Saturday, November 17, 2012

An Evening with Rachel Caine

My first encounter with Rachel Caine was many years ago when I read the first of her Weather Warden books. I never continued with that particular series, but then not all that long ago I started seeing the Morganville Vampires books pop up. The premise intrigued me and I bought the first one. I got my wife hooked on them, and she read them all. I’m only getting around to them now and have read the first five of the thirteen that are currently out.

I’ve never been to an author signing. The closest I came was getting George Martin to sign a copy of A Dance with Dragons at Worldcon in 2011, but Worldcon, while it has signings, is about a lot more than getting copies of books signed by the author.

When the Rachel Caine signing was announced my wife and I decided to meet up after work and attend. My wife had been to a signing before (Terry Pratchett), but this one was a little different because it featured a Q & A with the author.

It’s always an interesting experience seeing and hearing an author live. You tend to build up an image of how they look and sound from reading their work, and they’re often very different in person. I had seen what Rachel Caine looked like, and she didn’t resemble my mental image, so that wasn’t a surprise, but when she opened her mouth and a broad Texas accent flowed out that did throw me. It shouldn’t have, considering that the Morganville books are set in Texas, but when I read, unless I have another frame of reference, everyone sounds like an Australian to me.

One thing I was worried about with the Q & A was being spoiled. I’m only five books into a thirteen book series (there are at least fifteen planned), and a lot of the other attendees, judging by the piles of books they brought with them, were a lot further on than me.

The first part of the session was Rachel telling us the story of how she came to be called that and how she was published eventually leading to someone suggesting she write YA. The idea for Morganville was inspired by a rather mundane observation that the streetlights in one town were spaced wide apart.

Rachel has done the really BIG conventions, like San Diego and New York comic cons, and she came to Australia this time for SuperNova, but she said she prefers smaller gatherings like this bookstore one, largely because she can interact with the readers better.

After the Q & A which included questions such as the music she listens to when writing and how the bunny slippers worn by a character came about, she settled down to do the signing.

As I said I’d never been to a signing, but I’ve heard plenty of stories about how authors will only do book limits and won’t do dedications, personalized messages, etc… They had said Rachel would sign anything, but she has over 20 books out, what if someone brought their entire collection?

As it turned out they were telling the truth. Rachel was happy to sign everything, no one brought the whole twenty plus books, but there were a few complete Morganville collections there, and I was pleased to see that not everyone confined themselves to Morganville as well. Not only was she happy to sign books, she did dedications and would do personalisations as well. If anyone wanted a photograph she was more than accommodating there too. She also wanted to chat to people, which was great.

If all authors are like Rachel I’ll be going to more signings, and hopefully she’ll also tour Australia next year by which time all the Morganvilles will be out and I’ll have read them all and understand the bunny slippers reference.


  1. From my limited experience, those smaller, local author signings ARE all like this, and they are wonderful. the bookstore gives plenty of time for the author to talk, do some Q&A, and casually meet and greet people and doing signings. No hurry, no schedule, no "I gotta run to this panel", it's just very casual and relaxed and no one feels stressed.

    my biggest misconception going to author signings is always expecting the author to be way older than me. . . and I must be getting old, because these days a lot of them are younger than me!

  2. Rachel was so wonderfully accomodating. She was also a little older than me, so that made me feel less ancient.