Welcome to Mourning Goats!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

#12 John Langan

20 Questions with Mourning Goats
John Langan

Paul Tremblay told me about John Langan a few months ago and after reading his interview here, as well as his books, I trust Paul's judgment; I was right in doing so. Enjoy the interview of an up-and-comer that I'm sure you'll be hearing a lot more about, soon.

1. What comes to mind when you hear, "Mourning Goats?"

A small herd of goats—maybe five or six—gathered near the grassy top of a modest mountain.  Their coats are almost comically long; their horns, undersized; the expression on their faces one of disaffection—indeed, they look like a talented child’s approximation of a goat.  At the very summit of the mountain, a grey stone box, its surface cracked, the cracks seemed with hardy lichen, rests.  The goats range nearer and farther from the box, but there is a certain distance they will not venture any closer to it, just as there is another distance they will not stray any further.  Ask one of the men or women who live in the village at the foot of the mountain about these animals, the stone box, and he or she will tell you that these are the Mourning Goats.  The man or woman will not contradict you when you state that their mourning must be connected to the box, but when you try to explore the matter further, ask if the box is a tomb, or a monument, or maybe an altar, he or she will refuse to answer you.  It is not good to speak of such things, you will be told, and that is all you will be told.  If you insist on hiking the mountain to examine the goats and their charge, you will see a look of panic flash across the face of the man or woman with whom you are speaking, but he or she will not stop you.  
2. You're a teacher at SUNY New Paltz, a story writer, novelist, non-fiction writer, father, husband, and practice karate-- that was tiring just to type out; how do you do it?

Well, I had to drop karate because my knees couldn’t take it, anymore, and I only teach part-time at SUNY New Paltz, which helps my schedule (if not my bank account).  Aside from that, it’s a balancing act.  I suppose it’s gotten a little easier in the last couple of years, as my son has reached school age, but even so, it’s a matter of prioritizing.  As just one example:  I used to try to do a lot more non-fiction—book reviews, especially—than I do now; that’s because I realized the number of book reviews I was writing was taking too much time away from my fiction writing, which was what I most wanted to focus on.  Life is fluid, so you have to be prepared to accommodate that.    

3. How has working with Night Shade Books been?  Do you see a lot of differences when working with different publishers as well as different genres of writing?

All things considered, I’ve been very fortunate in the publishers I’ve worked with.  Prime, who did my collection, Mr. Gaunt and other Uneasy Encounters, made sure that the book went out to a huge number of review outlets, as a result of which, I received reviews from publications such as The San Francisco Chronicle, The L.A. Times, and The Washington Post.  Night Shade took a novel, House of Windows, that the genre folks thought was too literary and the literary folks thought was too genre, and produced a lovely book.  When the hardcover didn’t sell as well as they wanted, they went back to the drawing board and redesigned the trade paperback edition, which has done somewhat better. 

Having worked with only two publishers, I’m not sure I’m qualified to make any kind of broad statement about publishing.  In terms of working in different genres, the only other genre in which I’ve published has been the non-fiction/academic one, and there, I’ve been very fortunate in terms of finding a number of editors who have been receptive to what I’ve wanted to write about.  

 4. As an academic, what are your thoughts on teaching writing, and learning how to write:  do you believe it's something that is taught, something that is just there, or something else?

I guess I’d have to say, “Yes.”  There’s no denying that some people have that facility with language and storytelling that we stuff under the name talent.  At the same time, no matter that raw ability, there’s always more that can be done to refine it, not to mention, to develop the discipline required to sit down at the page every day until the story or poem is done.  

A lot of this, I’m absolutely certain, has to do with how much and how well you’ve read.  We learn through imitation, and if you have that nascent ability with language and storytelling (which I suspect is far more widespread than we might think), then you want to allow yourself the maximum number of examples to learn from.  I know that writing workshops are very popular and certainly, they can be useful, but I’d suggest that it may be as, if not more, useful for a beginning writer to engage in a program of intensive reading, take a year or two and just soak yourself in the written word.

 5. I feel like most of my favorite authors have had very interesting jobs, any you'd like to share? Do you think that these experiences have shaped the way your writing has gone? Why?

My job experiences have been a tad less colorful:  aside from teaching since the mid-nineties, the majority of my past work-experience has been in eye-care:  in my younger years, I worked for both optometrists and ophthalmologists.  These were useful jobs, not because of anything to do with their specialty so much as because they brought me into contact with a wide variety of people, both in terms of my co-workers and the patients who came into the different offices.  (Now that I think about it, teaching at a state university these past years has done the same thing.)  It’s very useful for a writer to be exposed to as wide a range of people as is possible, since they are the raw material from which you will make your art.  That and stories:  the more people you meet, the more stories you hear, and what writer doesn’t love stories?    

 6. The first short story you had published, “On Skua Island,” was an 11 or 12 thousand word piece, which is quite long for a short story.  How did you get it in to the Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction? What did it feel like to have such a big piece taken by such a big magazine so early?

Yes, “On Skua Island” falls under that nebulous heading known as “novelette:”  too long for a short story, too short for a novella.  I submitted it to F&SF because they were one of the few magazines willing to look at such long fiction unsolicited.  (They still are.) I sent it to them the old-fashioned way, via snail-mail, and was astonished to receive a check and contract from Gordon Van Gelder within about a month.  I can still remember standing at the mailbox at the end of the driveway in my bathrobe, tearing open the envelope.  As I’m sure you can imagine, it was a big boost to the ego of a fledgling horror writer to have a story accepted by the magazine that had published Stephen King.  In addition, Gordon did a good deal to promote the story in the months leading up to its publication.  It was a little overwhelming; I had started at the top, not expecting to succeed there, and suddenly, I had and there I was.  It’s the reason I advise beginning writers to aim for the heights:  the worst that can happen is that you receive a rejection letter, the best is that you find yourself in a position of tremendous advantage.     

7. You've been teaching reading and writing for over fifteen years.  What's your favorite part, least favorite part?

I’ve loved the diversity of students teaching at a public university has brought me into contact with, and I’ve loved having the chance to expose them to a wide variety of literary texts.  As a writer, there’s no surer way to make sure you maintain contact with the classics than by teaching them on a regular basis.  I think I’ve benefited from returning to texts like “A Good Man Is Hard To Find” and Heart of Darkness and The Turn of the Screw as many times as my teaching has made me.

What don’t I like?  Grading can be a bit of a drag, especially when you have a student who hasn’t taken the assignment seriously, and so has wasted their time and yours.   

8. In one interview you discussed that comics are slowly moving in to academia; do you see this as a shift in what is considered literary?

 Well, to split hairs, I see this as a shift in what modes of writing are considered worthy of academic attention; from what I’ve been able to tell, however, there hasn’t been much of a shift in the topics that are considered suitable for academic notice.  What I mean is, a comic such as Art Spiegelman’s Maus, which addresses the Holocaust and the vexed relationship between a father and son, treats subjects that are already considered literary; while a comic such as Eric Powell’s The Goon, which engages the history of pulp fiction conventions in a raucous and innovative fashion, is by and large still deemed beyond the pale.    

9. What's it like being a judge for the Shirley Jackson Awards? What does being a judge entail?

Being a juror for the first three years of the Shirley Jackson award was a great privilege.  No surprise, the job entailed a lot of reading, not just the books that publishers would mail you, but whatever you could seek out that might qualify.  I was quite pleased with the shortlists we arrived at:  if you wanted a cross-section of some of the best horror and dark fiction being written today, you could do a lot worse than use those lists as a guide.

10. You're co-editing a monster anthology called Creatures with another Mourning Goat interviewee, Paul Tremblay.  What's it like working with him; are you working on anything with any other authors right now?

Paul has been a real pleasure to work with; he’s uber-organized, conscientious, and professional.  To the extent that Creatures succeeds, it’s because of the weeks and weeks of hard work that he’s put into it.  At some point in the future, Paul and I are supposed to collaborate on what’s going to be a terrific short story or novelette; Laird Barron and I are also kicking around the idea of doing a story together.

11. In one of your Facebook posts you wrote that your son, David, was waiting to read the beginning of his first chapter book.  Was this a book he wrote, or a book he wanted to read to you? Either way, what are your thoughts on your kids getting into the literary world?

This was a book that David wanted to read to my wife and I; the title escapes me, now, but it had something to do with the labyrinth.  Since that time, though, he has begun work on his own book, The Dictionary of Monsters.  Yes, apples, trees, and all that.  My older son, Nick, has flirted with film-making at various points in his life; in fact, he was the one who shot and edited the trailer for my first novel, House of Windows.  He’s also written several screenplays for a cartoon series that would be great, if only he could find someone to take an interest in it.

On the one hand, there’s no denying the excitement you feel as a parent when your kid is doing what you do; there’s a kind of validation to it that is hard to describe and very gratifying.  On the other hand, kids have to find their own identities, which means that they’re likely going to wind up doing something different than what you do, the same way you chose to do something different from what your parents did.  That said, there’s no doubt that, whatever my boys choose to do, a facility with reading and writing can only help them. 

12. You're a two-time International Horror Guild Award finalist for short fiction and Mr. Gaunt and Other Uneasy Encounters was nominated for the 2009 Bram Stoker Award.  Do you find short fiction easier than novels? Which is your favorite medium to write and why?

Well, short fiction can provide more immediate gratification (relatively speaking) than novel-length projects, both in terms of the speed with which you can finish it and in which it can be published.  Right from the start, though, my work tended towards the longer end of the spectrum, long-novelette/short novella, so moving up to the novel felt like more of a natural progression than it might have had I been writing short short stories.  (Indeed, writing shorter stuff is something I’m still working on.)  At this point, I haven’t completed enough novels to compare writing them to writing stories of any length with any kind of certainty, but I’m a sucker for a good novella.  At about a hundred pages, you have the freedom to develop your characters and the situation confronting them in some depth, but you haven’t completely sacrificed the concision of effect.  

13. I saw that you went to World of Fantasy last year:  what did you think of it? Do you think that these kinds of events are important to aspiring writers?

Since I was completely left off the programming, an omission that wasn’t confirmed until I was standing in the convention hotel, trying to find my name somewhere on the schedule, this past World Fantasy was not among the best I’ve ever attended.  I suppose that extra free time did allow to me to spend a little more time with friends I don’t get to see that often, such as Nick Mamatas, which was good, and to make the acquaintance of a number of writers I knew only through their work, such as Gary Braunbeck, which was also nice.

The usefulness of these events depends, I think, on the individual writer.  I didn’t attend my first convention until I’d had three stories published in F&SF, two of which, as you’ve noted, had been nominated for an award.  As a result, I received a very kind reception from the people I talked to, and found the convention experience, on the whole, an encouraging one.  Had I gone before I had anything published, I’m not sure how I would have felt.  Based on my observations, the genre community tends to be fairly welcoming; however, the younger me, who was even more prone to self-doubt than the older me, might very well have been overwhelmed by meeting real writers who were actually writing, and that might have done me more harm than good.

14. Do you think that making a good horror is about making a monster that you detest as well as sympathize with?

I think good horror is more about making characters with whom the reader will sympathize.  A good monster is nice, but if those it threatens aren’t compelling, then you get a kind of slaughter-fantasy that doesn’t seem particularly interesting to me.  That said, a good monster combined with good characters is pretty hard to beat.

15. You have a facebook page, blog, and twitter account; do you think that social media is important for literature, authors, and the future of the written word?

With a few, Thomas Pynchonesque exceptions, I don’t think you can avoid social media at this point.  Some writers, such as Jeff Vandermeer, have employed it brilliantly to their careers’ advantages; I would not lump myself in with them.  I’m not sure what the implications of social media will be for the future of the written word; to be honest, from what I’ve seen, it strikes me as a danger to a lot of writers, a great time-suck into which a lot of the energy that should be going to your fiction gets drained.  There’s also the danger in presuming that, because you have a certain number of facebook friends, or twitter followers, or what have you, you have achieved something, that whatever flame wars you’ve spearheaded count for something in your life as a writer.  I’m all for people expressing themselves online, and I’ve no doubt a number of worthy conversations have happened there, but fiction writers write fiction.  That’s what they do.  If you’re spending all your time online, you may be doing a lot of things, but writing fiction is not one of them.

16. Your 10 year anniversary is coming up this year (congratulations!):  is your wife your first reader and what's it like being married to a fellow academic?

Thanks!  In many ways, it’s hard to believe it’s been that length of time.  My wife used to be my first reader—actually, it would be more accurate to say she was my first listener:  once I’d written one or two thousand words, I would read it to her, and she would tell me what she thought.  And she was honest, ruthlessly so.  My wife understands narrative mechanics in a more deep and profound way than anyone else I’ve ever met; I probably learned more from the years we spent doing that than I had in all my writing classes up to then.  After our son was born, though, it became much more difficult to maintain that kind of process, and it fell by the wayside; though I still have thoughts of returning to it, someday.

Certainly, the nice thing about being married to a fellow academic is that there’s a level of understanding between the two of us that is deep and immediate; we don’t have to explain or justify things to one another the way we might if we worked very different jobs.  At the same time, our areas of study are sufficiently different for us to preserve some sense of our own identities.

17. What are some of the most recent things you've read-- shorts, novels, whatever--that have knocked your socks off?

This year, I shied away from compiling any kind of “year’s best” list because I’m aware that there’s a great deal of fiction that I either haven’t read yet or that’s slipped completely underneath my radar.  That admission out of the way, the books published this past year that absolutely blew my doors in were Laird Barron’s Occultation and Paul Tremblay’s In the Mean Time, both collections of short fiction.

With his first book, The Imago Sequence (2007), Laird seemed to arrive on the horror scene fully-formed, his plots a demonstration of the continuing vitality of what I guess you could call the cosmic horror tradition, his language a decanting of Cormac McCarthy, Wallace Stevens, and Roger Zelazny.  Occultation consolidates the gains of the previous book while expanding Laird’s range; I’m especially fond of his long stories, “The Broadsword” and “Mysterium Tremendum,” but there isn’t a clunker in the bunch.  Laird could stop writing today and the achievement of his first two books would be sufficient to rank him with the major horror writers of the last century.

Paul’s first collection, Compositions for the Young and Old (2004, rev. 2005), marked him as a writer to watch, and the stories he’s published since that time have shown a learning curve so steep it’s pretty much vertical.  In the last half a dozen, seven years, he’s written stories such as “There’s No Light Between Floors” and “It’s Against the Law to Feed the Ducks” and “The Teacher” that have vaulted him to the forefront of contemporary horror writers.  For a good couple of years, now, I’ve been saying that when Paul’s next collection came out, it was going to be a major event, and there’s no other way to describe In the Mean Time.

I’d also like to mention a collection I’m in the middle of, Livia Llewellyn’s Engines of Desire, which is new this year.  Livia’s stories are a fierce, uncompromising blend of the erotic and the horrifying, and her book is not to be missed. 

18. As I'm sure you know, a lot of our readers are aspiring young writers.  What piece of advice do you wish you received when you started putting words down?

That’s a tough one.  I think it would have been something like, “Read widely and well, but trust the things you love to be sufficient for your ambitions.”

 19. What does your writing routine look like, every day, when the thought hits, morning, night?

I have a small office in the northeast corner of our house, and that’s my preferred place to work.  When I’m engaged in writing a new story or working on a novel, I sit at my desk and do my best to produce at least a new page every day.  Over the last couple of years, I’ve found myself more able to write in other locations—in my class, when my students are critiquing one another’s work, or at the cafĂ© at the base of the building that contains my office—so if I have a decent block of time, I’ll try to use it to continue with whatever I’m working on.

20. You're currently working on your second short story collection and your second novel.  How are things going?  What can you tell us about either/both?

The collection is currently making the rounds at a number of different publishers.  It’s called Technicolor and Other Revelations, and includes eight stories, seven of which have been printed in places like John Joseph Adams’s first Living Dead anthology and Ellen Datlow’s Poe anthology, and one of which is brand new.  I suppose these stories continue the trend I began in my first collection, which is to say, revisiting the central archetypes of horror narrative and seeing what I can do with them.

My second novel has the working title of The Fisherman, and I’m probably about sixty percent done with it.  It’s about a fishing trip to a haunted river.  I hope to have it in to my agent come the beginning of summer.

Thank you, John!


Tuesday, March 1, 2011

#11 Chelsea Cain

20 Questions with Mourning Goats

Chelsea is awesome. Period. When I read the advanced readers copy of Heartsick, years ago, I couldn't shake the physical descriptions that she described, and now, she's only getting better at making me cringe. Please go pick up her new book, The Night Season (out today), and enjoy the interview!

1. What comes to mind when you hear, "Mourning Goats?"

Sad goats.  Specifically, the goat I had as a kid.  Her name was Full Moon and I was weaned on her milk.  I loved that goat.  She got old and sick and my mother wanted to put her out of her misery, so she hired someone to do it.  He came by when we weren’t home and shot Full Moon in the head with a shotgun.  We came home and she was just lying there dead in her pen.  My mother felt terrible about that.   Big guilt.  I don’t remember it.  I’m not sure if I didn’t see her, or if I just blocked it out.  I was in my early twenties by the time my mom finally told me the story.  She still felt terrible, after all those years.  They buried her in the yard at that house.  I went by there about a year ago and they had torn down the old farmhouse and built a mcmansion.  But somewhere underneath it all are the bones of my old goat. 

2. Fellow Mourning Goats interviewee, Monica Drake, is in a writing workshop with you and Chuck Palahniuk, what are your thoughts on this? Do you think being in a group like this has been a big part of your success?

It certainly helped me with the first book – Heartsick.  When I joined the group, I was about 180 pages into Heartsick and I spent a year bringing it in a chapter at a time and rewriting it.  I knew nothing about how to write fiction.  And that group was like taking a master class.  They are all so incredibly smart about writing, and gifted at different aspects of the craft.  Of course we are also all nuts, so I think it’s good that we all have somewhere we can go once a week to remind ourselves that we are not alone, and to keep us off the streets so we don’t hurt ourselves.  I’ve been in writing groups before and personally I find them really useful.  But it depends on you, and it depends on who’s in your group.  Find people who make a living writing.  Ideally people who have MFAs, and know stuff.  People who are serious about it.  And meet on neutral ground.  Don’t meet at someone’s house.  Meet at an office.  Find a room at a library.  Meet every week.  And if it’s the wrong group, disband and find another one.  Eventually, you will find your people.     

3. What was it like going to number 8 on the New York Times bestseller list with Heartsick? As great as it must have been, was it stressful in any way?

That was up there with the birth of my daughter as a Best Life Moment.  Okay, it was better than the birth of my daughter.  That is probably a terrible thing to say – but it’s totally true.  I was in San Francisco, and my publisher and editor called me from a bar in New York where they were already celebrating.  There was lots of shouting.  I wanted to go right out and get a tattoo.  One, to commemorate the event, and two, because I figured that for the rest of my life people would ask me what I had the number 8 tattooed on my bicep, and that would be an excuse to tell them that I was a NEW YORK TIMES BEST SELLING AUTHOR, THANKS FOR ASKING.  That night I did a reading in S.F., and no one came.  Not a single person!  Maybe if I’d gone through with the tattoo…

4. I saw you were thinking about giving out personalized floaty pens on your next book tour, have you done anything like this in the past? How did it go?

I’ve given out all sorts of stuff.  “I ‘heart’ Archie/Gretchen” buttons.  Severed fingers.  Severed hands and feet.  Rhinestone heart pins.  Jelly-filled people-shaped donuts with pretzel stabbed in them.  Temporary tattoos.  I’m always looking for novelty items to give away.  I guess I’m trying to make my readings an event.  A show.  On my last tour, I got friends to write murder ballads about Gretchen and perform them at a few of my readings.  There are so many authors and so many readings and so many bookstores, it just feels like anything extra helps.  If I could tap dance, I would. 

5. How does one write humor for The Oregonian, reviews for New York Times, AND horror that leaves the reader in physical pain?

Horror and farce aren’t so different in terms of structure.  It’s all about tension and reveal, timing, and the unexpected.  People are always so surprised to discover that I’m funny.  But I think my thrillers are funny.  Dark.  But funny.  And I think it’s important in a tense and nail-biting narrative to give the reader a break.  Maybe not a belly laugh—but the occasional wry smile.  Or at least a fleeting smirk.
6. I love the story on your website about wanting to be a firedog as a little girl, I think we all had big dreams as children, were your parents very supportive of the firedog? Being a writer?

My parents told me that I could be anything I wanted.  And I swear to you, I really believed that I could be a fire dog.  I was four or five by the time I realized that it was pretty much an impossibility to will oneself into becoming a Dalmatian.  I guess my parents didn’t want to limit my potential.  The only pressure I felt about what to do when I grew up was that I should choose something that would make me happy.  My mother thought I should be a stand-up comedian.  (I don’t know where she got this – because I was not a funny kid at all.)  The only time my dad ever seemed disappointed in me professionally was when I called him up at a low point and told him I wanted to go to law school.  By the time we got off the phone he had talked me out of it.

7. I read about the tattoo on your right shoulder, can you tell the readers what it is and what it means?

I have two tattoos.  I think you’re talking about the one on my left bicep.  It’s a tattoo of a snake.  Snakes are my one irrational fear, and I thought that by tattooing one on my arm, I could claim the fear and conquer it.  It didn’t work, but it’s a nice tattoo. 

8. Which is scarier and why? The worlds that you come up with in your writing, or dropping your little girl off at kindergarten for the first time?

Oh, God – Kindergarten.  A friend once told me that dropping your kid off for the first day of kindergarten was like throwing a puppy out the window of a moving car onto the highway.  I think that’s a pretty apt description. 

9. The advanced readers copy of Heartsick is beautiful, it's a white cover with a bloody hand smudge grabbing the book, what happened to that cover? Did you love it? Maybe this can be transferred to the movie poster?

Thanks!  That is a great galley.  They thought it was too gory for the general public.  But there’s a Japanese edition of Heartsick that used the design.  It’s tiny and square and completely cute in that particular Japanese way, and yet also blood spattered and disturbed.  Naturally, I love it.  

10. I read in an interview that you were planning on continuing to write humor books, under a pseudonym, can you give us any info on this? Are you working on anything?

I’d like to do one in the future at some point.  I miss those books.  I loved the collaboration with the illustrator.  Writing is such a solitary gig.  There’s interaction.  You work with an agent, an editor, marketing people, and then when it’s out in the world, there are readers and media people.  But mostly it’s you pulling threads of ideas out your nose and trying to knit something out of them.  I love working with an illustrator throughout the creative process.  We inspire one another.  There’s an energy to that that is absolutely thrilling.  As soon as I think of an idea—and find three months of free time—I’ll get right on that.   

11. You wrote your first book, Dharma Girl, and got it published in your early twenties, what do you feel has changed the most in your writing since then?

My advance for Dharma Girl was $1000.  My advances now have a lot more zeros.  It’s just completely different.  My whole approach is different.  I am part of something much larger, and there is more pressure, and I feel more responsibility.  This is my career, not a side project.  I wrote Dharma Girl by instinct.  It’s all gut.  I am much more purposeful and thoughtful about my writing now.  I guess that comes with practice.  Along with bad eyesight and cynicism. 

12. Again, with Dharma Girl, you say on your website that it is your favorite, why?

Dharma Girl is the story of my return to the hippie commune where I spent my early childhood.  It is the book that was burning to get out.  It’s youthful and intuitive and reckless and raw, but it will always be my favorite. It’s the book I had in me – the story I had to tell.  And it’s such a valentine to my parents and to my early childhood and to my mom (who died a few months before it was published).  It’s not my best book.  But it has a huge place in my heart. 

13. I don't like how everyone focuses around you being a woman (men and women can be equally sick in my mind), what are your thoughts on this kind of attention?

It baffles me.  Just last week a woman approached me at an event and asked me, “How can you write these books, as a woman?”  She was smiling, just making conversation.  But I was completely blind-sided.  It’s like asking someone how he can be a doctor as a redhead.  It doesn’t compute to me.  I think of myself as a thriller writer, not a female thriller writer.   

14. For all of our aspiring authors out there, what advice would you give them on writing? What do you wish someone told you when you started out in this career?

My most sage advice is the trickiest: you will never make a living writing, until you learn to write when you don’t want to. 

15. Thank you for giving your readers permission to laugh at your books! I think some of the subject matter is so scary and disgusting that laughter is the only thing that makes it okay. What's one of the sickest or most disgusting things you've written that you laughed at?

I’ve always thought that pulling someone’s small intestine out with a crochet hook was pretty funny. 

16. Which was more of an influence in starting this series, the Green River Killer or the hormones of pregnancy? I've read you comment on both in other interviews.

I couldn’t have written Heartsick without the influence of both. 

17. What have your tours been like? Are there a lot of interesting fans? Any scary stories?

I’m sort of disappointed at the normalcy and sweetness of my fans.  I expected more mouth breathers carrying axes.  But the vast majority of my readers are quite upstanding.  I do get the occasional creepy email or letter from people who like my books for, shall we say, the wrong reasons.   

18. I read an interview from the early 2000's and it seems like you never saw these books coming, was writing this series out of left field for you? A happy accident?

That first book was out of left field.  I’d always loved reading thrillers and watching cop shows on TV.  I had that idea for the first book, and halfway through writing it, I came up with the idea of writing a series because I had so many ideas for the characters and didn’t want to cram everything into one novel.  But I had no idea how huge they would be.  I still pinch myself.  I am covered with bruises from all the pinching.   

19. What's next for Chelsea Cain? Can you tell us anything about your next project?

The Night Season (book four in the series) comes out March 1, and I’m working on book five.   Gretchen moves off stage for most of The Night Season, so Archie and Susan and Henry have some room to grow as characters.  There’s a new serial killer on the loose, and Portland is threatened by massive flooding.  There is so much water in this book that I had to start looking up synonyms.  I ran out of ways to describe wet.  It’s a good old-fashioned heart-stopper of a thriller.  Less gore, and more action.  Lots of fun to write.  It’s also a good entry point to the series.  I wanted to write a book that people could read without having to read all the other books leading up to it.  But that would still be satisfying to loyal readers of the series.  Is that convincing enough?  Have you ordered a copy?   Please order a copy.  I’ll tap dance…

20. Heartsick, Sweetheart, and Evil at Heart are your last three novels, are you going to miss heart in the title of your new book, due in March, The Night Season?

Not at all.  I have a list of hundreds of heart titles they are each sillier than the last.  I’m excited to have some freedom.  Talk to me in a few books.  I’ll be back to “Heartburn.”

Thank you Chelsea!

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