The introduction to “Crazy Rhythm” had me laughing out loud at both the antics on set and Margie’s casual efficiency. What is it about humor that invites readers into the story?
You know, I’m not sure I know the answer to that. In this story, I’m relying quite a bit on well-established tropes of dictatorial directors and on-set mayhem that have been around since the story actually takes place. In this case, the familiarity sets readers at ease and lets their guard down. Who doesn’t love the feeling of being behind-the-scenes on a movie and being let in on the secrets of production?
What inspired the setting for story?
Every Hollywood insider story I’ve ever seen, from Singin’ in the Rain to The Rocketeer. That, and a bout of research into World War I tanks. I encourage readers to go to YouTube and watch some footage of the Mark V, and you’ll understand that scene when Margie talks about the strangeness of it.
I also have to say I really love putting two completely incongruous subjects together in the same story. In this case, WWI-era tanks and the silent Hollywood movie era. Weird sparks usually happen, no pun intended.
World War I was a brutal affair unknown to many of today’s younger readers, yet Peter’s character and, at times, battered psyche, speak to the horrors of war that transcend the era or conflict. When writing, how conscious are you of portraying a character’s emotional needs in a compassionate manner that not only furthers the plot but encourages reader empathy?
World War I is far too forgotten, and I wonder sometimes if, even a hundred years later, it’s still too raw and shocking. Unlike World War II, it’s a war that’s difficult to make any sense of.
In retrospect, I write quite a lot of stories about soldiers recovering from battle. It’s the part of the story that happens after the war story is over, and hasn’t gotten a lot of attention until recently. (In fact, it seems like most of the stories being told about current wars are post-war recovery stories.) I’m very conscious that, when writing about these kinds of characters, I have to be accurate and sympathetic, because it’s such a real experience and there are far too many people out there who know exactly what that experience is. I would hope that readers would be empathetic to that experience as a matter of course, since in some ways that’s the point of the story — what is the character arc of someone going through this?
Do you have a particular historical event or setting you’d like to explore further in your writing?
I’m constantly discovering new eras and settings I want to write about. Usually, the story comes first, and I find myself suddenly doing a ton of research into subjects I hadn’t considered before. I let the stories decide. For example, two ideas I’m working on right now: One is a story about the early days of Rick, a vampire character from my Kitty series, that’s going to be set in seventeenth-century colonial Mexico. It’s an interesting period — after the conquistadors but before the more familiar mission/expansion era — that I know nothing about, so I’ve got some work to do. Another is a story set on the American side of the naval battles of the War of 1812. Again, not a period I thought I was interested in, but I’ve got this story I want to write, and that’s where it is. I think, as a fiction writer, it pays to be a generalist, because then you’re never limited in the kinds of stories you can tell.
What’s next for Carrie Vaughn? What can eager readers expect from you in the future?
The next — and last (for now) — book in the Kitty series, Kitty Saves the World, is going to be out in August. I also have an ebook novella that I’m pushing, “Paranormal Bromance,” speaking of humor — this would be a good one for fans of comedy. I’m spinning up the next projects to go after that, and I have the usual round of short stories due out. Check me out at carrievaughn.com for more news.
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