh or Jeff Parker and actually try to get mileage out of real places. I prefer to write a more imaginative novel than if I had to stick to real street names, restaurants and bars and so forth.”