Carrie Vaughn Interview
Authors discuss their writing techniques.
Hi, I’m Mark O’Bannon. Welcome to this rare look into the secrets of storytelling from published authors. Today, I’m joined by New York Times bestselling author Carrie Vaughn, who wrote the Kitty Norville urban fantasy series.
Life as a Writer
How did you get into writing?
I’ve been writing since I was a kid, I wrote my first story when I was about eight. In high school I decided that’s what I wanted to do for a living and started trying to get published. It took awhile, but the whole time I was writing, working at getting better, and working to break in.
When did you first realize that you have what it takes to be a writer?
I’m not sure I’ve realized it yet. I’m making a living, which is great and was always my goal. But I still have a lot to learn and am still working to get better.
Where do you get your ideas from?
Everywhere. Things that make me angry, things that make me happy, things I love, things I hate, music, the outdoors, news, history, everything.
How do you develop your ideas into a story?
I just keep pecking away at it. I figure out who the characters involved are, I figure out how they got into the situation and how they’re going to get out of it. I smoosh several ideas together at once to see what happens.
What kind of stories do you enjoy working with?
Science fiction and fantasy, big epic settings, the fantastic, anything that makes me think, “Wow.”
What genres would you like to explore in the future?
I’d like to write a novel-length love story at some point, just because it’s something I haven’t tackled yet. Also, space opera.
Do you work from an outline?
I try to, though the outline never reveals as much as I’d like it do. I always make new discoveries as I write.
How do you build your story?
I just keep asking questions. What happens next? Why? How does it tie back to what happened before? Then what?
For you, what makes a great hero?
Heart. They don’t need to be great, or the most powerful, or the chosen one, or whatever. They have to have a good heart.
If one of your characters were to describe you, what would he/she say?
No clue. It depends on the character, I suppose.
How much time do you spend researching the setting for your stories?
It depends on the story. Quite a bit, because the better picture of the setting I have in my head, the clearer it will be on the page. And I like to travel.
What settings would you like to explore in the future?
As I said earlier, space opera, and I’d like it to be semi-accurate, which will require a bit of astronomy research, which I enjoy so it isn’t a hardship.
Do you like to know the purpose of your story before you sit down to write it?
Maybe in a general sense, but the threads more often reveal themselves in the course of writing. Theme usually comes through more strongly in the revision. I usually know the end of a story before I start.
Do you have any favorite lines from your stories?
Pretty much anything Kitty says is awesome, I think.
Do you have a routine? A certain place to write? Do you listen to music?
I do listen to music. I try to write every day, but I don’t always write at the same time of day. I’m usually at my desk and computer, though I’ll wander off with a notebook and pen every now and then.
How do you deal with writer’s block?
If I’m blocked it usually means the story has taken a wrong turn. Usually, I’ll set that project aside and work on something else for a few days. By the time I come back to the blocked piece, I’ve had a chance to work out what’s wrong and what I need to do next to get it started again.
How do you go about fixing a story?
I listen to my gut. If something’s boring or not working right, my gut will usually tell me. I try to rework the outline and make sure what the story is actually saying matches what I want it to say. You’d be surprised how often that isn’t the case. I try to read from the point of view of a reader, not a writer.
How do you know when to stop?
When it looks right. When I can’t think of anything else to do to it. When I stop thinking, “Oh, no one will notice if I leave this broken bit there…”
Words of Advice
What words of advice would you give to new writers?
Write a lot. Read a lot. Analyze what you read. Try to do the stuff you like in other books, avoid doing the stuff you hate in other books.
So, what is YOUR plan for the zombie apocalypse?
What’s the best thing you’ve ever written?
My opinion on that keeps changing.
What are you working on now?
I’m working on the sequel to my superhero novel, After the Golden Age, as well as various short stories and planning the next Kitty books.
I’d like to thank today’s author, Carrie Vaughn for being with us today.
I’d like to thank you as well. Please check out the other great interviews in this series with authors, and remember to keep writing! The next published book could be yours.
– Mark O’Bannon
About the Author
Carrie Vaughn is the author of the New York Times bestselling series of novels about a werewolf named Kitty, the most recent of which is Kitty Steals the Show. She also wrote the young adult novels Voices of Dragons and Steel, and the novels Discord’s Apple and After the Golden Age. She’s a contributor to the Wild Cards series of shared world superhero books edited by George R. R. Martin, and her short stories have appeared in numerous magazines and anthologies. An Air Force brat, she survived her nomadic childhood and managed to put down roots in Boulder, Colorado.
Visit Carrie Vaughn online: