Melissa de la Cruz is the author of the book High school Musical: The Musical: The Series: THE ROAD TRIP. The book sends the Wildcats on a crazy can’t-miss opportunity—a High School Musical convention in the next state. All the characters that are loved from the series are explored in this book, and in a different environment! Melissa lives in Los Angeles, California, with her husband and daughter. YEM was able to speak with Melissa about her inspirations for the book, her writing process, and some challenges she overcame while writing the book.
Young Entertainment Mag: What inspired you to write High School Musical: The Musical: The Series: THE ROAD TRIP?
Melissa de la Cruz: I loved the revival of the High School Musical franchise. I thought it was so witty and well-done and so modern. So when they asked me if I wanted to be involved, of course I said yes! I knew it would be a fun gig.
YEM: Did you watch Season 1 of the Disney+ series, what did you think of the series as a whole, do you have a favorite scene? Are there any scenes where you’re like “I wish I wrote that?”?
Melissa: I did watch it. My daughter was 12 when it came out and I once again was the “cool mom.” She was in 2nd grade when I did Descendants. While I also write screenplays my first love is books, so I was excited to contribute to the story in my ideal platform. Of course, I wish books could sing though? Ha!
YEM: Which character was your favorite to write and why? And which character do you most relate to?
Melissa: I think EJ is really fun to write, but I think because of my age I relate the most to Miss Jenn. I definitely am a slightly kooky, given to grandeur older lady now lol.
YEM: Did you work with Tim Federle on this? If yes what was that experience like? Did you read his book Better Nate Than Ever (Isn’t it amazing?!) ?
Melissa: Yes! Tim was amazing to work with—I am very lucky as he let me have as much fun with the characters and story as I wanted. There were no restrictions. He was a great cheerleader and very inspiring. Oh yes, I have read Tim’s books and love them!
YEM: Is there a message within the book that you would like your readers to leave with after reading the book?
Melissa: I think it’s so important for kids to believe in themselves, in their talents and dreams. And also to rely on the power of friendship and loyalty and working as a group. That’s what I’ve always loved about the High School Musical property.
YEM: What was your writing process like when writing this book?
Melissa: I wrote an outline and then wrote the chapters. The Instagram vignettes came naturally as a way to move the story forward in a dynamic way that would be fun to write.
YEM: What is something that you learned about yourself through writing High School Musical: The Musical: The Series: THE ROAD TRIP?
Melissa: That I am a huge Troy/Gabrielle fan as well! My daughter watched the original series when she was much younger, and we had a great time revisiting that for the book. So it was fun to see Nini and Ricky bring that dynamic back!
YEM: What was the first Young Adult book that inspired you to become a writer? And if you could have written any book, which book do you wish you could have written?
Melissa: For me, growing up in the 1980s, The Lord of the Rings was the YA book that inspired me. I loved the story of friendship and loyalty and risking it all to save the world.
YEM: What’s a good starting point for someone who wants to become a writer?
Melissa: Keep reading! Writers are readers.
YEM: What was one challenge you had while writing this book and how did you overcome it?
Melissa: I think trying to tell a great story while also bridging the two seasons is always the challenge of these types of books. It was the same challenge I had in writing the Descendants books. But I always love letting readers into the interior life of characters they’ve grown to love. That’s why we read books – to get into their heads. You can’t do that with a TV show.
YEM: If you could tell your younger writing self anything, what would it be?
Melissa: It’s all going to be amazing. Just wait and see.