1. Rachel, ROGUE is your second book, and it follows the story of Faythe as she's dealing with the repercussions from STRAY while facing new dangers in both her professional and personal life. How different was it to write a sequel versus the first book?
I actually wrote Rogue nearly three years ago now, so it was already written when it sold, along with Stray and PRIDE which was then unwritten. Writing a sequel is hard work, but it’s a different kind of hard than the first book in a series. Since my books (like Jeaniene’s) are about a single central main character, part of the work is already done for subsequent books before I ever start them. I’ve already done most of the world-building (though that will develop more with each book) and I already know who most of the characters are.
But your characters need to grow with each book. If they don’t, the books will stagnate, and both the readers and the author will get bored. Everybody loses. So I try really hard to keep my characters developing with each new storyline, while still keeping them true to themselves.
2. I've heard some authors say they refuse to read in the same genre they're writing in, for fear of contaminating their own story lines. Do you read urban fantasy / paranormal romance as well as write it?
I understand that line of thinking, but I love urban fantasy, and if I didn’t read the genre, I would never have thought about writing in it.
That said, I try not to read in my genre while I’m actually writing a rough draft. However this year, one of my goals is to read more books, so I’ve actually read three urban fantasies (including Halfway to the Grave) so far in 2008, and am half-way through a fourth. But my werecats are so established in my mind at this point that I’m not really afraid of accidentally contaminating a book.
Also, I think it’s important to know what’s already been written, so you know and can take advantage of what areas haven’t been explored very well yet. ;-)
3. So you've got the werecat world by the tail (yes, I know, I should stop with the puns already ;), but are there other creatures you'd like to write about?
Yes, there are! There are a couple of other kinds of shifters in Faythe’s world, and we’ll see one of them in the third book. But I also have the first books written in two other series. (Okay, three, but that first, pre-sale series will probably never see daylight.) Both are urban fantasy, and neither involves vampires, shifters, or witches. So what kinds of creatures are they about? You’ll just have to wait and see… ;-)
4. Since I just finished ROGUE and I'm already impatient to find out what happens next, when does the third book in the series come out, and does it have a title yet?
PRIDE is out March 09.
5. Do you plan on doing a book (or books) starring some of the side characters in your novels? If so, who might get their own spotlight?
I probably won’t write full-length novels about any of the secondary characters, but I’m definitely open to writing short stories or novellas about them. And the most likely candidates include all of Faythe’s brothers. And maybe her cousin Abby.
***Questions from my LJ readers***
6. What is your favorite thing - and least favorite thing - about being a writer?
I love rough drafting. And I love hearing from readers. My least favorite thing is the waiting, and there’s a lot of waiting in the publishing industry. That’s just the way it goes.
7. What was your favorite line to write in Rogue, and why?
Oh! The scene in the strip club where the bartender says to Faythe, “Are you allergic to feathers or double-sided tape?”
I love that line because it (and Faythe’s reaction to it) really expresses her discomfort with the entire situation, and her determination to do things her way from then on.
8. Your book covers: what did you think about them? Did you have any input on them?
I love my covers! Rogue especially. My publisher has a very detailed Art Fact Sheet , which asks the author for synopses, descriptions, the meaning of the title, any symbolism, and major events. I fill that out for every book, but the actual decisions are made in the Art and Marketing departments, and so far they really seem to be hitting the mark with mine. I couldn’t be happier about that.
9. How did you get your agent?
I queried her. Nothing exciting. I went the usual route, waited out my term in the slush pile, then answered the phone when she called. It was as simple as that. The system really does work. You just have to be patient.
10. What inspired you to write about werecats?
I love shifter books, but didn’t feel like I had anything to add to werewolf lore. And I’ve always loved cats, so werecats seemed to make sense for me.
11. How do you feel about the wave of most authors having blogs?
I love blogs! I blog five days a week, barring catastrophe. It lets me keep in touch with my readers and with my author friends, and commenting on one of my blogs is the easiest way to get in touch with me. I read ALL of the comments I get, and try to answer all the questions. And if the questions get a lot of interest, I’ll usually devote an entire blog post to them.
12. Do you have any quirky writing habits -- like drinking 12 cans of Dr. Pepper or wearing special lucky clothing when you write?
Um… Not really. But I can’t—absolutely cannot—write at a desk. I can’t get comfortable in a desk chair, and I hate sitting so far away from the screen at a desktop. I write in my recliner in my den, or on the couch in my living room. I use neither paper nor pen, if I can help it.
However, I have noticed that when I’m stuck on something, my creative output is directly proportional to my chocolate intake. ;-)
13. Are there any real life people who end up in your books? (I'll make a confession: in every book I write, someone with a name variation of [omitted for fear of lawsuit] dies. That's because I had an old coworker who annoyed me in ways I cannot even express, and I found it very therapeutic to name a minor character after him/her - and then have my hero or heroine kill them ;-). Have you ever done something similar?
Um, no. Not so far, anyway. While I love that idea, I’m kind of afraid that if I use my talent for evil (like creating a literary Voodoo character, a la Jeaniene Frost ;-), Karma will pay me back with low sales. Or something like that. But I have noticed in retrospect that the names I pick at random quite often belong to someone I knew as a child. I have no idea why. ***Jeaniene's note: Rachel's comment about bad karma made me tell her the story behind Literary Voodoo person, and Rachel now agrees that yes, this person definitely had it coming.***
Thank you so much for doing the interview, Rachel! Of course I'll be looking forward to seeing you in person at Romantic Times, and Conestoga.