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Cover of 'A Fistful of Charms' by Kim Harrison ISBN 0060788194 Shaun Farrell interviews Kim Harrison (New Interview)
Shaun's Quadrant—May 2006

Special thanks to Mysterious Galaxy bookstore for their support of this column. To learn more about their exciting collection of signed first editions, please see our links page.

Kim Harrison returns to the quadrant exactly one year after her first visit! This time the author of Every Which Way but Dead, The Good, the Bad, and the Undead, and Dead Witch Walking discusses her fourth Rachel Morgan novel, A Fistful of Charms, due out this month! Among the topics discussed: the ever-growing problems of Rachel, Kimís novella, Undead in the Garden of Good and Evil, and, of course, music!

Kim will be appearing at Mysterious Galaxy bookstore Tuesday, July 18th at 7 p.m. See our links pages for more about Mysterious Galaxy (many thanks for their continued support), and make sure to stop by and pay Kim a visit.

Shaun Farrell: A Fistful of Charms has Rachel using powers that are somewhat shocking and unexpected, but you do an excellent job showing why she was forced into such actions. How do you think these choices will effect Rachel in books to come?

Kim Harrison: Nothing good, thatís for certain. Rachel hasnít even begun to see the ramifications of her choices. Though she thinks of the future, sheís a very ďnowĒ oriented person. It doesnít help that sheís unaware of her potential and making decisions on that. Itís easy to say, ďIíll go this far and stopĒ if you think that thatís your limit. But if she knew what I do, sheíd probably move back in with her mom and open up a charm shop. As it is, sheís going to keep digging herself in deeper in the long term for those short-term solutions.

SF: Rachelís choices strain her relationships with everyone in her circle throughout the book. Which of these relationships interests you the most?

KH: As much as I plot the books out, I honestly donít know from book to book who is going to end up taking a hit either physically or emotionally. Though I love the other characters impacting Rachel, Ivy and Jenks are the original two, and the three of them together work so well and have such a strong commitment to each other that it is this relationshipóthe one between Rachel, Ivy, and Jenksóthat is my favorite. The interplay between them is complex, tragic, and erotic at timesóbut solid as bedrock. Rachel survives some very dangerous situations, and any other character is likely to walk away when things get tough. But not Ivy. And after leaving them once, not Jenks. And that is why this three-way relationship is my favorite.

SF: A Fistful of Charms brings Nick back into the picture after being absent for most of Every Which Way but Dead. It was really interesting to see his perspective on things and what heís been doing. I think readers will be very pleased with those developments.

KM: I do too. Iíve heard from a lot of readers about Nickís absence, and bringing him back needed to happen. The way Rachel and Nick parted left too many unanswered questions even for me, and I wanted the reader to know unequivocally just what was up with Nick.

SF: Jenksí character arc is also very interesting, and you make some hints that his life may be coming to an end. What can you tell us about Jenksí future?

KH: Ah, Jenks. That short life span of his is an issue that I will be dealing with as the books progress. About all Iím going to say is unless something comes out of the dark and smacks me like a 2X4, Jenks will be around until the end of the series. I have a way already in place for him to live past his normal spanóit just needs to be realized. I canít have a book without Jenks. I just canít do it.

SF: If you could change one thing about Rachel Morgan from your first three books, what would it be?

KH: Change Rachel? Never! I love the way she jumps to conclusions, even when theyíre wrong. I envy the way she lives her life by making decisions with her heart as much as her head. She makes mistakes. She does all she can to fix them. She sees the worst in people, and the best. Strong, vulnerable, and a unique fashion sense. I like Rachel just the way she is.

SF: Last we spoke, you were under contract for six novels, but you were writing as if the series was open-ended. Has you contractual situation changed at all to guarantee more books?

KH: I have been contracted for three more, bringing the total up to nine, which has pleased me to no end. I adore long-term plotting, and Iím looking forward to it.

SF: Each book you write seems to sell better than the previous. Will we see a Kim Harrison hardcover in the future, or perhaps re-issued collectorís editions of your previous books?

KH: The reception the books have gotten has left me both wide-eyed and blinking in astonishment. I never expected them to take off the way they have, and that they are doing so well is a testament to how my editor and the amazing people at EOS/HarperCollins got behind it. As it happens, the next Hollows book after A Fistful of Charms is scheduled for a 2007, hard cover release. You can already find the books in a hard cover format through a UK book club and the SFBC. Links to them are on my website.

SF: Any plans for a book tour for A Fistful of Charms?

KH: Yes! As I write this, the dates/times are still being finalized, but if all goes well, I will be showing up this June and July in Charlotte NC, San Diego, San Francisco, Seattle, Portland, Salt Lake City, and finally Atlanta GA. Iíll be putting the detailed information up on the website as it comes into me.

SF: What is different about the way you approach novel writing now versus when you wrote your first novel?

KH: There is a radical difference in my approach now than during that first novel. One thing that hasnít changed is the depth I become involved in the charactersí lives and the joy I find in sharing them. What has changed is the techniques I use to organize my thoughts and get it all down on paper. I plot a tremendous amount more, now, having four distinct ďvarietiesĒ of plotting, ranging from handwritten ideas thrown down on paper to actually detailing out the entire chapterís dialog before I write it. I no longer work on the weekends at the computer after finding out how easy it is to burn out. Iím a lot more relaxed about it, too, trusting my editor to keep me on track and my agent to keep my busy. Iím still happiest when working, the quiet of the house balancing against the chaos in my head.

SF: What is your writing schedule like?

KH: Mmmm, Iím usually up by 7:00 and at the internet keyboard weeding through my email and answering the posts on the website. It gets me moving/motivated, and by the time Iím done, the caffeine has kicked in. I shift over to the work computer until about eleven, where I take a break, eat something, remember to take a shower, and get dressed. I pop back on to the internet about then, too, answering the gottas and generally procrastinating until I get back to work about noon. Most days I work right through to 6:00 or 7:00, hitting the internet before I call it a day and answering personal email from readers. Itís a harsh schedule when you look at the bare bones of it, but the perks are great: lots of music, lots of snacking, lots of opportunity to procrastinate on the internet under the name of research.

SF: You recently had a novella published in a collection called Dates From Hell. Has your work appeared anywhere else recently?

KH: No it hasnít, but if all goes well, there will be more such short stories/novellas as time goes on.

SF: Tell us about the decision to write an Ivy/Kisten novella for Dates From Hell.

KH: The decision to write about Ivy and Kisten was an easy one, stemming from my mild frustration of having to see Ivy only through Rachelís eyes. The chance to write from Ivyís point of view was irresistible. It allowed me to share more directly to the readers just what kind of demons Ivy is fighting, her hard past, and why she makes the choices she does. Rachel makes decisions about people from how they treat her, not from their history, leaving the past unseen right where it is. I think itís one of the reasons Ivy likes her so much, but it makes it very difficult as a writer to tell Ivyís past, especially when Ivy is afraid that if Rachel knew it, she would leave.

SF: How does your increasing fan base and popularity impact your writing time?

KH: Iíve had to slow down as well as become a lot more efficient with my time. I have pretty much lost my early morning hours to PR work, expecting to spend about 7-10 hours a week on it, including answering posts, updating the website, answering interviews, and such. Iím not complaining. When I saw what was coming, I sat in the corner and shook for a while, then made a decision to devote a portion of my day to the readers so I could remain as active as I reasonably can with them. I do it because I want to. I like talking with them and seeing what theyíre pulling from my work. They are a cool bunch of people.

SF: Has anyone approached you about film and television adaptations of your work?

KH: As it happens, I have been approached a few times about film, and I direct all such inquiries to my agent and promptly put it out of my head. There is a ready-made audience screaming for a kick-butt heroine who is as vulnerable as she is strong, but I wouldnít want anyone touching the Hollows unless they loved the characters. Otherwise, something would be lost.

SF: Your fans know how much you love music. Do you have any favorite bands youíve just discovered?

KH: Yes, yes! Music. That is where my muse lives. Musicians are my heroes, the people I get all fan-girl about and the quickest way to get me babbling. Iíve a lot of respect for music artists. They can do in three minutes what I take five hundred pages to doóand they do it in rhyme. You asked about any favorite bands that Iíve just discovered? Iíve been listening to some Flyleaf lately, and Fiona Apple, finding that Fionaís irony and push-on-regardless lyrics are right in line with Rachelís mindset. But my favorite bands usually touch on the state of society or one personís struggle with their demons: NIN, Offspring, Tool/A Perfect Circle, Garbage, and Godsmack. Maybe some Korn every now and again when Iím writing something really angry.

SF: Kim, is there anything else our readers at Far Sector SFFH should know?

KH: I canít think of anything right now, but I bet I will later. . . . I would like to add that I have an up-to-date website with lots of extra stuff on it ranging from pictures of past signings to Trentís waffle recipe. Iím active on my Yahoo lists, which you can get to from the website. Donít expect me to give out any spoilers or answer any how-to writing questions thereóitís where I go to relax, kick back, and listen to the banter. Iím looking forward to putting some faces to the names this June and July as I get out of my chair and get a signing pen in my hand.

SF: Thank you so much for talking with us again. Hereís to book five!!

KH: Thank you, Shaun, for asking me back in time for the release of A Fistful Of Charms. Itís been wonderful talking with you and your readers.

Text/Interview Copyright © 2005-2006 by Shaun Farrell. All Rights Reserved.

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