After much torture and moaning and psychological damage I inflicted on poor Rachel Vincent, unintentionally of course, I got the dream interview with my urban fantasy icon. Here is what she dropped in. I promise that next time I will squeeze her out even more, just wait until her newest project arrives. *Evil Grin*
1. Hello Rachel and thank you so much for fitting this interview in your schedule. I’m really thrilled about this interview as you have been the reason to start blogging in the first place and getting to love UF and somewhat get a glimpse in the writer community. I did some background check up and it seems that you have had a very dynamic childhood. How did you find living in so many different parts of the US and why did your family move so much?
Um, I liked most of our moves. They were each a chance to try something new. A new house or apartment, a new school, new potential friends. But of course, I missed the old one. As for why we moved, I’m not sure. We settled in one town the year I was ten, so most of the moves were before that. My parents got divorced, remarried, found new jobs, needed a change. Lots of reasons, I guess. 😉
2. So as we all know, writers usually get this bang on the head by an invisible epiphany and suddenly from ordinary human beings we all get the strange notion to start creative writing. When did your epiphany bang you and how did that happen? I mean it could have been either a novel or an actual hit in the heat. Details are usually wanted here.
I didn’t really have that epiphany. I’ve wanted to write for as long as I can remember. I wrote my first short story when I was five, and wrote all the way through school. I took about a five-year hiatus from writing after college, while I tried out the “real” world, but after that, I dug into it with renewed enthusiasm, and haven’t looked back since.
3. Reading your short bio I came across a sentence, which mentions your college years and I had to wonder. What did you study?
I have a Bachelor of Arts in English, with a concentration on literature. Even most of my electives were extra lit classes. Though I also took an interest in Philosophy, Women’s Studies, and French.
4. That same paragraph mentions you dabbled with short fiction at that time as well and since I do dabble with that one as well I am curious to know what you exactly wrote about. Did Urban Fantasy always ruled your artistic heart from the first story you have ever written or have you been influenced by a popular at the time genre? Stephen King is in question here, since you seem to be his fan.
Um, actually, none of my pre-published writing is in urban fantasy. They were contemporary short fiction pieces, mostly about people who were whatever age I was at the time. One that sticks out from high school was a story I wrote about a bunch of strangers on a bus. The bus had an accident and rolled down an embankment, leaving the survivors to get to know each other—including the requisite Deep Dark Secrets—while they wait to be discovered. Of course, since I can’t seem to write anything without blood and death, only one passenger survived in the end, after seeing all her new friends die off one at a time, waiting in vain for rescue. 😉
5. You also mention that “Stray” started out as a short story and then became a novel. Was the transition hard and why did Faythe made such an impression that you decided to tell her story more fully?
No, the transition wasn’t really hard. It just sort of happened. Faythe’s tale began as a short-story tie-in to the two previous (unpublished) novels I’d written. I was hoping to break into publishing in the short-story market. But her tale didn’t end after a few thousand words, and eventually I realized I had the beginnings of another novel. So I kept writing. I ended up making a clean break between her world and that of the original two novels, and I knew I had something good. Or at least something with real potential… 😉
6. Speaking of Faythe (I seriously can’t stop snickering, cause I love her) isn’t she too powerful and assure of herself for her own good? I mean her stubbornness left quite an imprint in my mind and even though I knew she was acting immature her motives were steel solid. Good job about that one. So will we see a Faythe that is a bit more wise and patient?
Do I think she’s too powerful and sure of herself? No, not really. Physically, she’s not as strong as her fellow enforcers, and there’s nothing she can do about that. And she’s less and less sure of herself with each mistake she makes. But because of that, she’s growing and maturing with each novel, and I’m having fun watching her transition. I hope everyone else enjoys it too. 😉
7. Now let’s go on to the world at hand. I personally am not a great fan of that kind of shapeshifters, since werewolves over flooded the media. Count me as a massive scale guy like woman growing to be a dragon or so, but I fell in love with yours. Why did you choose feline shape shifters and why did you made them solely black panthers? I would have liked to see lions and tigers, but the author knows best and I wanna know the logic.
I chose cats because I’m a cat person. I like puppies as much as the next person, but I tend to lose interest in dogs when they grow up. But I love cats. They’re graceful, and strong, and stubborn, and they definitely know their own minds. Just like Faythe.
As for why they’re all black, I don’t know. They just kind of came out like that, and I ended up tying their physical description into lots of actual sightings of black cats, everywhere from the southern US to Europe. This gave me a chance to try and explain those sightings, by making up my own species. Whereas I would have had a hard time explaining lion and tiger sightings in Texas. They’re not even native to this continent.
But if you’re looking for other cat species, like tigers and lions, I think there are several other writers out there who write those kinds of books… 😉
8. Another reason to ask that question why big feline shapeshifters is because I know for a fact from your blog that you are scared to death from big cats. Normally I would be scared too, if the distance between one and myself were less than a meter and I had no chainsaw. Isn’t this a bit of an oxymoron?
Oh, maybe. 😉 It’s also a way to face my fears. I’m also terrified by tornadoes, but I live in Oklahoma, which sees more tornadoes every year than any other state in the US. What can I say? I’m a woman of many contrasts. 😉
9. Now to continue with the big cats I would like to ask how the hell researched them so well that you would know how your characters move, how they react in their cat forms and well have such a well developed society. You must have watched days’ worth of Discovery Channel movies.
I did! I watched Animal Planet, and the National Geographic channel. I read articles on feline anatomy, behavior, and instinct. I studied the cats at my local zoo, and scoured the internet for clips of the various sounds they make. I also studied the cats in person, at an animal rescue organization in Tulsa.
And, of course, I watch my own house cats. Some of my Shifters’ features and abilities come from house cats, rather than big cats. Like their vertical pupils, and ability to purr. 😉
10. So far in your world we only see these shapeshifters and many UF novels I read feature some sort of other beings. Jeaniene Frost adds some ghouls to spice things up, Karen Chance does the same with ghosts, while Vicki Pettersson adds the mysterious Tulpa. Do you plan to introduce something paranormal-y into the good mix?
Not in this series, no. In my Shifters series we’ll see only humans, werecats, bruins, and thunderbirds. There were werewolves once, but they went extinct.
However, I have a new (young adult) series coming out next fall, and in that, we’ll see a whole host of beings, most of which I made up from a combination of “creature” characteristics I wanted to use. The main character of that series is a banshee, and I can’t wait to introduce the world to my take on her species… 😉
11. Okay, it’s a new round in our interview called “Play Psychic” and it will discuss your future. Now let’s start with something you do know about. ”Rogue” hits the bookstores in just about a week and what can the readers that love Faythe expect?
Well, since I’m answering these questions late, some people will already have read Rogue. But in case they haven’t, readers can expect to see a more mature Faythe dealing with the consequences of past mistakes, while hunting for a rogue in their territory.
As for Pride, the third installment in my Shifters series, we’ll be seeing the outcome and fallout from her trial, and we’ll also be introduced to a couple of new characters, at least one of whom will have a permanent effect on her life and her outlook.
12. I somehow missed the exact details about the length of your series. If I had to rely on my rusty memory it’s around five or six, but you can say with total accuracy. For how many books will we enjoy Faythe kicking ass?
Faythe will have six books, all of which are already under contract with Mira books. The first two (Stray and Rogue) are available now. Pride will be out February 1st, 2009, to be followed by Prey on July 1st, 2009. I’ll be writing book five early next year.
13. When her story eventually ends as with all good things happen, have you prepared something that will blow our minds? So any future plans?
Well, I have my young adult series coming out next fall, and it will run concurrently with my Shifter books. And I have the first book in a third urban fantasy series ready to go. Whenever I find the time… 😉
14. I know by reading your blog that you have a side project that is titled as “Side Project”. How much aside does it stand from your world and what does it explore?
“Side Project” sold this past spring, so it now has a title! It is a young adult novel called MY SOUL TO TAKE. It does not overlap with my Shifters’ world, and contains no animal shapeshifters. It has lighter violence and sexual content, and is appropriate for readers fourteen and up. Though I think it will also hold appeal for adults. The second in the series is half-written, and is called MY SOUL TO SAVE. I’ll be writing the third one this fall.
15. I’m sure that success lies, where your work appears and in this one it counts in which country Faythe will be saying her punch lines. Has your agent scored you some foreign rights and if you could wink and get a contract for any country what would you choose? Also as an extension of the question would you like to see Faythe on the big screen doing what she does best, surviving barely?
Um, I sold foreign rights to my US publisher, which means that Mira Books will shop those rights for me. I believe that the werecat books will be out in Australia next year, but I don’t have any information beyond that. As for where I’d like to see the books? Europe, definitely. I get a lot of mail from people in Western Europe, asking how they can get a hold of my books, and other than ordering from Amazon, I don’t know what to tell them.
Would I like to see Faythe on the big screen? Of course! But mostly because that would widen the potential audience for the books. 😉
16. Do you outline or write straight from the heart and see what happens later on?
I outline straight from the heart. 😉 Every book I’ve written since Stray I’ve outlined in advance, because my publisher requires me to hand in a synopsis. At first, that was pretty hard, but now I’m really happy to do it. Having the plot outlined in advance allows me to write the rough draft very quickly.
17. Does writing pay the bills or do you have to drag yourself somewhere at 8pm and do what other mortals do aka waste brain cells at a hell hole for green paper?
I feel very fortunate in that writing pays my bills. It is my full time job, and I love it. I hope to still be doing this twenty years from now. 😉
18. Now for a grand finale. How do you feel being interrogated by a foreigner, not yet fully stepped into legal adulthood, who speaks English as a second language?
Actually, I’m really impressed! I didn’t realize you were so young, and I only wish I had such a wonderful command of a foreign language. So, congratulations, and keep working! I have no doubt you’ll get wherever you want to go with that kind of hard work. 😉
And this was Rachel Vincent, cool as always! If you would like to become a fan start with:
1) Rachel Vincent’s Website
2) Rachel Vincent’s Blog
3) “Stray” by Rachel Vincent
4) “Rogue” by Rachel Vincent