Leann Reads Books: What was your inspiration for the world of Never After?
Melissa De La Cruz: A little bit of Lord of the Rings, a little bit of Los Angeles. There are some fun LA jokes in the book, like Jack lives in Vineland which is north of Lankershim, which only people who live in Los Angeles would get. It’s an homage to Piers Anthony’s books where the fantasyland looks a lot like Florida.
LRB: How did you decide which fairy tale characters to include?
Cruz: They just kind of come naturally. I love the story of Schehazerade, and also Ali Baba, so I had to have them. Jack and the Beanstalk, because I love the name Jack. I try to use fairyale characters everyone has heard of so they get the reference.
LRB: Who is Alistair modeled after?
Cruz: Alistair is sort of inspired by a friend of mine in college who was hilarious.
LRB: What made you want to write a fairy tale retelling?
Cruz: I love fairy tales and I love twisting and retelling them to see how far I can change the story while still remaining true to the spirit of it.
LRB: Do you have any writing quirks? Or any superstitions while you’re working on a book?
Cruz: Not really. I can work anywhere. Hospital rooms. Train stations. Your dining table.
LRB: What authors or books do you draw inspiration from?
Cruz: Stephen King was my favorite author as a teen, and just they way he is so kind to his readers, and his worldview in general is so generous, I am very inspired by him.