6 Questions with Kat Richardson

1. On a scale of one to ten, rank your current level of insanity–where ten is belongs-in-lunatic-asylum insane–and tell us why.

Since I’m currently writing, it’s about… 8. Not quite needing drugs. Usually it’s more like 6-7: “charmingly nuts” to “a bit on the bizarre side.” I get pretty isolated while I’m in the intense writing mode and the combination of living in the characters’ heads, trying to problem-solve on the fly, getting grumpy from lack of human contact, and hating to have to do all the other chores on top of that makes me snappish and unpredictable–with bouts of paranoia and neediness punctuated with babbling. Not to mention “teh lazy.”

2. Is it just me or is Seattle looking like a popular place to set urban fantasy fiction?

Not just you. I saw a couple of reviewers note the trend and I think there’s something to it–the same thing that kind of kicked off my own thought processes to create the “Harperverse”: this place is nuts. Let’s face it, the combination of odd, cold, often misty weather with weird streets, old to eclectic architecture, funky history, and a population that tends to the… umm… eccentric set among geography that tends to isolate people into contained populations is bound to breed some weirdness. I think the local writers just expand on the natural surreality of the place. Gotta love a town with a troll under the Highway 99 overpass. Must have some affection for a state with towns called Cosmopolis, Moxee, Sequim (pronounced “skwim”), and Vader.

3. Many authors choose to create their own supernatural creatures. Others stick to the tried and true. Last but not least, there are those who mix it all up. Where do Greywalkers come in?

That’s all right. I’m a mixer-upper. I made up the Grey and Greywalkers, but there’s always been stories about people with the ability to talk to the dead or see what others can’t, so it’s not totally original core material. It’s just the spin I chose to put on it that’s different–I hope. I like to look at legends and myths and extrapolate out from there, but I do “just make it up” sometimes, too.

Hey, I’m an author–“making it up” is my bread and butter. You know what Lawrence Block said: “Telling Lies for Fun and Profit!”

4. It’s a little urban fantasy, it’s a little science fiction, and why not throw a little mystery as well?

I read everything and I don’t see a point in trying to keep all my faves separated, so it wasn’t strange to me to blender them all up. Oddly, it was the mystery I really wanted in the first place. The rest snuck in while my back was turned and ran amok. I just started out to write about a detective who worked for ghosts and things just took off from there. I like mysteries–they have a nice structure that adapts to all kinds of settings, characters, genre conventions, flights of fancy and insanity, and whatever you have to throw in there. Good kitchen sink stuff.

5. What do you love and hate most about living on a boat?

I love the freedom to leave a place and take my home with me. I like going places and seeing stuff, but I don’t always want to live out of a suitcase. What I hate is the cold, wet conditions in the winter and the mildew. I’d love to spend the winter in Costa Rica or some place like that. With cabana boys and drinks with little paper hats!

6. Why is it that so many writers have cats?

I figure it’s so the writers have something to act as companion that doesn’t really demand a lot of their attention–and washes its own socks. Cats are independent cusses and though they may be affection fiends sometimes, it’s never for very long before they want to go lie in _that_ bit of sunshine over there and not be bothered with the silly human any more. Kind of like writers themselves.

Except for my cat who’s 19 this year and has become a loud, demanding old bastard. But that’s OK–the ferrets keep him in his place.

Kat Richardson blogs and her current release is Poltergeist, to be followed in a year’s time by Underground.

Now for something a little different. Kat’s giving away a copy of Poltergeist, or Greywalker if you haven’t read it. To enter the drawing, discuss:

It’s kind of amusing to me that when the topic of Urban Fantasy comes up the first name on people’s lips is Laurell K. Hamilton and everyone else is classed as an “emulator” or “imitator” of hers. That’s unfortunate since it not only assumes we all write like Hamilton–which we plainly don’t–but it doesn’t give due credit to the people who cracked the niche open ahead of Hamilton: Mercedes Lackey, Charles de Lint, Tanya Huff, Diane Duane, Will Shetterly, and Emma Bull. Urban Fantasy doesn’t require that the story feature a gun-totin grrl who has sex with vampires, only that there be a realistic modern setting in which fantasy–usually the darker parts–is a major element of plot with some mystery and or romantic threads to give the stories structure over a long arc.

16 Responses to “6 Questions with Kat Richardson”

  1. August 1, 2007 at 7:59 am

    I’m not sure where I would classify the present LKH, but I don’t think urban fantasy’s it.

    I recently read an interesting take on how urban fantasy’s come to mean only a certain type of urban fantasy and not the genre as a whole. Namely the kind written by the authors you’ve named, and some newer voices in the genre who’ve managed to capture a similar type of feel in their books.

    I’ll admit that my personal definition of urban fantasy’s probably what the poster/blogger/commenter (sorry, can’t remember who) was talking about, because my definition of UF is first and foremost about feel. It’s like porn: I know it when I see it, and I can tell from the first page whether it’s UF or something else right from the first page.

    So I’m curious, what do people consider as not not UF, but is pubbed as UF?

  2. August 1, 2007 at 1:37 pm

    Urban fantasy…mmm…not sure if I would really say LKH is the pioneer. But when I think UF I think Buffy. Just because so many UF has strong heroines. But let’s not forget Jim Butcher, who writes one of the best UF series I’ve ever read.

  3. August 1, 2007 at 1:45 pm

    I rarely compare urban fantasy to Laurell K. Hamilton, though I do think of her as one of the first to make the genre popular to a wide audience. But oddly, I now that I think of it, I don’t think of her as urban fantasy so much as I do as paranormal fiction. Hmm, I never realized I made that distinction about her in my mind. I wonder if it’s like May and it doesn’t “feel” like it to me?

    When I think of urban fantasy, I think of Kelley Armstrong (Bitten still remains one of my favorite books), Kim Harrison, Keri Arthur (hmm, K authors seem to rock the urban fantasy genre 😉 )

    One of the most interesting questions I’ve heard posed about urban fantasy is wondering if it has to be first person. Because almost all the urban fantasy I can name IS first person.

  4. August 1, 2007 at 4:25 pm

    I’m not sure but I have a question. Given the ‘urban’ part of ‘urban fantasy’, what would you call a modern-setting story involving fantasty stuff, but not in a city? I could see ghosts on a farm just being called horror, or werewolves in suburbia for that matter. I think this has to do with the “feel” as everyone says… and also the voice, which touches on that first person thing. A girl on a farm with a ghost problem will -not- sound like the gun-totin’ grrl who kills vampires in Vegas. I think she could still be interesting, but I don’t know that I’d want her story first person.

    My take on most genres is they’re mostly a marketing convention and while there are major requirements (urban fantasy = modern setting, fantastical elements) the rest is pretty loose. That’s just me though.

  5. August 1, 2007 at 8:28 pm

    Here’s the thing, Angie, I wouldn’t put Kim Harrison down as UF. I just don’t. (It’s true that I don’t enjoy KH’s books very much, but I don’t especially like Kelley Armstrong or Keri Arthur even though they are both UF for me.)

    Jess, I think the urban part is beginning to matter less and less. I’ve recently read one set in suburban Ohio, and it is undeniably UF, at least for me.

  6. August 1, 2007 at 10:46 pm

    Call me old school but the urban fantasy genre is fairly new and I can think of one author who wrote amazing urban fantasy before it was a genre.
    Anne Rice
    I think urban fantasy I think, urban setting with fantastical aspects. Which is fairly broad, but so is the romance genere.
    The lines in genre are blurred in a lot of books but for urban fantasy I think it has to have a darker tone or edge. I wouldn’t have classified the Sookie Stackhouse novels as urban fantasy before due to the edge of darkness missing, but after the last novel I think it definitely fits the bill.
    A lot of rambling and my two cents.

  7. August 2, 2007 at 4:01 pm

    I’m adding another vote to those that have been cast for LKH not being a writer I think of when I think urban fantasy. I think urban fantasy involves magic/and other aspects that are fantastic but happens in real cities. I think that lately I’ve seen it being categorized as dark fantasy, too. I really like Ilona Andrews, Keri Arthur, Vicki Peterson and Karen Chance in the

  8. 8 Cherie J
    August 2, 2007 at 6:36 pm

    I definitely don’t consider LKH the pioneer. I cut my teeth on Charles De Lint an Mercedes Lackey and I feel writers like them deserve that credit.

  9. August 2, 2007 at 6:53 pm

    The first half of this post by Karen Duvall might interest you: http://karenduvall.blogspot.com/2007/08/werewolf-next-door.html

  10. 10 Victoria
    August 4, 2007 at 4:10 am

    When I think of UF classification, I always think of Mercedes Lackey and Tanya Huff. The ladies have penned some great stories. LKH is a very good writer, too, just in a different way, with different subjects. She just happens to be the most widely read, at the moment. All of the authors that were mentioned are very talented, but everyone has their own preference.

  11. 11 Sue A.
    August 4, 2007 at 4:16 am

    I wasn’t quite sure I’d read what is being labelled UF until you I saw Tanya Huff listed. I guess she wrote the Blood series before the label was created, because when I read her books they where found in the Sci Fi section. I guess she was ahead of her time!

  12. August 4, 2007 at 12:02 pm

    I think the early LKH I’d classify as UF, but her more recent stuff, seems to me, to be less about the plot and more about the relationships and sex.

    For me UF takes a fantasy staple – vampire, werewolf, fairy, elf – and places it in a modern setting. The plots are gritty and fast paced. And although I do like a bit of a romance between characters it doesn’t have to be there.

    So who do I like – Ilona Andrews my favourite UF of the year Magic Bites, Elaine Cunningham, Kelley Armstrong. Currently reading Bareback (Benighted) by Kit Whitfield which is fantastic. (Hope I’ve remembered her name correctly, the book’s in the other room and I suck at names.)

    In fact if I was going to recommend one UF book to anyone it would be Kelley Armstrong’s Bitten.

    I also quite like the PNR that drift into UF. J.R.Ward’s (love em or hate em) BDB books, Nalini Singh’s Psy series, Lynn Viehl’s Darkyn series.

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