An Interview with Carrie Vaughn
I took a chance and emailed an author whose work I absolutely love. She responded! I can’t thank Carrie Vaughn enough!
AW: Which author wasn’t your greatest inspiration, but did make you think, “Maybe I could be an author”?
CV: It’s really hard for me to separate those two things out. Two of my favorite authors were my greatest inspirations precisely because they made me want to be a writer. Ray Bradbury’s writing was so magical and evocative, I wanted to learn how to do that, how to make words come together to be so magical. Robin McKinley’s writing was so immersive, and her characters so vivid, and I wanted to learn how to do that, too. It’s the things that are inspirational about those writers that made me want to write.
AW: Tell me about the first time you thought, “Wow. I’m a real author!”
CV: Well, I’m afraid I still have days when I’m just not sure! I do remember one vivid moment, I had just sold my first novel, and I was in Boston for the World Science Fiction Convention. The Lord of the Rings exhibit of props and costumes was at the science museum there, and I loved it. I was so inspired, so in awe of the hundreds of people who had worked on the movie and how wonderful it was that they shared their creativity with the world — and I started crying because I realized that I was also getting to share my creativity with the world, and it finally felt real.
AW: That’s truly amazing! What’s the oddest part about your routine that you simply must do in order to sit down and write?
CV: I don’t know that it’s odd, but I need to have music playing, and just the right kind of music. If the words aren’t coming, I put on some different music, and keep trying until something clicks.
AW: What is your biggest writing obstacle?
CV: I’ve been doing this long enough I’m not really sure. I’ve found work-arounds for a lot of obstacles. But often, if I’m stuck on a story, it takes me a while to realize that I’m stuck, and that there’s a problem with the story I need to go back and fix before I can get unstuck. I still have trouble realizing sometimes when my subconscious just needs time to work out a problem. So I’d say my biggest obstacle is impatience — I wish I could write it all, right now, and I just can’t.
AW: How do you prefer to network, and what impact do you think those avenues have had on your sales?
CV: This is a big question with a lot of different interpretations. What kind of networking? Are we talking sales to readers, or to editors? Networking has made more of an impact after I started publishing than it did before. My favorite kind of networking is just getting together with other writers and editors in small groups and having great conversations — making friends. Those are the friends I can then go to for advice or commiseration. And every now and then an opportunity will come up, and if people know my work and my name, they’ll come to me for help. I’m not sure any of this results in direct sales to readers, but it all helps build a reputation and makes for a more solid career, which I think comes through to readers in the long run.
As far as sales, publishing the best books I can, over and over, builds up a lot of trust with readers, and that’s what really helps build a career.
AW: It’s always interesting to me how authors interpret this question, and what kinds of answers they provide because of their interpretation. It makes me happy it’s vague, since I get to see all kinds of perspectives from it. What is one mistake you’ve made in your publishing career that you’d like to warn other authors off of?
CV: Listen to your gut. Develop a gut instinct that will tell you when something is off. I have a pretty good gut instinct, but sometimes it takes me longer to act on it than I should. There’ve been a couple of times I regretted waiting longer to act on a hard decision than I should have, when I knew it was the right thing to do. You are the one person looking out for your own career more than any other. Not your editor, your agent, or anyone else but you.
AW: Is there any advice you’d like to give to a new writer?
CV: Write as much as you can. Read as much as you can. Learn from what you read. Get better.
AW: What are you currently reading?
CV: I’m re-reading A War for the Oaks by Emma Bull. I just finished Fingersmith by Sarah Waters. I’ve also got Lois McMaster Bujold’s Brother in Arms in progress on my phone, for whenever I need to read a page or two of something.
AW: Have any super fans found you yet, and if so, what sort of things have they done that seem surreal to you!
CV: I’m not really sure! People have done really nice things for me, given gifts, sent really touching emails and so on. Just having people read my books seems surreal sometimes. I had one who turned into a stalker, and that wasn’t much fun at all.
AW: Oh no!! I’m sorry about the stalker! When people read your books, what do you want their greatest take-away to be?
CV: I want them to enjoy the books. I want them to leave with a good feeling, after being emotionally engaged. Like the feelings I’ve had after reading my favorite authors.
You can read my review of author’s book/series here.
Carrie’s newest book, Martians Abroad was released this week:
Carrie Vaughn is best known for her New York Times bestselling series of novels about a werewolf named Kitty who hosts a talk radio show for the supernaturally disadvantaged. Her latest novels include a post-apocalyptic murder mystery, Bannerless, winner of the Philip K. Dick Award, and its sequel, The Wild Dead. She’s written several other contemporary fantasy and young adult novels, as well as upwards of 80 short stories, two of which have been finalists for the Hugo Award. She’s a contributor to the Wild Cards series of shared world superhero books edited by George R. R. Martin and a graduate of the Odyssey Fantasy Writing Workshop. An Air Force brat, she survived her nomadic childhood and managed to put down roots in Boulder, Colorado. Visit her at www.carrievaughn.com.
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Continuity Editor & Virtual Assistant
Hello! I’m Adriel Wiggins, wife, mother of three, fur mom, bibliophile, art geek, and all around student. I’ve been on a quest all of my life to learn as much as I possibly can about everything I possibly can. This has helped me tremendously in what eventually became my life’s purpose: to help other people become the best version of themselves. It is in that line that I became an assistant.