Let’s start with an introduction: Who is Carrie Vaughn?
Person, author, collector of hobbies, usually a traveler but that’s on hold for the moment.
Your new story collection, Kitty’s Mix Tape, is due to be published by Tachyon in October. It’s the final instalment in your Kitty Norville series: how would you introduce the series to a potential reader, and what can fans of the series expect from this book?
The series is about a werewolf named Kitty who hosts a talk radio advice show for the supernaturally disadvantaged. She has lots of adventures along the way. Kitty’s Mix Tape collects most of the short stories related to the series I wrote after about 2010 — plus four brand-new, never before seen stories. As usual with the Kitty-related short stories, they often feature the supporting cast, revealing their secret back stories, and including lots of other fun snippets and easter eggs that fans will enjoy.
What inspired you to write the novel and series? And where do you draw your inspiration from in general?
I realized that vampires and werewolves and other supernatural creatures living in the modern world would need their own advice shows, because Dr. Laura and Dr. Phil just wouldn’t know what to do with their problems. From that small beginning, the idea blew up, since Kitty and her show gave me a chance to write just about any kind of story I wanted, with lots of great supporting characters. As far as inspiration in general… everywhere, really. A piece of music, a piece of art, a news story. Not liking the way some other story or movie turns out and wanting to tell my own version. My own obsessions and demons.
What lessons have you learned from writing the series?
Kitty really taught me about voice — how the confidence of a strong, distinctive voice can really carry a story. I’ve been able to bring that to a lot of my other writing.
How were you introduced to genre fiction?
My parents are both avid readers of science fiction so I grew up with it. It was actually weird finding out there were people who didn’t read science fiction and fantasy.
How do you like being a writer and working within the publishing industry?
I love being a writer. There’s a lot of freedom there, setting my own schedule and building my life the way I want it. The publishing industry can be a challenge sometimes, but it really helps knowing what I want out of the business and keeping my eye on the prize.
Do you have any specific working, writing, researching practices?
Just to try to do a little bit every day. I don’t try to knock out huge word counts or write at a set time. I just make sure I do something — writing, revising, reading, outlining, brainstorming. As long as I’m taking baby steps I seem to get to where I’m going. When I read non-fiction, I usually make notes that all go into a research file, which can be very useful.
When did you realize you wanted to be an author, and what was your first foray into writing? Do you still look back on it fondly?
I’ve been writing stories since I was pretty young, and in junior high I had an epiphany during a creative writing assignment — not everyone likes to write. I do, so I started really working on writing as something I liked that I could get good at. In high school, I started submitting stories to magazines. I didn’t sell anything for a long time, but I decided then that I wanted to be an author. I mostly look back with bemusement — in some ways I’m glad I started when I was really young and naive because if I had known how hard it would be I might not have plunged in like that. I just didn’t know how long it was going to take to get good and break in. And that was probably for the best.
What’s your opinion of the genre today, and where do you see your work fitting into it?
I think it’s difficult to try to describe or encapsulate the genre today — it’s vast, expansive, with too much to keep up with, and that’s all great. Science fiction and fantasy is no longer a weird pulp niche. It’s basically mainstream these days and has something for everyone. As for where my work fits in… I think that, more than ever before, I and many other authors have a chance to write what moves us rather than trying to fit into a narrow definition of the genre.
Do you have any other projects in the pipeline, and what are you working on at the moment?
I have a lot of projects. I’m always working on new things, short stories and novels and everything in between. Most recently I released a pair of novellas about Robin Hood’s children, The Ghosts of Sherwood and The Heirs of Locksley. Next year, I have a novel coming out called Questland, about a high-tech gaming resort gone horribly wrong. I’m also working on a fantasy novel set in the Neolithic period.
What are you reading at the moment (fiction, non-fiction)?
I just wrapped up reading about Greenwich Village of the 50’s and 60’s for a story I’m writing. Martha Wells’ most recent Murderbot novel is on my to-read pile.
If you could recommend only one novel or book to someone, what would it be?
That’s a tough one and changes on a day to day basis, but lately I’d say The Last Unicorn by Peter Beagle.
What’s something readers might be surprised to learn about you?
I have no idea! Once you get to know me nothing about me seems all that surprising. I’m a pretty avid costumer, and dressing my niece up for Halloween has become a big deal.
What are you most looking forward to in the next twelve months?
A safe, effective, and widely available coronavirus vaccine.
Carrie Vaughn’s Kitty’s Mix-Tape is due to be published by Tachyon Publications on October 16th, in North America and in the UK. Earlier this year, Tachyon also published Vaughn’s The Immortal Conquistador, which is the vampire origin story of Kitty’s famed ally, Rick (it is also available in the UK).
The Kitty Norville series is published in North America by Grand Central Publishing (#1-7) and Tor Books (#8-14); the first ten novels in the series are published in the UK by Gollancz, and the Tor editions from #11 are also available in the UK.