Guest Blog: Carrie Vaughn

As a big Kitty Norville fan, when I was asked if I wanted to be part of Carrie Vaughn's blog tour promoting her new release, Kitty Goes to War (Canada, USA, Europe), I had to say yes!

Here's the blurb:

Kitty Norville, Alpha werewolf and host of The Midnight Hour, a radio call-in show, is contacted by a friend at the NIH's Center for the Study of Paranatural Biology. Three Army soldiers recently returned from the war in Afghanistan are being held at Ft. Carson in Colorado Springs. They're killer werewolves—and post traumatic stress has left them unable to control their shape-shifting and unable to interact with people. Kitty agrees to see them, hoping to help by bringing them into her pack.

Meanwhile, Kitty gets sued for libel by CEO Harold Franklin after featuring Speedy Mart--his nationwide chain of 24-hour convenience stores with a reputation for attracting supernatural unpleasantness--on her show.

Very bad weather is on the horizon.

Don't miss out on a terrific urban fantasy series:

- Kitty and the Midnight Hour (Canada, USA, Europe)
- Kitty Goes to Washington (Canada, USA, Europe)
- Kitty Takes a Holiday (Canada, USA, Europe)
- Kitty and the Silver Bullet (Canada, USA, Europe)
- Kitty and the Dead Man's Hand (Canada, USA, Europe)
- Kitty Raises Hell (Canada, USA, Europe)
- Kitty's House of Horrors ( Canada, USA, Europe)


More Authorial Responsibilities by Carrie Vaughn

I followed with train-wrecky fascination the whole "George R. R. Martin is not your bitch" kerfluffle last year, and it got me thinking. Not about deadlines specifically (I'm always thinking about that at some level) but about other areas of authorial responsibility, and some problems that inevitably show up with a long-running series. Such as the one where, eventually, the author is going to take the story in a direction that some, or many, of the readers don't like.

I'm starting to think this is impossible to avoid. You write a few books about the same set of characters, develop a following, and that world and those characters live on in your readers' minds while you're holed up in your cave writing the next book. You're not telepathic. Neither are they. The readers start spinning events forward in time, developing expectations about what should happen next, who should hook up with whom, and so on. Then the next book comes out, and what happens there isn't what they wanted to have happen. The satisfying reading experience they expected isn't satisfying, or as satisfying as they wanted. I think this is an issue that most writers can sympathize with because we've all experienced it as readers (or TV viewers, or movie viewers, and so on). We know how frustrating it is. We want our readers to be happy. But there comes a point where it's impossible to make everyone happy.

The more books there are in a series, the more likely this is to happen. You can't make all readers happy. They're all spinning different stories in different directions. This is where authorial responsibility becomes what it always is: write the best book you can. Your readers have followed you this far, most of them will keep following. If you write a good story, they'll trust you, and appreciate that your imagination differs from their own. At least, you hope they'll trust you.

This happened pretty early on in the Kitty series: in the third novel, Kitty hooked up with a different character than the one many of my readers thought she should hook up with. In fact, I did something to that character -- Cormac, hands down the second most popular character in the series -- to shove him off stage for the next several books. (I'm trying to do this without too many spoilers, can you tell?) I knew when I did it this would make a lot of people unhappy. I did it anyway, because that was the story I had lodged firmly in my brain and it wouldn't budge. I had to tell the story as it was living in my imagination, because trying to tell any other story would have felt faked and forced.

I was right. A lot of people were really unhappy about that choice. I even got an e-mail from someone telling me she wouldn't read the series again until I hooked Kitty up with Cormac, with whom she so obviously belongs. Huh. But see, it isn't obvious to me. I know what happens at least two books further out than my readers do, and I'm not going to change what I've already planned.

It seems to me that this is one of the risks of fiction, both as an author and a reader. When you pick up a book, do you trust the author to tell a good story? Are you willing to roll with a few unexpected punches? Do you actually love those unexpected punches? I know I do. As long as the author convinces me it's the right way to go, I'll go with it. As an author, I have to listen to my own story instincts, but if I take the story in a new direction, I have to make sure I sell that change and convince my readers that it's the right story. And I have to be aware that not everyone is going to be happy no matter what I do. In the case of the plot twist I mentioned, I think I did okay because I've gotten plenty of e-mails supporting my choice, in addition to the ones telling me I'm crazy.

Kitty Goes to War is the eighth book in the series, and we've come a long way in the five years since the first book came out. And yeah, more changes are in store, because Cormac is back in the picture in this book. I don't know yet if his fans are going to be happy with where I've taken him. I'll find out soon enough.

3 commentaires:

Anonymous said...

I think that a good author earns the trust of their readers that a different direction will provide the same kind of satisfaction as the perhaps more expected one. You, Jim Butcher, and Ilona Andrews have all taken 'risks' that have paid off in spades.
However there are also obvious and disastrous exceptions, like Laurel Hamilton, which is perhaps why the Urban Fantasy crowd is a bit kittenish sometimes.

Dawfydd said...

All I can say is Carrie, keep doing what you are doing. the 'Kitty...' books are one of the highlights of the publishing year for myself and some of the guys, as we always anticiapte what you'll put these characters through.
Anonymus makes a good point that a good author earns their readers trust, but I find it also helps if the author has done enough to make you care about these characters so that when somehting drastic happens it really hits you emotionally. Cormac being put out of play is a good example that provided space for some very interesting new directions, whilst I've found the likes of Jim Butcher, Dan Abnett and Peter David also have a real talent for getting reactions out of you.

Rose said...

I can usually follow the author where s/he leads, even if it isn't where I might have like ... IF they seem to be being faithful to what they set up. I can think of two books that (while I liked them overall) I felt completely copped out at the end and didn't follow through with what the author seemed to be setting up. (In at least one case, I have heard from another writer friend of the author that, yes, another ending was planned but then s/he couldn't go through with it. It shows.)