Since 2005, writer Carrie Vaughn has written more than a dozen urban fantasy tales about Kitty Norville, an advice-dispensing werewolf. But she’s also, in the same time, written even more short stories set in the same fictional universe. In the following email interview, Vaughn talks about Kitty’s Mix-Tape (paperback, Kindle, audiobook), the second collection of Kitty Norville short stories, as well as about her two Robin Hood-related novellas, The Ghosts Of Sherwood (paperback, Kindle) and The Heirs Of Locksley (paperback, Kindle).
Photo Credit: Helen Sittig
Let’s start with some background. For people who haven’t read any of the Kitty Norville stories, who is Kitty, what does she do, and where does she live?
Kitty is a werewolf who hosts a talk radio advice show for supernatural creatures. Her adventures, based in Denver, Colorado, run for fourteen novels and a whole bunch of spin-off stories.
And then for those who have read those books, what is Kitty’s Mix-Tape and how does it connect, both narratively and chronologically, to the other books in this series?
Kitty’s Mix-Tape is a collection of short stories, most of which were previously published in magazines and anthologies, but it does have a few new stories. This includes most of the stories written since about 2010, while Kitty’s Greatest Hits [a previous collection of Kitty Norville short stories] includes stories written before then. They take place over a wide stretch of time, and are about many of the secondary characters in the series as well as Kitty herself.
As you said, Kitty’s Mix-Tape is a collection of short stories. But does it have a framing device to tie it all together?
I didn’t use a framing device for the collection. In a sense, the Kitty series itself is the framing device, and these are side-stories and “bonus features,” as it were. I wrote the stories and different times, about different characters, and this just brings them together in one place.
The Kitty Norville stories have all been urban fantasy tales. Are the stories in Kitty’s Mix-Tape ones as well, or are there other genres at work in any of them?
If you define urban fantasy as “stories with supernatural elements in a contemporary setting,” then yes, they could be considered urban fantasy. But I think urban fantasy can also include mystery, horror, comedy, historical, and a host of other genre elements. Urban fantasy is itself something of a mash of different genres.
Now, each of the stories in Kitty’s Mix-Tape comes with a soundtrack. But how does that work? Does the book come with a CD, a link to a Spotify playlist, or did you just include a listening list at the begging or ending of each story?
The soundtrack is just a list of songs that I listened to as I wrote the stories, and that seem to particularly suit each of the stories in the collection. Nothing fancy, just a little something extra to give readers another insight into the stories.
It’s been my experience that short story collections are a good place to start when exploring the oeuvre of a writer. But given that the stories in Kitty’s Mix-Tape are all connected to the Kitty Norville saga, do you think it’s a good place to start exploring either this series or your work as a whole?
The short story collections really are a good place to start with the series, both Kitty’s Mix-Tape and Kitty’s Greatest Hits. They’re sort of like a sampler pack, and people can really get a feel for the world and the characters, and if they decide they want more, they can dive into the whole series.
The press materials for Kitty’s Mix-Tape call it “the final installment” of the Kitty Norville series. Is that true, are you done with Kitty? Or, more accurately, is she done with you?
I’m not sure I’d call it “the final installment.” In fact, I’m still writing novellas about Cormac and Amelia, a couple of the secondary characters from the series, and other characters. I figure when I want to write vampire and werewolf stories, they’ll always likely end up in Kitty’s world.
Now, along with Kitty’s Mix-Tape you also recently released two novellas, The Ghosts Of Sherwood and The Heirs Of Locksley. What are those stories about?
The Ghosts Of Sherwood and The Heirs Of Locksley are stories about the children of Robin Hood and Lady Marian, set roughly 20 years after the time of the Errol Flynn movie. John is King, Magna Carta has been signed, the three kids are teens and pre-teens, and they’re starting to have adventures of their own.
Did you write those novellas at the same time as the new stories in Kitty’s Mix-Tape, or in close proximity?
Not really. I wrote the new stories in Kitty’s Mix-Tape after I’d already finished Sherwood and Locksley, which I wrote in one big burst in early 2019. They’re pretty separate projects in my own mind.
While we’re on the subject of your other books, I have to ask if about two of my favorites of yours: your space opera Martians Abroad and your post-apocalyptic Bannerless Saga Novels: Bannerless and The Wild Dead. Are there any plans to expand on either of those stories, either with more novels, some novellas, or short stories?
I always have more ideas than I have time to write. I do know what happens to Polly and Charles after the events of Martians Abroad, and I expect I’ll write more stories in the Bannerless world at some point. The trouble is time and interest. I have dozens of ideas I’d love to work on at any given moment, so I end up giving priority to what publishers and readers are willing to pay for. Additionally, I’m often more inclined to work on new ideas rather than revisit old ones.
Finally, if someone enjoys Kitty’s Mix-Tape, they’ll probably go back and read the rest of the Kitty Norville books, if they haven’t already. But once they’ve done that, which of your other books would you suggest they read next and why that one?
One of the things I want to put together soon is a “where should I start with Carrie’s novels?” kind of flow chart, because at this point I’ve written enough that I can probably match something I’ve written pretty closely with someone’s particular interest. That may also be the former bookseller in me talking, that I’d rather find out what someone wants to read rather than insist on a particular thing.