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An Interview with Carrie Vaughn

Thursday, Mar 19, 2009 at 9:22am

Ever heard of a werewolf named Kitty? Carrie Vaughn, bestselling author of the Kitty Norville fantasy series, was kind enough to answer a few of my questions in a short email interview.

CG: When and why did you decide you wanted to be a writer?

CV: I've always written, always loved writing. In eighth grade English we got a creative writing assignment that was the coolest thing in the world, and when the rest of the class started complaining I was shocked to discover that not everyone loves to write. I decided then that I wanted to be a writer. By my last year of college, I realized I didn't want to do anything else, so I started pursuing publication in earnest.

CG: In a very short time Urban Fantasy has become one of the most popular sub-genres of fantasy fiction. To what do you attribute its popularity?

CV: I wish I knew. It's a combination of a lot of things. The biggest is I think there's an audience that's absolutely starving for good action heroines, which this genre has plenty off. Also, people can't seem to get enough of the supernatural--vampires, magic, etc. Those things in combination with the real world, imagining the real world with those creatures in them, also seems to really strike a chord.

CG: Kitty's first appearance was in a short story. How did the world of your books evolve from Dr. Kitty Solves All Your Love Problems to Kitty and the Midnight Hour?

CV: When I first had the idea for a talk radio advice show for supernatural creatures, I thought it was pretty hokey. I thought there'd be enough for a short story and not much else. What I discovered, though, was that the radio show was the perfect backdrop to explore just about any supernatural topic I wanted. Would there be Congressional hearings? Would there be faith healers? Reality TV shows? On the show, Kitty could interview anyone, discuss any topic at all. I wrote a couple more short stories about different topics (Kitty Loses Her Faith, Kitty and the Mosh Pit of the Damned). I got to the novel by focusing on the character, Kitty, herself, rather than the supernatural. Who is this person? How did her show start? How has it changed her life? I turned those questions into a coming-of-age story about a person who discovers a purpose in life then has to grow strong enough to stand up for herself.

CG: Patricia Briggs recently spun off her Mercy Thompson series to include a second series of novels in the same world. Is this something you would consider doing? Any characters in your series you feel would be front runners for their own books?

CV: Cormac, definitely. I have some plans brewing for him. He's kind of been off doing his own thing for the last couple of books. He may have been off stage, but he's been busy, and I hope to do something with his adventures some day. Also, I'm thinking of writing a story starring Detective Hardin, my tough woman cop from Denver.

CG: You've just released books 5 and 6 in the Kitty Norville series. What can readers expect from you next? Do you have a definite end in mind for the series?

CV: I do have an end in mind, but I don't know exactly when that's going to be. I keep getting more ideas for books in the meantime. I hope to keep escalating Kitty's challenges, to watch how she grows into those challenges. I have more magical creatures and folklore I want to delve into. Basically, there's so much material out there in the world, I may never run out of ideas.

CG: It is not uncommon to see rape as a plot point in Urban Fantasy, particularly where a female protagonist is involved. Do you think this is equating the change from the natural world to the supernatural as being a violation, or more of a commentary on our own dangerous reality?

CV: I think all those interpretations are valid. In the particular case in Midnight Hour, I specifically wanted to juxtapose the attack by the rapist and the attack by the werewolf, and have the rapist be the more monstrous of the two. We don't need monsters when we have crimes like that in the world.

CG: On your blog you've mentioned one of the real world influences for Kitty's series, could you explain the connection between the wolves of Yellowstone National Park and Kitty Norville?

CV: In the mid-1990s, wild wolves were reintroduced to Yellowstone National Park. National Geographic did a great documentary, "A Legend Returns," on one of the reintroduced packs, the Druid Peak Pack. The Druid Peak females displayed some interesting rivalries, and researchers dubbed one of the younger females the "Cinderella Wolf" for the way she was picked on and beaten down by the older alpha female. But the Cinderella female eventually grew in strength and persevered, driving out and killing the older female.

This echoes some of the plot of Kitty and the Midnight Hour in some pretty spectacular ways. Kitty is a Cinderella Wolf. The funny thing is I worked out my plot before I saw the documentary--the film served as validation.

CG: How did you come to be involved with Tor's relaunch of the Wild Cards franchise. Is there any classic Wild Cards character you would love to write?

CV: I was a fan of the series from the beginning. When I started getting published, I met Daniel Abraham, who had a story in one of the later Wild Cards books. I asked him how I could get in on the action, and he summoned me to Albuquerque for Bubonicon, the regional science fiction convention, where I met Wild Cards editors George R. R. Martin and Melinda Snodgrass, and some of the other writers. I basically bugged them about it from that point forward, and when the relaunch got started was first in line with my proposal.

Classic characters? Most of them are retired and I'd be loathe to drag them back into the action, but I think I would need to write Croyd Crenson at some point. I got to write a Billy Ray scene in Busted Flush, which was a huge amount of fun. And people keep asking me whatever happened to Water Lily.

CG: Wild Cards, much like the worlds of Marvel and DC Comics deals with superheroes. Would you ever consider writing comic books yourself? Are there any existing characters you are dying to tackle?

CV: Not sure. Writing for comics is a bit daunting because it's a whole new format. I love the superhero teams, Justice League and Avengers and the like. Wonder Woman has always been my favorite of the classics (of course). But I think I'd rather build up my own original cast, so I can mold them to my will.

CG: Thanks Carrie, here's hoping you never run out of ideas for Kitty's adventures.

See Also:

The Official Carrie Vaughn Website

The Kitty Norville Series by Carrie Vaughn

Inside Straight Edited by George R. R. Martin

Busted Flush Edited by George R. R. Martin

Categories: Interview, Authors, SciFi & Fantasy

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Kitty Takes a Holiday

- by Carrie Vaughn - Kitty Norville (series)

Trade paperback $10.50 - Add to Cart
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After getting caught turning wolf on national television, Kitty retreats to a mountain cabin to recover and write her memoirs. But this is Kitty, so trouble is never far behind, and instead of Walden Pond, she gets Evil Dead. When werewolf hunter Cormac shows up with an injured Ben O'Farrell, Kitty's lawyer, slung over his shoulder, and a wolf-like creature with glowing red eyes starts sniffing around the cabin, Kitty wonders if any of them will get out of these woods alive...

Kitty and the Silver Bullet

- by Carrie Vaughn - Kitty Norville (series)

Trade paperback $8.50 - Add to Cart
Reader Reward Price: $7.65

Kitty's radio show is as popular as ever and she has a boyfriend who actually seems to understand her. Can she finally settle down to a normal life? Not if this is just the calm before the storm. When her mother falls ill, Kitty rushes back to Denver--and right back to the abusive pack of werewolves she escaped a year ago. To make matters worse, a war is brewing between the city's two oldest vampires, threatening the whole supernatural community. Though she wants to stay neutral, Kitty is again drawn into a world of politics and violence. To protect her family, her lover, and herself, she'll have to choose sides. And maybe become what she hates--a killer.

Kitty and the Dead Man's Hand

- by Carrie Vaughn - Fantasy Grand Central Publishing (series)

Trade paperback $9.00 - Add to Cart
Reader Reward Price: $8.10

Werewolf Kitty Norville and her mate Ben face-off against werewolf-hating bounty hunters -- on their honeymoon, no less --in this suspenseful follow-up to Kitty and the Silver Bullet.

Already the alpha pair of Denver's werewolf pack, Kitty and Ben are planning to tie the knot human-style by eloping to Vegas. Kitty is looking forward to sipping fru-fru drinks by the pool and doing her popular radio show on live TV -- but her hotel is stocked with werewolf-hating bounty hunters.
Elsewhere on the Strip, an old-school magician might be wielding the real thing; the vampire community is harboring a dark secret; and the irresistible star of a suspicious animal act is determined to seduce Kitty.
Sin City has never been so wild, and this werewolf has never had to fight harder to save not only her wedding, but her very life.