Melissa de la Cruz's Alex & Eliza: Hamilton-inspired YA novel retells a love story
You know the prolific YA novelist Melissa de la Cruz from her books on Disney’s Descendants, her Blue Bloods series, and her Witches of East End novels (among so many others). Now, de la Cruz is taking on the story of a couple beloved by history buffs and Broadway fans: Alexander Hamilton and Eliza Schuyler Hamilton.
Now, EW is excited to reveal Alex and Eliza’s beautiful cover, below — and beneath that, de la Cruz explains how seeing Hamilton inspired her to write the book… and made her bawl her eyes out.
Alex and Eliza hits shelves April 11, 2017.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: You were inspired to write Alex and Eliza after seeing Hamilton. What in particular about their love story inspired you?
MELISSA DE LA CRUZ: I am a sucker for the popular girl-poor boy love story trope, from Reality Bites to Moulin Rogue. And I had always had a soft spot for Elizabeth Schuyler, whom I used in my Blue Bloods vampire books as well: my heroine Schuyler Van Alen is named after her. After we saw Hamilton, my 10-year-old daughter was obsessed with Eliza, and it was her keen interest in Alex and Eliza’s story that led me to thinking that there was something more I wanted to discover more about the subject. I was originally just doing the research to answer my daughter’s questions, but I got caught up in it as well. I loved the story of the poverty-stricken colonel and his beautiful bride from the most prestigious family in the Colonies. I just swooned to their love story.
You are Filipino-American — what was the experience of seeing American history depicted by people of color like for you?
After we saw Hamilton, I sobbed for a good 10 minutes. I had never realized how much of an outsider I had felt to American history until we (brown people) were suddenly thrust in the center of it. It was such a profound moment for me, and I am tearing up just thinking of it. Hamilton made this bold statement that you—yes you, Puerto Rican, African American, Asian-are part of the founding father’s story too. The story of America is also our story. I had never felt entitled to that before. I had never felt so embraced by American history. It was shocking how deeply I craved it, how I didn’t even know how much I needed to feel that way. I’m in awe of what Lin-Manuel Miranda has done, not just as a work of art, but as a work of citizenship for all of us immigrants and people of color to be part of the greatest story of the founding of our country.
What years does your book cover?
It is set when Alexander Hamilton is about 19 years old and Elizabeth Schuyler is 17, around 1777, until their marriage in 1780.
What kind of research did you do to write it?
I read a lot of history books on the women of the American revolution, I wanted to bring that domestic moment to life in the book. I thought of my book as very much a Jane Austen retelling of Alex and Eliza’s story.
What was the most surprising thing you found in your research?
Not sure if it’s surprising as I think it’s well known that Eliza wore a locket with a piece of a poem that Alex wrote for her in the early days of their courtship. She wore it until she died. She was so in love with him, such a romantic. And so was he, I love the story of how he forgot the password to the fort after a night visiting Eliza. He was a man in love, totally smitten.
Does Angelica Schuyler figure into your story?
A little. She’s not the Angelica of Hamilton though, my interpretation is that while she enjoyed her friendship with Alex, she would never have traded her cushy life to be the wife of someone so impoverished. She was very much a worldly and sophisticated older sister. I’m very much a staunch Eliza loyalist. She was just as smart as Angelica and very sensible, which is why Alex fell in love with her. Eliza to me, is Jo March, or maybe a combination of Jo and Meg. Angelica is more of an older Amy March type. She was meant for nice things and a very rich husband.
And most importantly — what is your favorite song from Hamilton?
I have so many! “My Shot,” “Helpless,” “Satisfied” and “Non-Stop.” I also love the line from “Room Where it Happens” — “If you got skin in the game, you’ve got to stay in the game, but you’re not gonna win if you don’t play in the game.” So gangster!