Okay, can I have a quick fangirl moment here? … Okay, thanks. If you’re looking for the book club, for this week only it’s moving to Friday.
Those of you who’ve been reading Preternatura for a while know we’re all big fans of the Hollows series around here, so it’s a huge pleasure for me to welcome author Kim Harrison to the blog today. Her new collection of stories, Into the Woods: Tales from the Hollows and Beyond, came out yesterday with HarperCollins, and I can’t wait to dig in! You can win a copy for yourself as well, so read on…
Welcome, Kim! As a big Hollows fan, I’m excited about this collection of stories. How is the experience of writing novellas and short stories in your Hollows world different from crafting a novel?
Thank you, Suzanne! I’m so glad you’re enjoying the Hollows. Every writer tackles novels, novellas, and short stories in their own way, but for me, it all starts out the same–with a pencil and unlined paper. Short stories need just as much thought, if not more, in the crafting, but unlike novels, we get to see if our plotting holds true to the end a lot faster. Most of the new material in Into The Woods is not based on the Hollows mythology, and therefore required new magic systems and characters. Though that’s where a lot of the satisfaction comes from, it does take a lot of prep time. With the Hollows based stories, the difficulty lies in making sure I hold to established rules and more importantly, mesh the emotions with what had come before.
Do the stories take place in defined time periods (between certain novels) or need to be read in a certain order? I know there’s a combination of new work and previously published stories.
I’ve tried to arrange the Hollows shorts and novellas in order of the Hollows timeline, but there’s no need to read them sandwiched in among the regular novels. The shorts and novellas are more supplemental to the series, not required reading. I’ve had a lot of people tell me the shorts do answer a few questions, though. There are spoilers if this is the first time you’ve read anything from the Hollows, but it’s a long-running series. It’s going to happen.
And yes, almost half of Into the Woods is new stuff, never seen before. I took the opportunity to develop three long-standing ideas into novella-length work. I might develop them further, or I might not.
Do you have a favorite story in the collection? What might surprise your readers? That’s a hard question. I enjoyed getting into Trent’s head in “Million Dollar Baby,” but being able to develop a new idea into a story comes so rare when you’re locked into a series that I think “Grace” or “Spider Silk” has the potential to be my favorite in the long run. I think Trent’s story will surprise the readers the most. I know it did me!
Your work encompasses adult novels, YA, graphic novels, and short fiction (and let’s not forget the ah-mazing Hollows Insider). Is there a genre or format you haven’t tried that you’d like to? Do you have a favorite?
I will always love the wide-open feel of urban fantasy where it’s acceptable to bring in so many other genres such as mystery, thriller, horror, fantasy, SF, crime-solving, PI, romance, and the like. I think using magic to tell a story resonates strongly in the human experience from when we were telling tales around the fire to now, and I can’t imagine a time when I would write without some sort of supernatural theme.
But having said that, I will probably be writing my next novel with a noticeable different feel. If I can’t continue to grow as a writer, then what’s the point?
Not so much anymore, no. I think it was a shock when it first happened as a lot of my readers then were coming from the romance shelves. Now, a lot of my new readers now are coming from a more mainstream readership where it’s acceptable to kill off a main love interest, and those still joining us from the romance shelves are being warned even as their friends introduce them to the Hollows.
Ever After, Hollows #11, comes out in January. I’ve heard the series will end at either twelve or thirteen. How long have you known how the series would play out?
I’ve known for a while how I wanted to end the series, and for a long time, I thought that would be at twelve. It’s only been recently that I stumbled onto a concept that I wanted to explore enough to pull me into that thirteenth book. We’ll see that new idea in book twelve, and the ending to the series remains pretty much the same. I’m doing the rough draft for thirteen right now, actually, though it won’t be out until 2015. I like working far ahead of my schedule.
Has the world of the Hollows grown larger and more complex than you initially envisioned it, or did you do all the world building beforehand?
Holy cow, it’s definitely grown larger than I had intended when I wrote Dead Witch Walking. Back then, a three-book series was all I was hoping for. I did not do the world building ahead of time, and I wish I had taken better notes. What helps keep it looking smooth is partially due to me being able to work ahead of my schedule, but mostly it’s because I tend to spend a book developing the vampires, and the next on the Weres, and the third on the demons, and so on. My formal studies are in the sciences, and I try to keep the magic systems as logical as I can mostly so I can remember them better.
What’s the hardest thing about writing a long series over a period of several years? The easiest thing?
For me, the hardest thing about writing a long series beyond trying to keep the rules straight is allowing your characters to grow in a logical way and still keep coming up with new challenges for that character to surmount. The temptation to do something wild, such as make a character suddenly become a new species or unfold a surprise in the past that causes the character to respond is easy. Much harder is to look at what happened in the previous book and extrapolate forward into a new complication stemming from it. Oh, you can still do those wild, exciting things, but it’s far more difficult and effective to have them arise naturally from other complications, not the other way around.
The easiest thing is that when done right, you know your character inside and out. Having the emotions and personality down allows everything to flow.
Do you have a favorite character? Do you ever get tired of your characters? My favorite character changes from story arc to story arc. Rachel will always be my favorite, but when I look at the supporting characters, whoever is changing the most is my newest best friend. For a long time, it was Ivy—until she began making better, healthier decisions. Al was my next favorite, and he still holds a close second, but right now I’m working with Trent. He has my ear, so to speak. He’s changing the most, evolving, and that is always attractive to me.
Are you at liberty to talk about what’s next for you? I am, but since I’ve not really had the chance to talk with my editor at length, I don’t want to say much beyond the fact that there will be thirteen books in the Hollows, and after that, I’m on to something new. A few of my ideas for what might come next are showcased in Into the Woods, but what’s dearest to my heart is usually the last thing I share. I already have a new manuscript in my cabinet that makes my eyes light up and my fingers light on the keyboard, and that’s probably what will come after the Hollows. But who knows? If one of the stories in Into the Woods strikes a chord with readers, I would not be adverse to developing it further as well.