LitStack Interview: Kim Harrison

LitStack Interview with Kim Harrisonkim harrison

Kim Harrison, dark urban fantasy author of the New York Times best selling A Perfect Blood, was born and raised in the upper Midwest.  After gaining her bachelors in the sciences, she moved to South Carolina, where she remained until recently returning to Michigan because she missed the snow.  She’s currently developing what comes after the Hollows between working on the Hollows books and a Hollows-based graphic novel. Kim is a member of The Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America.  When not at her desk, she’s most likely to be found landscaping her new/old Victorian home.

We chatted with Kim about the latest installment of her Hollows series, EVER AFTER, (which will be released January 22), true evil and what comes next for her after the Hollows series ends.

Kim, thanks so much for chatting with me. I have to say that the Hollows series never ceases to surprise me and what I love most about it is that you continuously set the bar higher and higher. I never get tired of these characters and your books always leave me desperate for the next installment.  Thanks so much.

It’s my pleasure. I love answering questions as many of my readers know.  And thank you for your kind words. I’m usually just as anxious as you to find out what’s going to happen next. Oh, if only I could write the as fast as you read them.

I listened to the Agony Column Podcast you did last year and found it interesting that you discussed the characters taking over your plot sometimes.  Is this something has still happens?

The characters do seem to take over at times, and those are some of my most frustrating, rewarding days at the keyboard. It’s a bit of a stretch to say that they’re telling me what to write, but my writing style is a fairly equal mix of planned chaos where I allow the story flow to naturally dictate what comes next as long as the motion is toward my original goal. Saying that the characters “made” me do it or “refused to cooperate” is just a way to slide the blame for an unpopular decision—like killing Kisten. (Really! He made me do it!)

I read that you’d initially planned to end the series at twelve. What brought on the thirteenth and final book? (Perfect number to end on, I think)

I think it’s a great number to end with as well. My latest contract had a floater book that allowed for either a Hollows novel or something completely new. Up until book 11, I was sure that the series would end at twelve. I’d promised myself that I wouldn’t cave to fear and write one more book simply to avoid the unknown, but when an idea spoke to me, one that could add a new dimension to the Hollows, I could not resist. The series actually still ends the way I’d envisioned it. Book twelve contains my new idea, not thirteen, and I think it’s one of my more interesting aspects and makes for a more satisfying ending over all.

I have to compliment you on all the companion shorts and various separate point of view stories you’ve released. I particularly enjoyed “Million Dollar Baby” and the Teaser Chapter in Perfect Blood. Both of these, I think, express Trent’s real feelings for Rachel and the internal struggle he faces with those feelings. This is evident in Ever After as well, especially since we see Ellasbeth’s return.  As someone who is a huge fan of Unresolved Sexual Tension, it made me giddy. Would you say that in the final two novels this struggle will be a pretty import plot point?

Thank you! I’m glad you liked them. “Million Dollar Baby” and the teaser chapter rewritten from Trent’s point of view gave me a chance to see things differently, and this along with the recently released short “Trouble on Reserve” has given me more fuel for the Trent/Rachel romance. If not for them, things might not have progressed as fast as they did in book twelve. We will see a lot more sexual tension between Trent and Rachel in the last two books, but I’m not making the romance the crux of the books, simply the spice that makes everything taste better.

Into the Woods was a brilliant treat for not only fans of the Hollows series, but fans of your writing in general. One of my favorites was “Two Ghosts for Sister Rachel” because it exhibited Rachel’s early leanings toward proving herself and the bond she has with her brother. Will Robbie reemerge in the final novels of the series and will he ever be comfortable with her chosen career path?

I’m so glad you liked Into the Woods. Thank you. I had a great time working on the 300 plus new pages for it, and getting all the previously released shorts in one spot was great on the part of my publisher.  Unfortunately, as much as I like Robbie, I will probably not be bringing him back into the story line. With only a few more books to go, I’m focused on tying off threads, not expanding on them, and Robbie feels pretty settled to me. I think he will continue to ignore what he can’t accept and love her as every big brother should.

In one of our previous chats, you mention that if anyone deserved their comeuppance, it was Nick. Karma certainly comes back to him in Ever After, but is this his “final justice” or will you have more in store for him?

Ahhh, Nick. My little karma magnet. Nick is one of those characters that I’d be glad to kill off, but every time I think I’ve successfully taken him out, he slips the noose, necessitating me to bring him back again for one more try. I’m not really happy with how things ended with Nick, but I will again bow to the needs of the story and write something that is not entirely happy, but true to the characters. I don’t want to see him again, but I do believe I need to say a few words before I can close that particular thread out for good.

Can you talk about what happened with the CW show based on the series? What did you learn from that experience and would you still be up for selling the film rights?

You bet! CW was very excited about taking the Hollows on and purchased the rights to the series for immediate development. One of the few things I asked of my agent was that no deal be struck unless it was going to be acted upon, and when CW failed to move into a solid pilot and disinterest evolved, the rights reverted quickly back to me. I’m still eager to see the Hollows on the big or small screen, but I’m not surprised that the Hollows was dropped. The Hollows isn’t easy. The mythologies are science based and complex, and the characters are well balanced against each other. It would be time consuming to rip half the characters out and twist the rest to get a well balanced cast.

Many of the villains you’ve set Rachel against have evolved into individuals she understands and, in many cases, individuals she’s had to rely on for her survival. Which “Big Bad Ugly” would you consider to be the true villain in the series?

The truly evil people I’ve met in real life are few, and this is reflected in my work. Ku’Sox is the personification of unredeemable evil, and he will remain so even as Rachel begins to understand him better. He doesn’t want to change, sees nothing wrong in the ugliness he does, and that, to me, is true madness.

Having said that, I’d like to point out that conquering ultimate evil isn’t the point to the books and never has been. (Which might be why my bad guys have a tendency to take on new, much more interesting roles.) The story has always been about Rachel understanding herself and her place in the world, and that is what we get by that thirteenth book.

I read that the manuscript for your next series is written. Can you tell us anything about the new series?

Yes. I like working far ahead of my schedule, but this is a little ridiculous even for me. However it does make for a much more relaxed, enjoyable last Rachel book as much of the stress of “can I make lighting strike twice” has been eased. I like Peri. I like her a lot. With her, I took several ideas and a concept that I’ve been playing with on and off for the last ten years or so and mashed it all together with a new writing style that should appeal to my urban fantasy readers and hopefully some more mainstream readers as well.

I’m going to miss the Hollows, but I need to break from it to stretch my writing into a new area. I want to develop a new set of tools to tell a good story.

Finally, since you made me wait until the last scene for the smooching I wanted to see, I have to ask; will we see more of this behavior in the final novels or are my hopes for Rachel’s HEA all in vain?

(Sorry, had to ask!)

Yep. As I’ve said before, the romance is there for tension, not to carry the story, so unless it gets cut in the editorial rewrite, we’re going to get some real action before the last book. Bringing it in too soon felt false to me, as if the characters themselves wouldn’t have moved that fast, but after that last chapter in EVER AFTER, I think the door is open for some real romance.

 

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