Rachel is a bestselling author and creator of The Morganville Vampires series of novels and soon to be a web TV show starring Amber Benson as Morganville town founder Amelie. Rachel talks about The Morganville Vampires novels and the successful Kickstarter campaign which made the web series possible. Rachel also talks about how she started her career, advice for any aspiring authors out there and what we can expect to see from her next.
This is an interesting and thoroughly enjoyable read thank you to Trista for allowing me to repost the interview here and remember for more interviews, information on books and much more please check out spinecrackers.com.
Now over to Trista and Rachel:
In 2006, I was at a local bookstore, pilfering through the selections that were presented before me in the young adult section. Yes, I am entirely a big kid, and still am. As I looked through the shelves, my eyes lit on a book that I hadn't seen before.
Now, typically, I'm not one to read the back cover of a book, because I've learned that you can't judge a book by its cover, OR by the synopsis on the back, so I never even bothered wasting my time. This book was different. I loved the cover, and I even flipped it around and read the bit on the back.
I bought it, and read it in about a day, caught up in the story of Claire Danvers, a student attending a university in Texas, living in a town called Morganville. A town ran by vampires.
From that day forward, my love of the Morganville series, and author Rachel Caine was born.
Now, Morganville is going onward to some pretty awesome things, as it is being formulated into a web series, written of course by Rachel Caine herself.
Rachel was gracious enough to agree to do a little interview with Spinecrackers, despite her slightly chaotic convention and busy schedule. I hope you guys enjoy getting to know this pretty amazing woman!
SC: First off, I really appreciate you taking the time out of your crazy schedule to do a quick interview for Spinecrackers. Just in case there is anyone out there reading this, who doesn't know the name Rachel Caine, tell us in which genre you primarily write and why you chose that particular one.
RACHEL: I mostly write these days in Urban Fantasy and Young Adult, but I have written in mystery, suspense, romantic suspense, paranormal and horror! (You’ll notice that these all have shared elements. What I write tended to shift from one category to another, but it never was all that different no matter what the label put on it.)
I write suspense and action/adventure because it’s what I adore reading … and I almost always have some eerie supernatural or paranormal element. So it ends up being classified (for now!) as Urban Fantasy on the adult side, and generally in paranormal on the Young Adult side.
SC: All writers have their fun little quirks. What would you say are some of yours?
RACHEL: Hmmm. Well, I need my coffee, and I need my laptop, and that’s kind of it. No funny hats or special stuff.
WAIT I LIE. I need music. I make playlists for each book – when can be an interesting search when you’re writing a Shakespearean book like the upcoming Prince of Shadows. (The answer to the question in your head is that there is a very splinter section of music called NEW MEDIEVAL. It’s not classical, or folk, or pop, but it’s kind of a melding of all those things.)
SC: Are you a plotter or a pantser?
RACHEL: Hybrid. I started out a pantser but realized that in order to keep up with the schedule I was writing under, plotting was essential to avoid wasted time. So I still outline, even though I still kind of hate it. But it helps. No doubt.
SC: You pretty well answered this in one of the previous questions, but...Do you find it easier to concentrate on your writing while listening to music(or some kind of background noise), or complete silence?
RACHEL: MUSIC MUSIC MUSIC. All the time. And if I’m in a busy place, even better.
SC: You have delved into both the worlds of adult fiction and young adult fiction. What would you say is the biggest difference between the two?
RACHEL: I’d say there’s no difference in the writing process at all, but there’s a huge difference in the audience. YA audiences tend to be wildly enthusiastic and very outgoing, which is super fun for an author. They haven’t learned restraint, and I love that about them! Also: they make fun videos and fanfic and fanart like crazy. All so wonderful.
SC: While doing my homework for this interview, I've noticed that you've written under a few different pen names. Is there any particular reason for that, or are you just trying to keep things interesting?
RACHEL: Well, see, I’m often on the run from the CIA and … okay, no, it’s not that exciting. See, I started writing as Roxanne Longstreet (my unmarried name) because that was my name at the time. I ran into some marketplace troubles because horror generally stopped selling well, so I changed my name to my new, shiny married name (Roxanne Conrad) to start writing romantic suspense. That wasn’t where I needed to be, so after two not terribly successful books, I moved again to Urban Fantasy, where I again needed a reinvention (this time as Rachel Caine). Other names I’ve written under include Julie Fortune (for fanfiction and later a Stargate: SG-1 novel, so even my fanfic identity turned pro) and (as a one-time-only) Ian Hammell, for the reprint of my first book, Stormriders.
SC: What inspired you to begin writing, and what continues to inspire you?
RACHEL: I remember an assignment in school where the teacher gave us a prompt sentence – and it really made my imagination go wild. I don’t think I stopped writing after that one assignment – little stories, then longer ones. Notebooks filled up. Once my parents bought me an old typewriter, I was absolutely unstoppable. (Even more so, once I bought my first computer!)
I guess in terms of continued inspiration – I just love telling stories. And I love the writing process, and the people I’ve met along the way … I think what inspires me is mostly just the possibilities of saying something new, every day.
SC: Let's talk a little bit about the Morganville Vampires, which is one of my favorite series. You have crafted such an intricate character development and plot twists throughout the series. Has there ever been a turn in the series that has taken you by surprise?
RACHEL: Pretty much all twists in my books take me by surprise. I surprise myself, and by surprising myself I think I tend to surprise readers, too. Often my subconscious is crafting it all along, of course, but my conscious mind isn’t necessarily aware of it until I suddenly feel that little nudge and think, “Ooooh, what if THIS happened instead?” (And yes, I’m aware this violates my “plot first” rule, but a synopsis is really a suggestion, not a road map. :o)
SC: What gave you both the inspiration for the character of Claire, and the idea to create a town run by vampires?
RACHEL: I grew up in West Texas (in El Paso) and driving to and from that fairly large city, it always struck me how utterly empty the country was for hundreds of miles around it – desert and little, isolated towns that seemed to never grow or shrink. I was fascinated by the idea of how these towns sustained themselves, and why people would choose to live in them … and I decided that one of the reasons they would was that they literally couldn’t leave. From there, the idea of the vampires owning the town came, and then why the vampires themselves would choose to isolate themselves in such an inhospitable place. So, a bit of a spiral out.
SC: There was a pretty awesome Kickstarter campaign launched a few months back to make Morganville into a web series. Congratulations on you guys making your goal! Can you talk with us a little about the web series, and tell us what the most challenging part of going from prose to screen has been thus far?
RACHEL: Thank you! We’re so excited by the rally and support of our readers around this, and I won’t lie, it was hard, and continues to be hard as we get the last of our Kickstarter incentives shipped out. (When you have over 800 sponsors, and about 450 packages and boxes to pack and mail all over the world, it does get time-consuming!)
BUT, I’m delighted to report that our scripts are final, and we’re only awaiting some green lights on things on the back pre-preproduction end to make our official production announcements.
I guess in terms of what’s been the most challenging, it’s the time frame … people did warn me that it never goes as fast as you think it will, and they’re 100% right. This is a very slow, time-consuming process that will go very quickly once we get moving and filming. But it seems glacial getting to that point.
SC: GLASS HOUSES is probably my favorite out of the series, so far. If you had to choose, which Morganville book was your favorite one to write?
RACHEL: I usually say either FEAST OF FOOLS or LAST BREATH. Both of those were extremely fun to write, because they just flowed straight out of my head without any hesitations or problems. Basically, like all writes, I grade a book on how hard it was to write … not necessarily whether or not it was the best one I’ve written. Sometimes, the hardest ones are the most rewarding, ultimately … but I think that LAST BREATH was a win on both sides of that equation.
SC: Over the course of your career as a writer, which work are you the most proud of?
RACHEL: I think the upcoming book PRINCE OF SHADOWS, simply because it was such a huge left turn for me, an utter departure from the modern-day work I’m known for, and it was a passion project for me. I really, really wanted to do it, and I’m really excited about how it turned out. Had I allowed myself to think too much about what would happen when it was measured against the source material of ROMEO AND JULIET, I probably would have freaked out and stopped, but I’m so glad I continued.
SC: What should we be expecting to see from you next?
RACHEL: DAYLIGHTERS, the last Morganville Vampires novel, is coming out November 6. After that, PRINCE OF SHADOWS is out on February 4. I’m still considering my next series!
SC: From your experience, what should aspiring writers consider from the beginning of their writing careers? Are there any pearls of wisdom that you can leave for other writers out there that have yet to make it into the publishing world?
RACHEL: One thing I have absolute faith in: you have to do the work. That means sitting down and working your craft – if not every day, then as often as you can. I was sitting with someone the other day whose sister is an Olympic hopeful, and there are no days off. No breaks. No holidays. There is a bit of the same level of commitment in all the arts if you want to break into the top ranks … it takes serious and continued work.
That’s of course no guarantee of success; it’s a bit of a recipe, which has a large helping of luck and a tablespoon of enthusiasm and a cup full (or more) of dogged determination. Garnish liberally with passion!
Thanks so much for having me in for the interview. Best wishes to everyone!