Wednesday, August 04, 2010

Carrie Vaughn for Authors @ The Teague

Carrie Vaughn, author of the recent books, Kitty Goes to War, and Discord's Apple, was a recent guest author for Authors @ The Teague.  The author of the Kitty Norville books said she has all these ideas for books, and she has to get them out there.

She gave fans a heads-up, saying her next book in the Kitty Norville series would be Kitty's Big Trouble, set in San Francisco's Chinatown.  She said there had been a movie in the 1980's called Big Trouble in Little China, and the title is an homage to that.  She was pleased her publisher let her call it Kitty's Big Trouble.

Carrie then went on to read from her book, Kitty Goes to War, the eighth book in the series.  Kitty, who is a werewolf, and a DJ, received a package from librarian at the Library of Congress, a listener to her program.  It was a transcript, and it indicated that General Sherman might have been a werewolf.  So, Kitty wants to exhume General Sherman's body to determine if he was a werewolf.

Vaughn's other new book, Discord's Apple, is a contemporary fantasy involving legends, and the near future.  The inspiration for that came from Vaughn's own life.  In 2007, she lost two relatives, a great-aunt and a grandfather.  Carrie had been a military brat, so she never really knew her family heritage.  But, with the deaths in the family, she returned home, and visited the family homesteads.  It gave her a sense of family history.  Her family had moved a lot, and she had no sense of heritage or family history until that year.  She had the opportunity to hear all kinds of stories about he family.  She saw a tire swing that had been hung from a tree so long that the ropes grew into the branches.  Her grandfather used that swing.  It all affected her.  So, as a fantasy author, she put that emotion to use in writing Discord's Apple.

Evie Walker returned home because her father was dying of cancer.  And, she found out she was the reluctant heir to a storeroom.  Mythological and magical artifacts were held there.  There was the Golden Fleece from the story of Jason.  Hermes' winged slippers were there, along with Puss-in-Boots' boots.  Evie's family were the guardians for these artifacts.

The other major character is Discord's Apple is Sinon.  He was in the Greek Army in the Trojan War.  Vaughn said she came across him while reading Virgil's Aeneid, and he was her favorite character.  He was the guy who stayed behind when the Greeks left, and talked the Trojans into taking in the horse.  He was an excellent liar, and it was all his fault that the Trojan Horse entered the city, and it was destroyed.  But, after that event, Sinon disappears.  We know what happened to Odysseus and Agamemnon.  There are more stories about them.  So, Vaughn wrote Sinon's story, telling what happened to him.  And, he's around 3,000 years later to meet Evie and team up to protect the artifacts.

Vaughn said she's frequently asked where she gets her ideas.  She's an avid reader of newspapers.  And, then her ideas take off from there.  For instance, in Kitty's world, werewolves would need their own talk radio show.  What would the world look life if vampires and werewolves were accepted?  Or, what would happen if Sinon had lived after the Trojan War?

Carrie said she loves her job as a writer since she can daydream.  She's inspired by music.  She's inspired by bad movies, because she thinks, I can tell that story better.  There's no limit to her imagination.

One member of the audience mentioned that she's a Wild Cards fan. Wild Cards is a shared world created by George R.R. Martin and Melinda Snodgrass, with stories written by a number of authors.  It's been going since the 1980s.  Vaughn has been a fan since high school.  It was her soap opera.  She was so pleased to be included in the consortium of authors that write for Wild Cards.  In order to be included, an author pitches character ideas to George.  You have to create a superhero character, and then the story arc is pitched to the publisher.  The writers and superheroes are included on a book by book basis.  They're going to be releasing a new version of volume one.  It came out in 1986, and they're filling in some of the historical gaps.  That book covered WWI to the 1980s.  There are three new authors in it.  Carrie got to go back and write the backstory for an older character.  That book will be out in November.

She also wrote a murder mystery set in Jokertown.  Jokertown is a ghetto occupied by the monsters who are not quite superheroes in the Wild Cards world.  They're accepted there.  Fort Freak is the Jokertown Police Precinct.  That's will be in an all Jokertown book.

Asked who her characters are in the Wild Cards books, Vaughn said she created Curveball and Earthwitch, two kick-ass girl aces because they needed more girl aces. 

She said she hoped there would be more Kitty Norville books after volume ten because she hasn't finished telling Kitty's story.  She picked werewolves for a short story ten years ago because she had nothing original to say about vampires.  But, there was really only one werewolf story being told, based on Lon Chaney's role in American Werewolf in London, and the werewolf dies.  Vaughn thought there were more stories to be told about werewolves.  What if the main character can cope with being a werewolf?

So, Carrie Vaughn's main character, Kitty is a werewolf who hosts a talk radio show.  And she can get in all kinds of trouble because of the radio show.  That enables Vaughn to write about anything.  And, in her world, it's all real.  She has a Vegas stage magician who appears, and his magic is real.  He'll be back on other books.

Vaughn does avoid reading other urban fantasies, unless she's asked to blurb them.  One author she reads is Patricia Briggs.  But, she doesn't like to read them because she wants her books to be her own ideas, and she's afraid something she reads might bleed over.  So, she knows a lot of the authors, or knows of them, but she often hasn't read them.  Plus, she's a slow reader.  Carrie reads a lot of nonfiction since she does a lot of research.  And, she will read her friends' books.

Her favorite fantasy book is Robin McKinley's The Blue Sword.  It isn't McKinley's best, but it's Vaughn's favorite, and she reads it every year.  McKinley's books are poetic.  The characters are down to earth.  And, she has the best horse characters.  She does horses and dogs well.  Her subjects are so real.

Carrie admitted she's loved fantasies for a long time.  The first one she read was Charlotte's Web. She read it at an early age, all the way through.  Then, for a creative writing project, she wrote a story called "Sally the Horse."  It was a total ripoff of The Black Stallion.  She got an A on it when she was eight, and she just kept going.  Writing enabled her to exercise her imagination.  She was a military brat, and the family moved a lot.  She might not have a lot of friends, but she could always write.  In junior high, she realized not everyone wanted to write.  And, she realized you could write books.  Vaughn said writing is easy.  Writing well is not.

Kitty and the Midnight Hour was Carrie Vaughn's first published book.  She had written three or four books before that one.  But, the ones she writes now are much better than those early efforts.

We enjoyed hosting Carrie Vaughn, a fantasy writer, as a change for Authors @ The Teague.

Carrie Vaughn's website is

Discord's Apple by Carrie Vaughn. Tor, ©2010. ISBN 9780765325549 (hardcover), 304p.

Kitty Goes to War by Carrie Vaughn. Tor, ©2010. ISBN 9780765365613 (paperback), 342p.


Elizabeth Spann Craig/Riley Adams said...

I love the idea of a werewolf DJ! What a cool character!

Lesa said...

Carrie was a very interesting author to have for Authors @ The Teague, Elizabeth. She really showed there are no limits to imagination when it comes to writing.

joven said...

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Lesa said...

Thank you, Joven.