#1 New York Times Bestselling Author, Kim Harrison, was kind enough to spare a few moments for a Q&A with Fandom Fatales! With The Hollows being a forever favorite of mine, I had to pick her brain a bit about that one. Hope you enjoy! And thanks again to Ms. Harrison!
1) The Hollows is your longest running series to date. All good things must come to an end, but it’s also a great opportunity for new beginnings. What are some of the challenges you run into as an author when you want to wrap up one series while developing another one?
I know the temptation to drop the current series to focus on the new must seem irresistible, but for me, not so much. I like my endings as much as I do my beginnings, and I will admit that it’s hard to say good-bye to Rachel and the world I’ve painstakingly developed. She’s been my focus for over a decade, and when faced with the end, I will admit I panicked, finding myself unable to actually write the last book until I took a summer to write out an entirely new manuscript that was not Hollows related. It was as if I had to prove to myself again that I could write something else. I had so much fun with it that I wrote another, proving to myself at least that yes, I am not a one-trick/genre writer. And with that confidence, I dove into the last Hollows book with a new excitement, determined to give Rachel the most solid, resounding, happy/sad ending I could. As a writer, it feels satisfying, but the readers will tell me if I hit the mark or not.
2) A number of long running series stagnate or drop in quality toward the end, but that wasn’t been the case with The Hollows. Your later books happen to be the best rated. Why do you think that is?
Thank you! I really appreciate that. I think a lot of the excitement associated with the books is coming from the readers who have invested themselves in the story lines as much as I have. And again, I’m still excited to sit down every day and write in Rachel’s voice–especially now that she’s such a force of action in her world. She’s making a difference, and it’s almost a relief to see the last three years of her life evolving to where she is now: confident, positive, and willing to make a sacrifice for those she loves.
3) We’re all really looking forward to the next Peri book. You are one of the best authors out there when it comes to world building. I’ve never been to Cincy and yet I feel like I know it very well. Can we look forward to more of that with Peri?
Ahh, you know where my heart lies now, with Peri. I like Peri because she picks up where Rachel leaves off in regards to confidence and good decisions. It’s Peri’s history that trips her up, and I am itching to write the next page. Her story will not be centered out of Cincinnati. No, I have found a city that mirrors her, a proud, stubborn city that knows what sacrifice is and how it can lead to both dizzying heights and crushing lows–that taking a hit makes you stronger if you have the grit to look them in they eye as you wipe the blood from your mouth. That’s my girl, and that’s the city she lives in.
4) As you look back on a successful run with the Hollows, what one (or two) things did you learn that were most helpful to you as a writer – either because it went well or because it failed?
This is a really difficult question, but what sticks out most with me is that working so long in one world was a double-edged sword. As a writer, I had the luxury of time to develop characters and situations with a slow, sultry dance, perfecting the art of the long-running romance and how to maintain the thread of interest that kept readers coming back to find out more. I learned a lot. But even as my skills developed, I was confined to one voice, one point of view. It’s the itch of learning a new way to write that pulls me out of the Hollows, not a disinterest in the characters. I want to stretch other writing muscles that the Hollows wasn’t able to touch. It was why I scripted the graphic novels and why the Hollows world book is more akin to an extravagant, four-color coffee table, tour-guide book than a bland list of character descriptions and spells.
But what was the most helpful to me as a writer? Probably that there’s no sure way to write a book. I have a method of putting my thoughts down on paper that I’ve been tweaking for as long as I’ve been writing, but it shifts from book to book, and I’ve learned to let go of techniques that worked well for me in the past in order to develop new ones. It’s all about putting new tools in your writers’ toolbox. Nothing is ever wasted, and a technique you abandon today might be the one you reach for tomorrow. Keep trying stuff until you find what works for you, then keep your eyes open for something better.
5) What are your thoughts on the ease of access between readers and writers with the advent of social media. Do you see it as a good thing or more of a hindrance.
Good thing or hindrance? I imagine that would depend on the writer. I’m in the fortunate place of having a lot of spousal support which enables me to let go of a lot of the day-to-day stuff and free me to be more accessible. I’m also a compulsive organizer, meaning I religiously devote 1-2 hours a day to social media, and then the rest of the day is to write in. Keeping all reader contact in public forum such as blogs, FB and such rather than personal emails was the biggest help in finding a balance that worked for me.
Being accessible was a conscious decision I made almost ten years ago before blog was even a name and Yahoo! groups were the new thing. I had a young family, and I knew I wasn’t going to get to the cons and signings, so I began to “court” the readers online. It’s habit now, and even though I’ve been cutting back due to increased pressure on my time, I don’t think I will ever stop talking to the readers on a M-F basis. I have the best readers, and it’s been gratifying to find that they all, almost to an individual, respect my privacy if they know I am available in a regular, expected format. It’s a good feeling knowing your readers respect you, and in turn, I try to give them a ride they will never forget.