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November 11, 2009

Rachel Caine on Life Lessons and Unlikely Motivations

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LinkRachel Caine is the bestselling author of over twenty novels for adults, but is widely known to teen audiences for her popular Morganville Vampires books. In today's guest blog, she shares a touching story about how the series may not have existed at all without the help of a very good friend.


The first thing you need to know about me is that I can be completely wrong about things. For instance: I almost said no to writing the Morganville Vampires series.

Wait, I'm wrong: I actually did say no.

I was on about the fourth book of the other series I was writing, the Weather Warden series, when the publisher approached me and said, "We're starting up a new line of books for young adults. Would you be interested in writing a series for us? We were thinking about a vampire series." (This was pretty farsighted on their part, considering that TWILIGHT had come out, but wasn't the monster hit it would become later.)

Now, I had written about vampires already. A lot. My first original novel, in fact, was called THE UNDEAD, and featured a Dallas surgeon who became a vampire (I also wrote a sequel to it, COLD KISS). I wrote short vampire fiction (most notably the Nebula-nominated "Faith Like Wine"). So I wasn't new to the idea, but that was the problem: I'd already written a lot of words about vampires. And I wasn't sure I had anything new to add.

So after thinking it over for not nearly long enough, I said no. Then I got worried, because as a writer, you really don't say no when someone offers you a chance like that, not without a whole lot of thinking.

I got on the phone during my drive home from work to talk to my good friend, Ter Matthies. Ter read extensively in young adult books; she also knew my writing style. So I said, "Ter, they offered me this chance, and I said no, because I really don't have anything to say about vampires right now, and also, I don't write young adult."

Ter was quiet for a moment, then said, "You can write young adult. Trust me."

Well, that was one problem down. "But I don't have any good ideas!" And Ter, bless her, laughed.

"You will," she said. "Before I hang up the phone, you'll think of something."

And I did. On the drive home, I talked about Morganville (although it wasn't named that at the time). About all the things that suddenly started putting themselves together in my head. About Claire, and Shane, and Michael, and Eve. And Ter asked me questions, prodded me, pushed me, and encouraged me. And by the time I pulled into my driveway, I had the basics of the series.

And Ter said, "Get off the phone with me, call your agent, and make the deal."

And I did.

This is especially important to me because about a year later, Ter became ill, and after long months, she was finally diagnosed with cancer. After a year of battling it, we lost her in 2008. She was a fantastic friend, and without her, Morganville would quite simply not exist. Her instincts were right, mine were wrong, and I have learned the best lesson of all from her:

Anything is possible.

All you need is imagination, and a friend like Ter to tell you when you're being an idiot. And I think I carried that on into Morganville, which is, to my mind, a living memorial to Ter, and friendship. With love, from me.

-- Rachel Caine