Best-selling author Rachel Caine answers my questions about vampires, music and Halloween memories and tells us more about her upcoming books & scary urban legends…
Hi Rachel, welcome on “Veronika Asks” for the October special! Would you please say a few words about yourself?
Thanks for having me here, Veronika! I’m very honored.
About myself: a former editor (and current bestselling author!) has described me as “the most together crazy person you’ll ever meet.” That pretty much sums me up, I think. I’ve been writing professionally since 1991, and I started writing when I was 14 years old, mostly stories for my friends. I still have a day job, and I write about a million words a year on my own books and stories. That pretty much sums me up.
How would you describe yourself (then your books) with three words?
Me: crazy, meet normal
My books: normal, meet crazy
You’re Taurus, aren’t you? It is written in the stars that they are usually patient and warmhearted, but also possessive and inflexible. Did the stars get their facts straight about you? Are you a typical Bull?
Hmmm, half right? I think I’m pretty patient (mostly) and warmhearted (mostly), but I’m really not very possessive, and I don’t think too many people would think of me as inflexible. Unless Gumby is inflexible.
Can you tell us more about your “Morganville Vampires” series? “Fade Out”, book seven in the series, will be out in November 09. Can you spill a few secrets? How many books can we expect in the series?
Secrets … Oh, we still have a few of those in Morganville, for sure! And Claire & Co. are about to trip right over one of them, in the form of Kim, Eve’s new friend. Kim’s not new to Morganville, but she is new to our little group of friends, and she brings a whole new kind of crazy to the mix. For one thing, she maybe kind of still has a crush on Shane. For another, she’s got her own plan on how to get out of Morganville — and it won’t be pretty. Currently the publisher has agreed to nine books in the series, but I’m hoping that we’ll continue on even past that. Can’t swear to it, though.
Nowadays, many authors write about vampires, werewolves, shapeshifters. Why did you pick vampires? Do you think they are now a part of Pop Culture?
I started writing vampires back in the old Anne Rice days, so I’m sort of a holdover, you know? But vampires have been part of the literary and stage scene since the late 1800s, so in a sense they’ve been around a whole lot longer than many people realize. And part of the reason is that they’re so adaptable. Vampires used to represent the unknown, death, decay — real horror. By the time Dracula was written, vampires were more about how the Victorians viewed sex and lust. By the 1970s they were starting to become more of the dark, brooding hero that’s become so popular — but vampires split off into even more of a horror vein too. By the 1980s you could find good guy AND bad guy vampires side by side on the shelves. These days, the romantic vampire is still more popular, but I kind of enjoy playing with the bad-guy vampires, too. 🙂
So to sum up … ah, yes. I think vampires are here to stay.
How do you work? Do you have some rituals or habits that help you?
I have to have music. Headphones, preferably, and I tend to put together custom playlists for each book that helps me get through the rough patches. I like to write early in the mornings, and luckily, my local Starbucks opens at 5:30, so I hit that before I go in to my office at 8:30. On weekends, I work at writing until noon, maybe longer if I’m on a tight deadline.
You’ve been a musician before you started writing books (Rachel played with legends Peter Nero and Henry Mancini, to name a few). Why did you switch to writing?
Both writing and music are really, really time consuming as part-time occupations … and I just didn’t have enough time to be good at both of them. I didn’t really want to compromise what I loved, so I decided to give up the music and go with the writing. Seemed like a bad choice at first, but I think I might have done okay with it. 🙂
Was the road to the publishing house quick and easy or long and tiring?
Er … can it be both? Because it really was. I got very lucky and published my first four books pretty easily, but then things got a little hard. I hadn’t really sold a lot of copies, so I had to rethink what I was doing and figure out a better way to do it. I went through three publishers before I started really having success, with the Weather Warden novels.
If you could give only one piece of advice to an aspiring author, what would it be?
Be patient. This isn’t a sprint, it’s a marathon; you’ll have setbacks, and lots of days it’ll seem like there’s no reason to get up in the morning. But if you’re dedicated, luck may find you!
I’ve read that you returned to a full-time job in 2008. You’re “Director of Corporate Communications for a large multinational company”. How can you cope with a full-time job and several novels a year (I count five of them for 2009!)? What is the secret?
Becoming REALLY boring. Seriously. I get up, I write, I go to work, I go home, I return email, and I rinse and repeat. Every once in a while I have to sleep in and get 8 whole hours of sleep, but normally I’m squeaking by on 6 or so, which is not a thing I recommend as a lifestyle.
The secret really is to have an understand family AND an understanding company to work for. Because it really takes both for this to work.
If you had a magic wand or if a genie granted you three wishes, what would you wish for? If you could be turned into a fantasy character, who would you be?
Funny you should ask that, since I write about genies (or Djinn) in two of my series! I think I’d wish to be aging in reverse, like Benjamin Button. Because by the time I got to my hottie years, I’d actually know what to do with them. Either that, or world peace. But probably that first thing.
If you could trade places with anybody for one day, who would that be?
That would really depend on the day! But most days, I think I’m pretty happy where I am. I like visiting other people, but I wouldn’t want to be them!
Do you celebrate Halloween and if you do, how? Do you have a best/worst memory related to Halloween you’d like to share?
Best Halloween ever was working in a big haunted house, with lots of secret passages; I got to dress up and be a ghost and scare people. I like BEING scared a whole lot less. That brings me to my worst Halloween memory, when I got taken on a horror ride at an amusement park and ended up hysterical. They had to shut down the ride to take me off. EMBARRASSING!
I’ve heard you just love movies. Can you advise us a few good Halloween flicks?
ALIEN and ALIENS still scare me. Oh, and THE RING. For good vampire films, how about BLADE and LET THE RIGHT ONE IN … I love them for entirely different reasons.
Talking about that, do you have some favourite Halloween-themed books?
Shirley Jackson’s HAUNTING OF HILL HOUSE. And Stephen King’s SALEM’S LOT.
What are you working on right now?
I’m finishing up Book 8 of the Morganville Vampires series, KISS OF DEATH! I also have a short story to do soon.
Do you want to add something, Rachel?
I get a lot of questions about whether Morganville will ever become a film or TV show; I can tell you that it’s been optioned by a producer, and we’re working on it, but it’s never a sure thing. Keep your fingers crossed!
Simply can’t do without the “Nothing-to-do-with-books-question”: you’ve found $100, how will you use your newly acquired money?
Give $15 to five different people. And have lunch.
Author & Book: Roger Zelazny’s Amber series
TV shows: Firefly
Food: Indian food
Music: Blues rock, baby. Joe Bonamassa!
Hobbies: Uh … does email count?
Place to write: Coffee shop
Quote or Motto: “No matter where you go … there you are.” Buckaroo Banzai.
“Tea or Coffee?”
Tea or Coffee? COFFEEEEEEEEEE. Preferably, mocha.
Saturday night. Disco & Restaurant or Home, Books & DVDs? Home, Books & DVDs!
Going on holidays. Beach or Mountains? Mountains!
Sleepy Little Town or Crazy Megapolis? Crazy Megapolis all the way, baby.
Pick a DVD: Comedy or Weepy Drama? Argh. Can’t things blow up? Probably weepy drama, then.
Like To Travel or Hate to Move? Love to travel!
Sport Lover or Couch Potato? Couch potato, sadly
Leader or Follower? Depends on the movement. 🙂
Shy or Easy-going? Can’t be too shy in this business!
Serious or Funny? Yes.
Thank you, Rachel!
You can learn more about Rachel Caine and her books at http://www.rachelcaine.com
Rachel’s Reading List for Halloween
Stephen King’s SALEM’S LOT
Shirley Jackson’s HAUNTING OF HILL HOUSE