Today we have with us Rachel Caine, a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author who calls Texas home. She’s written more than fifty novels, and she has been published in more than twenty languages around the world.
Her newest novel, Ash and Quill, hits shelves on July 11! To celebrate her upcoming release, we’ve had the pleasure of asking her a few questions.
BubbleLife: Did you always know you wanted to publish a novel?
Caine: I didn't! I was a Very Serious Musician all through college and for about 5 years out of college, although I wrote for fun. It wasn't until I'd met some other writers and gotten real encouragement that I decided to try pursuing publication. I still kept my "day job" for fifteen years while publishing novels on a regular basis, too; it took me a long time to feel comfortable thinking of my primary job as being a writer.
BubbleLife: Why did you decide to use a pseudonym?
Caine: The answer is actually very practical. When you sell books via traditional publishing houses, they need to have good confidence that the book will sell out to the public and make back their investment in you, the author. I've reached a couple of times in my career a crossroad where my books didn't sell, and had to reinvent myself to make it more possible. (I'll be talking about this theme at this May's DFW Writers Conference, May 6-7!) But being flexible about your author identity is part of that process.
BubbleLife: If you could tell your younger self anything about writing, what would it be?
Caine: I'd tell myself that the work never stops, and that's a good thing: every book is a new challenge, a new learning experience. There aren't many jobs in life that don't fall into a boring routine, but writing is definitely something that is constantly shifting, challenging, and changing. There's no point at which you have "arrived" because the road is always ahead of you. I'd definitely tell myself I made the right choice to give up music and pursue this calling.
BubbleLife: Do you often have to do research when writing your books?
Caine: I constantly research. I have an enormous library of research material, and every single book brings more to light that I don't know enough about to write it convincingly. I'd urge writers that Internet research is not enough. Dig deep. Find obscure references and sources. Talk to scholars and librarians. Find original sources. I adore research, and it continues to give me new perspectives and twists on things I thought I knew.
BubbleLife: Do you read your book reviews? If so, how do you deal with the positive and negative feedback?
Caine: I don't generally read the reviews, unless they specifically point out something I feel I need to do better in a future book, because reviews are always highly subjective. What didn't work for one reader works completely for another. I have to make my best judgment about things ... but having said that, I do listen when people tell me I got something wrong, or need to do better in the future. As far as positive feedback, it's great fuel, but you have to be careful not to overdose on it. I don't seek out positive reviews any more than I seek out negative ones. If someone flags a review for me that I need to see, then I read it. Mostly, I'm focused on the challenge of taking what I've learned and moving it forward.
BubbleLife: Do you believe in writer's block?
Caine: No. There are legitimate reasons a writer has to go idle ... illness, whether physical or caused by less obvious things like depression, are very valid, and would be just as valid in any job in the world. But when we talk about a "block," we're externalizing an internal problem. Sometimes that problem can be solved by taking a vacation for a week, and coming back fresh. Sometimes it's the wrong idea, or worked on in the wrong way. BubbleLife: But regardless, if the story isn't coming, change what you're doing and try again. As the writer, you control the problem and the solution. You are the block.
BubbleLife: Do you ever base your characters off of real people?
Caine: I did a few back in the beginning, but I don't any more. I like constructing a person from scratch, giving them all the flaws and gifts that they'll need for the story. I'm not saying it's bad, just that it's not something that appeals particularly to me.
BubbleLife: Do you ever regret giving up your career as a musician to be a writer?
Caine: I don't, really. I miss playing music, and if there were 48 hours in a day, I might still do both ... but I had to make a choice, and I think I made the right one. Still love listening to music, and supporting other artists, though!
BubbleLife: What advice would you give to other aspiring writers?
Caine: Write what you love. There's a story that speaks loudly to you, that engages your brain and your heart. It's something you can't stay away from, and love to sit down and immerse yourself in ... and that's where you should base yourself. Passion means better work. And passion will keep you going through the rough patches, when it feels like you just can't make it to the end. Most of all, though: keep going. If you want to have a writing career, that means having a process that continues to create. Don't let yourself get caught up in what you've already done. Always move forward and look forward.
BubbleLife: What's your favorite part about living and writing in Texas?
Caine: Texas is full of great creative people, and that's one of my very favorite things about it--we have a vibrant, diverse community of authors, fantastic libraries and teachers, great bookstores, wonderful conferences, and a ton of passionate readers. I like the vastness of Texas, and the diversity of it--in people, in climates, in landscapes. I like the pace of Texas urban life. Bonus: we have great arts, and great food.
Be sure to check out Caine’s new novel, as well as her other popular works! For more information on her, you can check out her website or Twitter page.