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Summer Blog Blast Tour: Rachel Caine

May 22, 2009

carpe corpusRachel Caine is a prolific author best known for her Weather Warden and Morganville Vampires series. The Morganville Vampires, now a New York Times bestselling children’s series, began with Glass Houses, published in 2006. Carpe Corpus, the sixth Morganville book, will be published in less than two weeks and I cannot wait to read it. This is my favorite of the new YA vampire series, so I am very excited to present this interview with Rachel.

I’ll start with my burning question (seriously, I’ve been curious about this since I read Glass Houses a couple of years ago). It’s common for YA books, especially YA vampire books, to be written in first person and adult books to be written in third, but you do the opposite. The (adult) Weather Warden series is told in first person and the (YA) Morganville Vampires series in third. Why did you decide to write the Morganville books in third?
I think that it actually came about because I didn’t want to confuse the two books in my own mind, and since I’d already used first person for the Weather Warden series, I decided that third would be better for the Morganville series. Also, it gave me a little bit of distance from Claire, although I write quite a close third person viewpoint. I wanted to know what she was thinking and feeling, but not quite be in her head 24/7.

How did the Morganville series come about? Do you plan on writing YA books outside of the Morganville Vampires?
I was actually asked by the publisher to see if I could come up with a concept for a vampire series (this actually was probably just after or right before Twilight came out). I was initially very reluctant, because I didn’t want to do something that others had already covered, and covered very well … I wanted to have something new — or at least interesting— to say about vampires. So I came up with the concept of Morganville as a town first, and the environment shaped the characters quite a bit.

I have a couple of ideas for other YA books, but as you know, I’m fully burdened right now with projects, so it may be a few more years before I’m able to find the time!

In your interview with Steph (aka Reviewer X) last year, you said you plan to wrap up the Claire/Shane/Eve/Michael storyline in Carpe Corpus. Can you give us a hint (or more than a hint, because that would be nice 🙂 ) about what can we expect in Fade Out (coming in November) and the books that will follow?
fadeout Oooh, tough one! Well, we will (mostly) resolve the political struggles of Morganville in CARPE CORPUS, at least as they concern Amelie and Mr. Bishop. FADE OUT will be a stand-alone book, as will the others that follow, although they are still episodic to some extent. You get to meet some characters in FADE OUT that you haven’t seen before, notably Kim, who is threatening to become Eve’s new BFF; you’ll also see some sides of Morganville you haven’t seen previously, including how vulnerable the town can be. Myrnin and Claire’s friendship will be severely tested. Eve and Michael are trying to come to terms with what “dating a vampire” really means. And you’ll meet a character named Ada in CARPE CORPUS who has a prominent role in FADE OUT as well.

I know music is important to your writing process. How much time do you spend creating playlists, and do the playlists affect the story? I guess the question is partly, do you know ahead of time how the story will turn out? Does the music provide atmosphere or inspiration? Or both?
I spend way too much time creating playlists; I suspect it’s my brain’s effort to keep me busy while my subconscious thinks about what it wants to say. The playlists don’t really shape the story, but they do reflect what’s happening in the story, quite frequently. I usually start out at the beginning of a project with a core set of songs that get me energized, and then add as I go along. I guess I’d have to say that the music is both atmosphere and inspiration … it has a marvelous focusing effect on me!

How much planning do you do since you’re now writing three (!) different series simultaneously? How do you keep track of the events that occurred in previous books, all the backstory, character arcs, etc.?
Oh dear. I wish I had a clever answer for this, but the truth is, I’m a little bit afraid of creating detailed references. I probably shouldn’t be, but there seems to me to be something limiting in spending my time amassing all of that; I’m almost afraid that by quantifying it, some of the magic will go out of the process. So when I have any doubts about something, I will electronically search prior books and find the answer (usually). This doesn’t mean I can’t screw it up … I definitely can, and have! For instance, at the end of GALE FORCE I had a flipping underway of the magnetic poles of the earth (a thing which actually does happen every few thousand years) … but the problem was that it was done in the rewrite of the book, and in my preparations I went back to the original draft instead, so I forgot all about carrying that over into the next book. Oops. I’ve also changed at least one character’s hair color over the years. However, I fixed it later by referring to her dye job. 🙂

I’m not a writer, but I have to admire how you sustain the tension throughout the Morganville books. Not just in terms of what’s going to happen next with the vampires, but also the romantic tension between Shane and Claire. What’s your secret?
I think the trick is that as a writer, I try not to consciously know what’s coming next. I have an outline, but what I do is read it in the beginning and put it aside, and very often I will stray from my planned plot into unknown territory. So the tension and suspense is just as real for me as it is the reader (maybe moreso!). I periodically check back to my outline (usually twice during the writing of the book) to be sure that I haven’t accidentally dropped something important.

Shane and Claire (Image is wallpaper, which you can download from Rachel's website.)

Shane and Claire (Image is wallpaper, which you can download from Rachel's website.)

The romantic tension between Shane and Claire is, for me, the sweetest part of the series. I think at a certain point, as a writer, you have to let go and let your characters drive, and they seem to do that pretty well when it comes to having feelings for each other.

You post fanart and fanfic on your website. Can you talk about your views on these topics and reasoning for including them as part of your website?
I personally love fan art and fanfic. Art done well is always a joy to me, regardless of its source material, and I think it is extremely flattering to have fans love what I’m doing enough to produce that kind of work to expand the universe. The only restriction I placed on what I would post is that it should always be mindful of the young adult restrictions, which so far everyone has been.

I want fans to participate in Morganville, and feel part of the experience; I can’t believe that anyone really gets more people to love their books by issuing cease and desist orders.

Having said that, there are limits. I don’t like people torrenting my books, although I understand why it’s done. I will go after people trying to sell Morganville stories, because they haven’t asked for the rights to do that, but as long as it’s strictly fanfic, I really don’t have an issue.

All a writer really has is their readers, and if the readers are enthusiastic and loyal, there’s not much benefit in discouraging them, especially in the young adult market. I want to encourage and nurture creativity.

There’s a school of thought that says that anybody who does fanfic or fan art isn’t creative; I totally disagree with that. If that’s the case, we should treat people who write adaptations for film or are on the staff of a TV show with the same disdain; they’re writing other people’s characters, too.

Yes, it’s something I feel passionate about. 🙂

Much, much thanks to Rachel, who was able to answer my questions on very short notice.

Be sure to check out the rest of today’s SBBT interviews:
Jenny Davidson at Chasing Ray
Rebecca Stead at A Fuse #8 Production

Ryan Mecum at Writing and Ruminating
Lauren Myracle at Bildungsroman
Kristin Cashore at Hip Writer Mama

3 Comments leave one →
  1. May 22, 2009 2:04 am

    It’s not every author who loves the fan-fiction, and I think it’s a mark of an incredibly secure author to post it on her own site. Kudos. The mark of the best series is that they sort of spawn their own… sense of world outside of the pages of their books. These sound – just amazing, and I’m glad I’ve heard about them.

  2. May 23, 2009 1:58 pm

    great interview!
    thank you rachel and trisha!
    had the pleasure of hearing rachel read
    at a con in san diego a couple years back.

  3. May 24, 2009 4:43 pm

    I loved the question about planning and keeping everything straight. As a wannabe author, it’s reassuring to hear from an author who doesn’t need to do all that stuff to be successful!

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