A stranger, but close as she can be, American writer Carrie Vaughn was a Guest of Honour at Istrakon 2012 held at Pazin (Croatia). What are her impressions, thoughts about Istrakon, Croatia, writing read and find out:

How young were you when you started writing?

I was eight years old when I wrote my first story. Most of my early writing was for school assignments, but I enjoyed it.

How do you prepare for writing?

I think a lot. I daydream. I make notes, and keep doing that until the images and events of the story are strong enough that I need to start writing them.

Do you write every day?

Yes, at least a little, even if it's just journaling or revising previously written work.

You are a fantasy writer. What do you like about fantasy?

I like the boundlessness of it, that there aren't limits. I like the thought-experiment nature of it. Anything is possible as long as I can convince the reader it is.  Also, it lets me daydream about anything at all.

Do you love mythology?

I do - Greek mythology was one of my first introductions to the fantastic.

What do you like more: writing for yourself or writing what you get paid for?

The trick is to make them one and the same. I have the work I'm contracted for and obligated to write, and I make sure to approach those projects in such a way that I'm happy doing it. I always have to write for myself, because if I'm not happy with it, I can't expect anyone else to be.

You keep a dairy. Why?

Because sometimes I just have to get thoughts out of my brain and onto the page.  They're easier to deal with, then.  It's therapeutic.

What do you like to read?

"Anything good" is my standard response, which is awfully broad. I like lots of different things - stand alone fantasy, such as the books of Robin McKinley and Patricia McKillip. Well-written space opera, like Lois McMaster Bujold and James S. A. Corey. I'm a fan of the classics - Dickens and Joseph Conrad. I'm always trying to catch up on books on I haven't read yet.

What kind of films you like?

I'm a big fan of science fiction adventure, superhero movies, epic fantasy, spectacle. I go to the movies to be amazed. But the writing and stories have to be good, too, or I go crazy. It's tough to get good writing in these genres, but it is possible. Those are the films I really admire.

What can you tell me about your short story Amaryllis (which was nominated for Hugo)? Is it dystopian story or…

I don't think it's dystopian, but the editor disagrees with me. I think of it as an upbeat post-apocalyptic story. It takes place after a civilization-shattering ecological disaster, but I wanted to show how I think people will survive, will hold on to something of technology and civilization, and cope the best they can. There will still be happy endings.

Can you tell me something about your bestselling series about Kitty Norville? Do you like writing them?

The series is about a werewolf named Kitty who hosts a talk radio advice show for people with supernatural problems. As of this summer there will be ten novels and a short story collection in the series. It's been in print about 7 years now. I try to write them as fun adventure-mysteries with some comedy and some horror. They're a huge amount of fun to write. I very much enjoy seeing how far I can push the envelope of that particular subgenre. I keep writing them because I keep getting new ideas.

Your short work has appeared in Realms of Fantasy and in a number of anthologies: By Blood We Live, Fast Ships, Black Sails, Warriors… What do you think about your success?

It's been an adjustment to even think of myself as successful. The last couple of years in particular have been a whirlwind. I spent so long struggling to get my work in print, never mind have it be widely read, that I still think of myself in that mode sometimes. I'm trying to enjoy it, and the little bit of breathing room it gives me. But I also know I'm still not the best writer I can be. I'm still learning and improving, and I want to keep challenging myself as a writer. I'm ambitious, and I have more milestones I want to accomplish.

You were the Guest of Honour at Istrakon 2012 held in Pazin (Croatia). What was it like?

I had a great time. It was fun, because it looks like just about every convention in the U. S. I've been to, with merchants selling books and jewelry and wares, people gaming, people having great discussions over drinks, parties and concerts and all that good stuff. I just didn't understand what people were saying much of the time! My books aren't translated in Croatian yet, but a couple of short stories were translated for the convention, and I was flattered at how interested people were in my work. And I had fans, too, who'd read the books in English, and it was great meeting them.

Was this your firts time in Croatia? How did you like it?

Yes, it was my first time, and I'm happy I had extra time before the convention to see some of the country. The landscape is beautiful, with the mountains and coastlines. As someone who's interested in history, there's a huge amount to see and learn as well. I already have a list of things I want to do and see when I come back.

Can you tell me the difference, something you’ve noticed, between Croatia and America?

Lots of little things. The stereotype about distances is true - in America, especially in the west where I live, we usually have to drive for hours to get anywhere, so all the driving I did seeing Croatia wasn't a big deal to me. Another difference is history - living history, the idea that people have been living in these cities for hundreds of years. A thousand years, in the case of someplace like Split or Pula. And that people are still living there, in the same houses and buildings that have been occupied continuously all that time. This is taken for granted, not just in Croatia but all over Europe. We have very old settlements in the U. S. - Spanish forts and Anasazi cliff dwellings for example, are hundreds of years old. But they haven't been used continuously all that time, and most of them are isolated and preserved as museums, now.

Do you have new ideas for a next book?

I have about ten books I want to write, right this minute. In this sense contracts are nice, because I pretty much have to write what I'm getting paid for. I'm not sure I'd be able to decide what to work on next, otherwise. I will always have too many ideas.

Interview by
Tamara Lujak