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February 12, 2011

Melissa de la Cruz: How She Wrote Jack Force

Posted by jordana
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mel08photocrop.jpgIn this guest blog for Teenreads.com, Melissa de la Cruz shares how she created one of her most popular --- and powerful --- characters in her Blue Bloods series: Jack Force. Her latest Blue Bloods book is BLOODY VALENTINE.

Jack Force: Beautiful and Damned

by Melissa de la Cruz

What can I say about Jack Force? Other than Blue Bloods would not exist without him. My first image of Jack was of a tall, handsome very athletic boy, walking across a crowded New York City street. Tall and tan and wearing a bright white Oxford shirt and rumpled khakis and scuffed Adidas Sambas. Lestat in sneakers. I remember when I was working at Conde Nast, I was waiting for the elevator with a fellow beauty editor and we met these two beautiful boys who were dressed this way (one was an editor at the New Yorker I think and the other was his friend). They were so charming, with their tousled blonde hair and their tans and their ski-jump noses and cut-glass cheekbones and white Oxfords unbuttoned to reveal faded blue t-shirts underneath. They carried squash racquets and they flirted with us, but playfully, engaging us in their spirited banter. I had a serious boyfriend by then, but I highly enjoyed meeting them, it was such a pleasure to be in their company. As if they knew exactly how young and beautiful they were right at that moment, and they reveled in it with such positive energy.

Like these boys, Jack Force is extraordinarily young and beautiful. But he carries a darkness in him, an anger, and he's got all that Dark Angel baggage. I think I fell in love with him from the beginning, imagining him walking across that street. I named him after John "Blackjack" Bouvier, who was Jackie Kennedy's father. I loved the idea of a rake, a playboy, and I always loved the name Benjamin, it was the name of the first boy I loved, and so I gave it to Jack. I also love the name "Jack", that old-fashioned sturdiness it has. I had written two unpublished novels with the heroes named "Jack" so I finally got my Jack in Blue Bloods.

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I also love Jack's flaws, I loved that he was Mimi's twin. You can't have Jack without Mimi.Mimi is the thorn in his side, the smear in the masterpiece. Because as wonderful as Jack is, he has a real problem, and he's not free. I love how he struggles with his bonds, with his identity--who is he? What does he want? He's an angel of the Dark yet he's drawn to the Light. I love that about him, that he wants something better for himself.

It's a lot of fun writing his character, I have a lot of sympathy for Jack and like all brooding romantic heroes, he has secrets that he's keeping to himself. I think I love Jack because he's not perfect, he's just doing the best with what he has, just like the rest of us.

--- Melissa de la Cruz