The Au Pairs. Blue Bloods. Alex & Eliza. The Descendants. The Witches of East End. For over twenty years, Melissa de la Cruz has been at the helm of some of the most beloved and favorite YA series. Her work has transcended mediums, inspiring TV series and movies. And now, with DC Comics and fantastic artistry from Thomas Pitilli, she’s turned her pen toward a graphic novel inspired by the high school years of iconic superheroes and villains: Batman, Catwoman and The Joker, adding her own fantastic spin to these well-known characters.
Gotham High is available now. Before you order a copy from your local library or bookstore, read on to find out more of her process and who among her previous characters reminds her most of Bruce, Selina and Jack.
TYF: Was your process while writing a graphic novel different from your process for writing prose novels?
Melissa de la Cruz: Yes, it’s a different kind of craft – more like screenwriting than writing a novel.
TYF: What excited you most about this project?
Melissa de la Cruz: To be able to reinvent an iconic American superhero like Batman – that is such a thrill and I’m very proud to be part of the DC universe.
TYF: What was it like writing such established characters–especially as teenagers?
Melissa de la Cruz: It came pretty naturally, I have been a YA writer for over 20 years, it was easy to imagine the origins of characters I’ve known forever. For instance, everyone knows Bruce Wayne is a billionaire and that his parents were killed in front of him and that Alfred his butler was his mentor – so how can I keep to the template but tell a different story? It’s like a puzzle. It was fun to figure it out.
TYF: What was it like working with Thomas Pitilli on the artwork–was it collaborative or independent?
Melissa de la Cruz: Collaborative in that I would send Thomas images for certain things that I really cared about what they looked like – the character looks we nailed pretty early – Jack was the hardest – then I would send images of what I wanted Selina to be wearing, K-Pop stars for Ivy, then pictures of the Harvard Club in NYC for Bruce’s study, and pictures of Chinatown… then everything else Thomas took the lead on – it was great! I loved everything!
TYF: Who, if any of your characters, are as similar to teen Bruce, Selina and Jack?
Melissa de la Cruz: From my novels? Hmmm. I feel like all my characters are pretty distinct. But here goes. Selina might be a little bit like Mimi Force from Blue Bloods. Jack maybe a little bit like Wes from Heart of Dread Series. Bruce – I’m not sure I’ve written a guy who’s that alienated but maybe Cal from the Queen’s Assassin keeps to himself as well. :)
TYF: This book is being compared to Riverdale and Gossip Girl but set in the DC Universe. Are you a fan of these shows and how did they influence you while writing Gotham High?
Melissa de la Cruz: I’m a huge Gossip Girl fan – but I’ve been writing Gossip Girl stuff before Gossip Girl – so I would say Gossip Girl was influenced by me. ;) My kid was a big fan of Riverdale, but I’m more of a Beverly Hills 90210 fan girl. :)
TYF: Are you hoping to work on more Gotham High in the future?
Melissa de la Cruz: Absolutely! :)