Smith, Lisa Jane

Smith, Lisa Jane

(pop culture)

Lisa Jane (L. J.) Smith is an author of books for children and young adults. She graduated from the University of California, Santa Barbara with a degree in experimental psychology and later received teaching credentials from San Francisco State University in elementary education and special education. She abandoned school teaching, however, to write fiction, and in 1987 saw her first book, The Night of the Solstice, published. She subsequently became the very successful author of the “Vampire Diaries” series, four volumes of which appeared in 1991.

The first volume of The Vampire Diaries, The Awakening, introduces Elena Gilbert, a popular and intelligent high schooler in Mystic Fall, a small town in Virginia. She is in grief from the recent loss of her father but finds an outlet in a new boy at school, Stefan Salvatore. The mysterious Salvatore turns out to be a youthful looking vampire, who was only seventeen when turned. Stefan had been a vampire since the Italian Renaissance. He has a slightly older brother, Damon, also a vampire, with whom he has a love-hate relationship. Stefan, a good guy vampire, has found a way to survive without taking human blood, while Damon is the bad boy vampire who acts out the role of an amoral predator. The brothers were transformed into vampires by a mutual love, Katherine, a young vampire now deceased. Elena’s relationship with the two vampires begins over her resemblance to Katehrine and eventually leads to her death at the end of volume two of Smith’s books. She awakens as a vampire herself at the beginning of volume three.

Smith’s vampires generally follow the traditional myth of the literary vampire. People become vampires by drinking a vampire’s blood, and which they must regularly ingest blood to survive. They burn in sunlight, but wear a ring that allows them to walk about in daylight. They are very quick in moving about. They can be killed by a stake to the heart. They show a reflection in a mirror, are not affected by garlic or sacred symbols. They are able to control people’s memories so that victims do not remember an attack.

In 2009, in the wake of the success of Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Stephenie Meyer‘s Twililght Series, the WB Channel brought The Vampire Diaries to television as a primetime series. Nina Dobrev portrayed Elena Gilbert, with Paul Wesley and Ian Somerhalder as the brothers Stefan and Damon Salvatore respectively.

Several years after the original Vampire Diaries were published, Smith returned to the vampire theme in a new series, “Dark Visions” (1994–1995), in which Kaitlyn, an artist with some precognitive abilities, develops a telepathic link with a brooding loner named Gabriel. Gabriel turns out to be a psychic vampire who drains the life-force of those around him to survive. Kaitlyn must choose between the dark one Gabriel, or the good option, a healer named Rob.

Smith finished out the 1990s with a nine-volume series, “Night World”, in which she created a fantasy universe in which the normal world of her main characters is enlivened by the presence of vampires, witches, and shapeshifters. The characters of the Night World have two basic rules—do not tell the humans that they exist and do not fall in love with a human. Not all of the nine novels focus on vampires, but vampires are present in each and integral to the plot in several—such as the first one, appropriately named Vampire Secret. James a vampire, has fallen for a classmate Poppy, who has contracted a fatal illness. Having broken a basic rule of falling for a human, he must now decide whether or not to make her a vampire.

In the wake of the new success of the Vampire Diaries, Smith has projected three new volumes in a new series called “The Vampire Diaries: The Return,” the first of which, Nightfall, appeared in 2009. In it she chose to pick up the story line shortly after the end of volume 4. Smith maintains a webpage at


“An Interview with Novelist L. J. Smith.” Forbidden Tales. 1996. Posted at Accessed Octiber 15, 2009.

“Vampire Diaries” Series by Lisa Jane Smith

The Awakening. New York: HarperCollins, 1991. 311 pp.

The Struggle. New York: HarperCollins, 1991. 313 pp.

The Fury. New York: HarperCollins, 1991. 309 pp.

Dark Reunion. New York: HarperCollins, 1992. 311 pp.

Nightfall. New York: HarperTeen, 2009. 592 pp.

Shadow Souls. New York: HarperTeen, 2010. 512 pp.

“Dark Visions” Series by Lisa Jane Smith

The Passion. New York: Archway/Pocket Books, 1994. 211 pp.

The Possessed. New York: Archway/Pocket Books, 1995. 212 pp.

The Strange Power. New York: Archway/Pocket Books, 1995. 230 pp.

Dark Visions: Collectors Edition. New York: Archway/Pocket Books, 1998. 653 pp.

“Night World” Series by Lisa Jane Smith

Huntress. New York: Archway/Pocket Books, 1996. 226 pp.

Secret Vampire. New York: Archway/Pocket Books, 1996. 228 pp.

Black Dawn. New York: Archway/Pocket Books, 1997. 227 pp.

Witchlight. New York: Archway/Pocket Books, 1998. 227 pp.

Soil see: Native Soil

The Vampire Book, Second Edition © 2011 Visible Ink Press®. All rights reserved.