By Marty Mulrooney
Cherie Priest is an award-winning author who currently lives in Seattle, Washington with her husband and a fat black cat. Her 2009 novel Boneshaker was nominated for a Nebula Award and a Hugo Award, and won the Locus Award for Best Science Fiction Novel. Cherie was recently kind enough to join us to discuss her new books, Bloodshot and Hellbent, in an exclusive online interview!
Hi Cherie, thank you for your time and welcome to AMO!
Thanks for having me!
Can you tell our readers a little bit about yourself please?
I’m an utter dork in more ways than are immediately visible to the naked eye. I’m inordinately fond of zombies, trashy goth music, and cheap red wine. I have a deep-seated aversion to unfinished ceramics, an allergy to yellow dye #7, and a morbid fear of sloths. I put ketchup on almost everything.
What else do you do apart from writing books?
Lately? Not much. Between the novels and a very exciting (but very demanding) super-secret day-job, most of my downtime is spent catching up on sleep.
You have won several awards. Which of these means the most to you and why?
Actually, I was nominated for several awards. I only won a couple – the Locus Award and the PNBA award. Each is special in its own way; the Locus was a genre award, and the PNBA was a regional one. Apples to oranges, really. But in all due fairness, the PNBA award is WAY good-looking – it’s an elaborate, tiny bookshelf in a gilded frame. It’s just about the cutest thing you’ve ever seen. Mind you, the classy Locus plaque is nothing to sneeze at; but for sheer originality points, the PNBA takes the cake.
Would you class yourself as a predominantly science fiction orientated author?
Well, I’m best-known for my science fiction – assuming you want to classify steampunk as such (and some people don’t). But I come from a horror tradition, and my earlier books are much darker/more gothic in their scope, so I suppose I consider myself more of a dark fantasist. Honestly, it’s not something I think about often.
Would you say the Raylene Pendle books are something of a new direction for you?
Oh, absolutely. She’s an odd bird, isn’t she? I started writing her, and building a story for her, when I decided it was time to lighten up a bit. As I said in response to the previous question, the bulk of my material is quite dark. I needed a break. I wanted to take a chance on something funnier, and more modern.
What can you tell us about the first two books, Bloodshot and Hellbent?
Obsessive-compulsive vampire earns a living stealing expensive things, makes friends with a couple of homeless kids, acquires a drag queen sidekick. Hijinks ensue!
Is the plan to continue these books as an ongoing series?
I’d like to, but I’m not sure if I’ll get the chance or not. That’ll depend on the publisher, and how well these first two instalments sell. I have a pitch on a third book called Sawbones, but we’re in a holding pattern at the moment.
Do these new books fall more under the horror or fantasy category?
Depends on your definition of either category. I’d say they’re a bit of both.
How would you describe Raylene as a protagonist?
Abrasive, impulsive, and frankly bananas… but at the same time, she’s got a weirdly solid moral core. She’s a lone wolf hunting for the pack she never knew she wanted; and when she finds it, she’ll defend it with her life.
Do you think it is easier to write strong female protagonists as a female author?
I’m not sure that it matters. I mean, I suppose it must, on some level… but I’ve written strong men, and I know male writers who’ve written strong women. No sense in creating a false binary, there.
Where do your ideas come from and how much research is involved?
Ideas come from everywhere. New ideas are never the problem; finding the time to act on them – that’s the problem. The research volume depends on the subject.
Are there any films or television shows that have inspired your writing?
Sure, but that’s a big question. I’d be here all day if I tried to list them all. Suffice it to say, I love noir and science fiction, and survival horror. Also, I’m a huge nerd for weird nonfiction.
What is your favourite book you have written so far and why?
Each book has some element to it that I like particularly well; there’s a bit of “favourite” in all of them.
What books by other authors would you recommend?
Again, this is a huge question. And if I tried to answer it, I’d be virtually guaranteed to leave someone out and feel dumb about it later.
You also write short stories. How does writing these differ from writing full length novels? Do you find it more liberating or constraining?
I don’t write many short stories, because I don’t think I’m really very good at them. I’m proud of the ones I eventually managed to produce, but I find them very difficult – it’s a very different mindset from creating long fiction.
Is it true you recently began working for a video game company?
That is true, yes – but the project has not been announced yet, so I’m not allowed to talk about it yet.
What is next for you Cherie?
Two more steampunk novels for certain (Ganymede in September, Inexplicables next year), and beyond that, I’m not sure. Once I get Inexplicables handed in, I plan to dedicate myself to this gaming project – and then return to novels sometime after New Year’s.
Thank you for your time!
Please stay tuned, as AMO will be reviewing Bloodshot by Cherie Priest very soon!
Author photo credit: Caitlin Kittredge, 2010.