Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Guest Blogger - Rachel Caine

THE MAGIC AND MAYHEM OF ... BEING AN AUTHOR!

You know, if somebody had told me when I was just starting out how amazing being a professional writer is, I'd have believed that. Wholeheartedly. And it IS amazing, and wonderful, and magical ... but that's not all it is, of course.

So let's talk a little about the magic, and the mayhem, and how that equation balances out (at least for me).

THE MAGIC

There is something absolutely, undeniably magical about the way that words on a page can move people. As a storyteller, it's so amazing to come face to face with someone who really connects with your work. It's humbling, too ... people are allowing you into their hearts and minds, and that's a truly personal sort of connection.

I'll tell you my two most magical experience so far, to prove my point.

Soon after I began to write the Morganville Vampires series, I got a letter from a teacher, who told me that she had bought the first three books for her class, and that one of her students who had never been interested at all in reading picked up the first one, read it straight through, then avidly read the rest. That student then came to her and said, "You never told me books were fun! What else have you got?" For me, if I never do anything else, this one thing is worth any amount of mayhem I've encountered in this business.

Second, I got a letter from a 20 year old woman who told me that she had never read a single book all the way through in her whole life ... that she hated reading, but she faked her way through school, and fooled her parents by checking out lots of books, moving around bookmarks in them, and checking them back in without ever actually reading a word. As it happened, she continued the habit even after school ... and one day her power went out in her apartment. She was bored, and a little desperate for something to do, so she sat down and read the first page of one of my books that she'd checked out. And she read the whole book. I was literally the first book she'd ever read, and she was so excited that she emailed me to thank me.

Wow.

That's ... magic.


THE MAYHEM

Writing ain't always glamorous, though. I have personally rarely gotten to sip champagne and eat bonbons after completing a deadline ... I mostly collapse, then drag myself up and do it again. Getting up before dawn and heading to the coffee shop to write for three hours before going to a full time day job ... that'll do some damage to you when you keep on doing it day after day, month after month, year after year.

Over the years I haven't so much burned the candle at both ends, as set the candle factory on fire, with myself inside. And that has consequences ... to health, family, friends, peace of mind. But like most choices we make, it's a matter of setting your priorities. For better or worse, I set mine to put my writing ahead of a lot of things. Which resulted in some mayhem to the rest of my life.

I've had disastrous books over the years -- one sold less than 2,000 copies nationwide, which is pretty sad considering I probably bought at least 20 of those. I've been bounced out of three publishers during my career -- I don't blame them at all, because I wasn't producing the kind of sales that they needed to see. I've had book signings where nobody but the very kind staff of the store came to see me (actually, it's embarrassing how often that happened). I've figured, every year, that I probably wasn't cut out for this writing thing (which is probably why I kept holding on to my day job).

But you know what? The magic still wins out over all that, every time. Because it's a funny thing about magic ... you only need a little bit to get you through the stress, the long hours, the doubts.

That's why it's magic.


WHAT'S NEXT

So far, I have four books set for release in 2010: UNKNOWN, the second book of the Outcast Season series (Feb.); KISS OF DEATH, book 8 of the Morganville Vampires series (April/May); TOTAL ECLIPSE, the 9th book of the Weather Warden series (Sept.), and GHOST TOWN, book 9 of the Morganville Vampires (Nov.)

While all that is going on, I'll be working on writing GHOST TOWN, followed by the third Outcast Season book (UNSEEN), followed by the first book in a brand new series, DEAD SEXY (for release in late 2010/early 2011). Toward the end of 2010 I'll be working on the 10th Morganville book, which is currently untitled.

That's a lot to do ... but don't worry. I live by this great exchange from the movie Shakespeare in Love (all hail writers Marc Norman and Tom Stoppard):

"Mr. Fennyman, allow me to explain about the theatre business. The natural condition is one of insurmountable obstacles on the road to imminent disaster. "
"So what do we do?"
"Nothing. Strangely enough, it all turns out well."
"How?"
"I don't know. It's a mystery."

In other words ... magic.



-- Rachel Caine

4 comments:

  1. I can't tell who I'm talking to in this post so I'll guess it's NOT directly to Rachel Caine. Several comments:

    1. I really enjoyed meeting the author way back when she attended the Romantic Times convention back in Houston. There was a huge room full of tables upon tables of authors and their books. It was a reader's heaven :) I was particularly struck by the enthusiasm and positive energy that both she and her husband projected. :D You would think that she was there with her very first published novel. They looked like they were having SO much fun! I even got a picture taken with her, thanks to her hubby. They struck me as the type of positive energetic but down to earth people that I'm normally drawn to as friends.

    2. I'm closely following both the Weather Warden and the Morganville Vampire series. They are both great. They are not static cookie-cutter stories. I really appreciate it. The quality of the writing is also stable and I don't have to wonder from book to book whether it's something worth buying or not. Again, I appreciate THAT.

    3. I love using Morganville Vampires as an example of the writing level that I wish that all Young Adult writers would meet or exceed. Why do some of them think that turning into a teenager means the IQ drops into the idiot range? Rachel doesn't treat the YA reader like they're short of a few marbles. She also acknowledges that hormones are a part of the teenage life but it does NOT rule their entire life. Thank goodness.

    Amy T.
    (who doesn't understand this "profile" thing so will select "anonymous" in this comment)

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  2. Great blog. And a really great attitude. Magic is very important, please keep it up.

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  3. One of the things I love about the Morganville series is how incredibly creepy the setting is. These vamps are not ones I would want to be friends with!

    And on another note, I always felt sorry for authors at this one store I used to go to if I DIDN'T have time to stop and talk. I want all the authors out there to know I REALLY appreciate their work (even if I haven't read their book yet). Not enough time after all...

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  4. Rachel,
    I found your blog fascinating and loved how you tied everything together. I will be reading your books in the future and it's wonderful you took the time to give us such an interesting blog.
    THANK YOU!

    Happy Holidays,
    Pamela

    ReplyDelete

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