Friday, August 21, 2009

Star Light, Star Bright...Interstellar Interview with Rachel Caine


With a rap sheet of characters as long as my arm, it's no wonder she has a listing of awards long enough to match. As a NY Times and USA Today bestselling author, Rachel has come up-close and personal with several "paranormal" types. It's no doubt that her fans know she pens the Weather Warden, Morganville Vampires and the Outcast Season series, but did you know she's got a whole plethora to boot?

As Julie Fortune she published SACRIFICE MOON, an official Stargate SG-1 novel. Rachel has also contributed to a number of short story and novella compilations that have been edited by such notables as P.N. Elrod, Charlaine Harris, Toni L.P. Kelner and P.C. Cast.

So what gave her the diversity to pen so many characters? Her former jobs as a musician, insurance investigator, web designer and an accountant (after earning her degree at Texas Tech). And what keeps her chugging along to write book after book? A writer's favorite go-to--chocolate--and to celebrate (her favorite beer) Guinness.
If you can't get enough of Rachel's multi-media smorgasbord on her beautiful website (which I believe might be influenced by her fantasy artist husband), then check her out at LiveJournal, MySpace, Facebook or Twitter.

I've never met Rachel Caine in person, but after pouring over her website, I think I'm already turning into a fan-girl. Of course, I'd seen her books on the shelf, but never really studied one. When I picked up a copy of RT Magazine and saw that her latest Weather Warden book (#8) was about "to drop", I knew I had to get her to come visit.

It didn't hurt that a past Interstellar Interviewee had "squeed" over her books at my local RWA Chapter meeting. And even though it isn't a rare occurance for authors to get excited about books, it is impressive that when Rachel's name was mentioned half the room filled with banter and praise. Now that's notable...especially when that episode happened last year!

Though I don't try to forecast the weather (much less change it) I do foresee some Rachel Caine novels on my TBR pile in my near future. If not for the drama and passion, but for the secret to how she can dabble in so many series and still knock people for a loop with her fiction. Bravo Rachel...keep those stellar stories coming on down!


What plot points led you to write? Were the weather wardens, vampires and djinn among the characters at you
r beck and call, what inspired you to settle into the paranormal realm of fiction?

I think that (back in the dim mists of pre-history) when I first started writing, it was more about imagining a particular scene I desperately wanted to see. I still get sparked from that, usually--a particular scene or image that really pushes me to develop an idea around it. For Joanne and the Weather Warden series, it was the idea of the storm overhead actually watching her, hunting her. (If you've ever seen the movie BACKDRAFT, I don't think anyone has ever captured the essence of fire as a character the way they did, and there's a moment when you would swear the fire is a living thing, staring back at the characters--no CGI, either. That probably was part of it as well.)

As far as the vampires, I've always had a fascination for them--my favorite stories were vampire stories, so it was natural for me to like to write about them.

As far as paranormal goes--when I first got started writing, what I was doing was classified as "horror" because vampires only went in that section of the store. Later, when I got away from vampires but still had paranormal elements, nobody knew where to put me on the shelves...it wasn't until the whole "paranormal/urban fantasy" sub-genre was born that I had a real home. But I've always had the paranormal in my stories, in some form. (Copper Moon, for example, was marketed as pure romantic suspense, but I have reincarnation of both the main character *and* a dog!)

No wonder they didn't know what to do with me.



When did you coin the phrase Weather Warden, and how did you brainstorm the crux of the series?

Hmmmm, good question! I think the phrase came pretty naturally, but to be honest I don't remember the exact chain of events that put it together. I think I rejected a couple of others, like "Weather Witch," just because I wanted it to be more...institutional. :)

I knew from the start that there were three elements in the first book-
-Joanne's (magical) illness, her quest for Lewis, and the weather coming after her. I more or less triangulated the plot around those points.



Are your free reads works you’d intended to flesh out, or did they settle that tug of war inside you to finish up subplots that you wished you could’ve expanded? What did you think the first time someone took your musing and mixed their own thoughts in for some cool fanfic?


My free reads were ideas that probably weren't quite big enough to make into novels, or were odd bits that didn't fit in anywhere. There are a few exceptions--"Black Corner," a Weather Warden story, actually ended up as a concept in CAPE STORM, although the specifics of the story did not. Sometimes they're things that I would like to expand, but more often they're just fun to do.

As far as the fanfic goes, I have been tremendously impressed with the enthusiasm and direction the fanfic has taken. Was there a little nervousness? Sure! I got a little worried every time I open up one of the files and start to read. It's a bit terrifying to a writer to be out of control of her own story, but at the same time, I actually think that's a good thing.



Where did the coolest fan moment occur that made all your hours slaving away and traveling for signings worth it?

Oh, my goodness, so many to choose from. And honestly, I don't think of the writing as work--it's hugely enjoyable to me when I get to just drop into the story and go away. Signings are so fun for me, too--I love meeting people and talking to them, and the travel is always interesting (and informative).

But as far as best moments go, I'd have to say that it was an email from a young lady of about 20, who said that she had never in her life read an entire book. She hated to read. She'd faked her way through school, and fooled her parents by checking out library books and putting bookmarks in them but never opening them. She continued this habit after school, and one day she checked out my first Morganville book, GLASS HOUSES. She opened it up to read the first page, and read the entire book, and immediately wanted to read something else.

She told me that my book opened up a whole new world for her. You just can't get a better moment than that.



Who is your go-to author to get you out of a writing slump? Or do you have a favorite movie or album that always helps get you back on track with your WIP?

Ooooh, my go-to author is always Roger Zelazny. I try to read his Amber series once every couple of years; I just love his style and his characters.

As far as movies, I've got a ton of 'em, but none of them really spark my writing directly when I'm stuck (rather, they help me AVOID it!). But music is definitely an asset. I build custom playlists for each book, and when I get stuck, I go out on a mission to find new music to carry me through.



Videos, wallpapers, and a kicking website, oh my! How have your past jobs helped you in your writing career?

Thank you! :) I'm glad you like all the goodies...as you might be able to tell, I'm a bit of a graphics/web/video junkie. I worked in graphic design and layout for many years, and I still do a lot of that kind of work in my current day job (as Director of Corporate Communications). That job has also been invaluable in teaching me about PR and time management, because it's very intense.

I started out an accountant. VERY helpful for doing your own bookkeeping and taxes!



What did you come away with from Nationals in DC, and do you have any vital dates to shout out to fans about?

I am ashamed to say that I didn't attend Nationals. Alas, I am not (yet) an RWA member--not because I'm not interested, but because I can barely keep up with my schedule as it stands. I will join one of these days, though.

Vital dates, hmmm. Well, there are new Morganville Vampires audiobooks coming out about every month through the end of the year, so look for those...CAPE STORM, the 8th Weather Warden book, was just released in August...ETERNAL KISS, an anthology I'm in, came out the last week of July...and coming up in November will be the 7th Morganville book, FADE OUT. I'm also going to be Writer Guest of Honor at RavenCon in Baltimore in 2010, and also at ArmadilloCon in Austin later in the year.

For those of you in the Des Moines area, I'll be doing a bunch of library visits September 10-13, so check my website for dates and locations in the Calendar area!





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