I am such a huge Rachel Caine fan. I loved battling storms and Dijn with Joanne Baldwin, gained some human perspective with Cassiel and most recently I've been enjoying the resurrection racket with Bryn Davis. But it's Caine's 'Morganville Vampires' series, and the awesome-foursome of Claire, Shane, Michael and Eve who I have a real soft spot for.I can't believe 'Morganville Vampires' is now into its 13th book, with the latest offering of 'Bitter Blood' setting up some very interesting curve balls for the Glass House residents.I was actually lucky enough to catch up with Ms Caine last year, for a lovely breakfast (courtesy of Penguin Books Australia!) and I had a wonderful time picking her brain... so I couldn't pass up a second opportunity to find out the latest goss about one of my favourite authors!
If you would also like the opportunity to meet Ms Caine - check out her Aussie tour dates!
Q: I understand that ‘Morganville Vampires’ will be ending with a whopping 15 books in the series – with the very last book, 'Fall of Night', to be released November next year. Have you started writing that book yet? Have you observed any writerly rituals to say goodbye to these characters that you first wrote into existence back in 2006?
Actually, FALL OF NIGHT will be the next-to-last book, released in May 2013 ... we haven't yet finalized the title for #15, but I'm leaning toward DAYLIGHTERS. I haven't started Book 15 yet, although I have done the outline -- I'm just finishing up FALL OF NIGHT at this time. (My publishing turnarounds are much faster than normal on deadlines, so Book 15 will be written after the first of the year.)
But when I get there, and start writing it, I think the reality will definitely set in. It certainly did when I finished the last book of the Weather Warden series in Urban Fantasy ... the reality that 9 years of living with those characters had come to an end. It's very much like moving neighborhoods ... you know you'll settle in, make new friends, but you always feel nostalgic for those you left behind.
As to rituals, I suspect that finishing Book 15 will be followed by an actual vacation -- the first I've taken in nearly 20 years. And I'll probably hoist a glass of ale to the road behind me, and the road still ahead.
Q: ‘Morganville Vampires’ was really your first foray into YA. Do you think you’ll ever revisit the young adult genre with a new series or stand-alone?
Absolutely! I've already finished a stand-alone novel called PRINCE OF SHADOWS -- you'll hear more about that as we get closer to 2014 when it's scheduled for release, but it's about Romeo and Juliet. I also have a new series, unrelated to anything else, that I'm putting down in the planning stages right now. So definitely there's more to come!
Q: ‘Morganville Vampires’ has come such a long way and taken so many twists and turns. Fans read the awesome foursome survive Bishop, the draug and Ada – we’ve seen good characters turn bad, humans turn vampire and we’ve had to say goodbye to a beloved few (Sam! *sniffle*). I wonder if you’re a ‘plotter’ or a ‘pantser’ – that is, do you plot your books meticulously or fly by the seat of your pants? And was there ever a time when fan influence had sway over the story (I know that many fans pushed for a Myrnin/Claire romance – and in recent books you have broached the subject…) furthermore, was there ever a time when you were really surprised by the direction the series took?
I definitely started my career as a pantser -- seat of the pants, going without a map. I wrote about ten books that way before I started publishing often enough that having that roadmap was essential -- not just for my sanity, but for business reasons for the publisher, who needed to design covers, write ads and copy, sell the book ahead into stores ... it isn't all about the book itself. So I was forced to try to find a compromise between the two. Now, I have a general outline of events, and then I find room to "pants" my way around and through them!
Hmmm, fan influence ... I try not to let anyone else's ideas influence what I do, but I had always intended for Myrnin to have a bit of a fatal fascination for Claire, and for him to be equally fascinated by her. It isn't a romance, per se ... in Myrnin's mind it probably comes closer, but it's really mostly deep admiration and trust. He's the world's worst candidate (well, next to a draug, probably) for boyfriend, because as sweet and fantastic as he can be, and as loyal as he is, he's also unpredictable and has a history of killing those he loves when he's out of control. This is not what you want in a sweetheart.
Q: In the last few ‘Morganville Vampires’ books you’ve started writing perspectives beyond just Claire’s. I, personally, have loved Shane’s insight – it’s really been a way to mark his growth from the angry young man in ‘Glass Houses’, to someone with a lot to lose (and fight for!) in ‘Bitter Blood’. What gave you the idea to offer up more perspectives in the latter-half of the series? And who have you most enjoyed writing for?
It started in BITE CLUB because there was no way I could pull off the plot without people understanding what was in Shane's head. I tried -- I wrote it all from Claire's perspective. But Shane came off horribly, and there seemed no way to make it work without more explaining than I was comfortable with doing. So ... I switched to Shane's perspective.
But once I'd done that, I realized that it really opened things up for the events that were coming with the draug, so I kept going, opening up the world more and more.
This continues in BITTER BLOOD, because (again) of the necessity to have other characters carry plot points. And you'll see it to a smaller extent in FALL OF NIGHT.
Q: In 13 books so far – what has been the hardest scene you’ve had to write, and what made writing it so difficult?
The toughest scenes are always the ones that you don't expect. I have no problem with action scenes ... once things are moving and the plot is charging along, the writing goes extremely fast.
It's the beginning of the book that is the toughest for me, every time -- getting established back in the world, allowing the characters to find their feet before the plot sweeps it all away. The structure and order is necessary as a contrast to the chaos that's to come, but it also can be challenging to write.
I also had to be careful of the big love scene between Claire and Shane in CARPE CORPUS, because I wanted it to feel real, sweet, exciting, awkward ... all the things that it would be in real life. It had to be more realistic than romantic, in my mind, and I probably rewrote that scene five or six times to get it right.
Q: ‘Fall of Night’ is your next book in the ‘Morganville Vampires’ series, and it’s the one before the big finale. Can you give us any clues about what we can expect from book #14?
It's WAY out of the Morganville box, as I mentioned before ... big changes for characters not only in geography, but internally as well. This is a pivotal book for Claire learning what she really wants and who she really is ... I strongly felt that Claire needed to become her own person and face some issues without the protection of the Glass House gang (at least initially), so this is what came out of that. It's a shock to her to find out that when you leave someone behind (her former best friend Elizabeth) the person they are when you see them again isn't the same ... and it can be dangerous to underestimate how much someone can change. We'll meet some new characters who'll play important roles in Book 15 as well.
Q: Are you aware of the many, many, many, many Morganville ‘mock trailer’ videos there are on YouTube? What do you think about fan’s fantasy casting (particularly the persistently popular Jared Padalecki as Shane?)
I think the mock trailers are GREAT! Honestly, the creativity of my readers just blows me away ... I saw one the other day that looked like an actual movie trailer, and it would've fooled me if I hadn't known better.
The casting is always fun, but in practical terms, Jared's done playing teens, and he wouldn't be convincing anymore as Shane at 18. I love him, and he's absolutely the right type, but I look at the type, not the actor. Because who's available and the right age when (IF) something comes about is usually completely different than your dream cast.
Q: Something I love about ‘Morganville Vampires’ is that you take what is, essentially, a sociological idea of a vampire-run town and turn it into something rather magnificent that fits beautifully into the vampire mythology. I think you did it again with your new ‘Revivalist’ series – which I read as delving into the world of big Pharma and corporate takeover – which fits very cleverly into a modern zombie mythology. Where did you first get the idea for the ‘Revivalist’ series, and what made you want to explore zombies?
Thanks! As you probably know from the news, the USA faces unusual issues in regard to health care -- we're a wealthy nation, and we have some great hospitals and doctors, but we also have traditionally not had the kind of healthcare safety nets other countries do. Our insurance has always been employer-based, with some private insurance available for purchase. Other than that, there is "charity healthcare" where you can be treated as a charity patient if you meet certain very strict income levels.
For many entrepreneurs (like me!) the struggle to get health insurance is a nightmare. I am a successful writer by any standards, and by small business standards especially ... yet the insurance companies will not insure me for any price, because I am not employed by someone else, and I have had health issues in the past. They have the ability to reject me for coverage, and do.
Living in that world, where no matter how much money you may be fortunate enough to have in the bank just means you're six months away from homeless if you have a car accident, serious illness, etc. -- it made me think about how much we're controlled by the very companies that save us. Our employers ... the insurance companies ... and the drug companies. Many people exist just a day or two away from death if they can't afford their medication.
I just held a science fiction mirror up to a real situation.
Q: On that note – what other supernatural creatures would you like to write about? Werewolves and witches perhaps?
I honestly don't know yet. I'm still letting things form in my mind! But I don't think it will be anything too easy to guess :)
Q: Can you give us any clues about the latest ‘Revivalist’ book?
In book 2, TWO WEEKS' NOTICE (you may have figured out the book titles are all a play on employment-related terms!) Bryn will have to face some deadly secrets about who's really behind the impending zombie war, and why ... and deal with her boyfriend Patrick's former relationship with Jane, who in many ways was Bryn 1.0: an original test subject for the nanites, with the unfortunate complication that it made her into a psychotic killer. Is it coming for Bryn, too? And is there any cure to death itself?
Q: I was such a HUGE fan of your ‘Weather Warden’ and ‘Outcast Season’ series. I think Jo & Co. got such an epic, befitting ending and I loved both ‘Total Eclipse’ and ‘Unbroken’. Have we most definitely read the last of the ‘Weather Warden’ universe and the Djinn? And how hard was it for you to say goodbye to those characters who you’d been writing for since 2003? Do they still occasionally ‘speak’ to you, even though their series’ are over for now?
Awww, thank you! I truly cried when I ended the cycle of those stories ... I tried to make it as big and epic an ending as I possibly could, because I felt that they were larger than life themselves, and deserved all I could do. It's a super fun universe, and I definitely will go back to it (possibly for novellas or e-releases) but I'm letting my brain cool off a bit before I jump back in. :) This is my first year without a Weather Warden book in, eep, more than 10 years if I count the time I spent writing ILL WIND! And yes, they definitely do speak to me ... especially as the powerful storms are lashing us in the USA. I think we might need the Wardens now more than ever!
Thank you for the chance to chat -- I'm really looking forward to seeing everyone at SupaNova in Brisbane and Adelaide, and at the upcoming signings in Sydney and Melbourne!!