Carrie Vaughn is joining us today to talk about her short fiction collection, Kitty’s Mix-Tape. Here’s the publisher’s description:
The final installment of the bestselling Kitty Norville series showcases the paranormal escapades of Carrie Vaughn’s fan-favorite werewolf talk-show host. This engaging short fiction collection—with its own soundtrack for each tale—is sure to delight both existing Kitty fans and anyone who enjoys urban fantasy at its grittiest and best.
Kitty Norville still can’t stay away from trouble—of the supernatural kind.
Everyone’s favorite werewolf DJ is here to mix it up just one last time. Here you will find, or will be lucky to newly discover, the irrepressible Kitty Norville with friends and enemies alike: Rick the vampire; Jessi Hardin, paranormal detective; Kitty’s werewolf husband Ben; Cormac, the bounty hunter; and the ever-villainous Dux Bellorum. These irresistible tales are full of unpredictable twists and turns: lupines experimenting with astronomy, a cheating boxer with preternatural strength, vampires arriving from the Philippines.
As a special treat, author Carrie Vaughn (Bannerless) has provided her own selections for a mix-tape: Story notes and songs dedicated to each tale. Whatever you do, don’t miss Kitty before she is gone.
What’s Carrie’s favorite bit?
How do I pick a favorite bit from a book that builds on a fourteen novel series, a previous short story collection, and something like twenty years of dealing with these characters and their world?
Let me think about this a minute.
Kitty’s Mix-Tape collects the short stories I’ve written set in the world of my Kitty Norville urban fantasy series since about 2010. Kitty is a werewolf who hosts a talk radio advice show for supernatural creatures, and she manages to get into a lot of adventures and trouble. I used short stories to explore the backgrounds of supporting characters and ideas that just didn’t fit in the novels.
The entire Kitty series riffs on tropes to one degree or another. Werewolf tropes, vampire tropes, talk radio tropes. Structural tropes, like a screwball comedy set in Las Vegas, or the cabin-in-the-woods horror story. If you want to know where I get my ideas, it’s often from just asking the question: what can I do with that trope? What spin, what ironic twist, what bit of commentary can I add to it? I get a lot of material out of asking those questions.
Kitty’s Mix-Tape has four brand-new original stories, and writing them meant getting to revisit Kitty’s world and find some new tropes to play with. I got to ask, what haven’t I done yet? What do I want to do? What can I write that takes a familiar trope and makes it feel new, or offers some insight?
The brand-new, opening story of the collection? I send Kitty to her 10 year high school reunion. Werewolves, vampires, high school reunions, oh yes. This is what I love about urban fantasy: the chance to smash disparate tropes together in way that we maybe haven’t been seen before.
This story is kind of a microcosm of what I was trying to do with the whole series: create a satisfying example of this kind of story, while also offering commentary on this kind of story. Walking a knife edge between earnestness and satire. Have my cake and eat it, too.
True story: I actually started writing a version of this one almost twenty years ago, when I went to my own 10 year high school reunion in 2001. My biggest takeaway was that it was nothing like the high school reunions I’d seen in movies (Michelle and Romy’s High School Reunion and Grosse Point Blank had both come out just a few years earlier.) There were no old scores to settle, no old rivalries or romances that needed clearing up. There were just a bunch of people who’d gone from awkward late-adolescence to actual adulthood, all staring at each other like we were shocked we’d actually made it this far. I wanted to get that in a story somehow. That version never quite worked, but I pulled out the draft, put Kitty in the lead role, and added some comedy. Went ahead and made the commentary overt, adding references to Grosse Point Blank and John Hughes films. Why the heck not? Mythologies around the American high school experience are entrenched and there’s no sense pretending they’re not. Why not pull those mythologies out and make ’em dance?
The story’s title is “Kitty Walks on By, Calls Your Name,” a riff on the Simple Minds’ song that is best remembered from the closing credits of The Breakfast Club, the ultimate high school angst film. I expected an editor to make me change that at some point, but no one did! Ha!
So I could say my favorite bit of Kitty’s Mix-Tape is that I got to put all these high school reunion and angst references into this one story and nobody stopped me. But my actual favorite bit is what you’ll find throughout the collection, and throughout the entire Kitty series: all the tropes I get to play with, the twists I get to put on them, and the absolute fun I have doing it.
Carrie Vaughn‘s work includes the Philip K. Dick Award-winning novel Bannerless, the New York Times Bestselling Kitty Norville urban fantasy series, over twenty novels, and upwards of 100 short stories, two of which have been finalists for the Hugo Award. She’s a contributor to the Wild Cards series of shared world superhero books edited by George R. R. Martin and a graduate of the Odyssey Fantasy Writing Workshop. An Air Force brat, she survived her nomadic childhood and managed to put down roots in Boulder, Colorado. Visit her at www.carrievaughn.com.