Vamp Candy: Rachel Caine

If you think paranormal-fiction writer Rachel Caine has ever written you into one of her books, you're wrong.

"People say that to me all the time," laughs the Fort Worth-based Caine. "I have to tell them, 'No, but no, you're not in the book." I don't think I convince most of them, but really, I'm not writing about real people here." (She assures us that if there's a nosy reporter in her next book, it won't be us.)

It would be hard for Caine to write about real people because she writes about vampires. Her latest release, Last Breath, is part of her Morganville Vampire series. Set in a small Texas community that's run by vampires, the series follows the adventures of Claire, a college student who spends her time dealing with the undead that populate her hometown.

Caine has written 11 books in the Morganville series and there are plans for more. Over the years, her main character Claire has changed. "She started out very protected, innocent and shy, which is kinda where I was when I went off to college," Caine says. "She's had to become very self-sufficent and yet not lose that edge of sweetness that she has. It's been a lot of fun to grow her up with each of the books. She faces and overcomes each new problem, she gets stronger."

"It's not only her characters that have changed; readers have changed, too. "Originally I saw young adults, in their teens, at readings. But I've been seeing lots of adults coming to readings now. It's not only parents who are reading the books with their kids, it's people who just discovered that they like young adult literature.

"There are lots of college kids, too, that grew up reading the books. They're really liking Clair's journey and they're facing some of the same things she does -- hopefully not vampires, but other things, like learning who to trust and how to be on their own."

With more than 30 books to her credit, many of them best sellers, Caine says it's important to have a sense of humor about her writing, even if what she's writing about isn't always that funny. "It's important to have an authentic emotional experience, even in a book with vampires. It has to be emotionally accurate. If there's a death that means something to one of the characters, I have them go through the grief process.

"I think that being a writer, one of the things that you have to do is get emotion out of your characters and it's kinda cruel. One of the questions I often ask myself when I'm writing a book is, 'How can I make it worse?'"

Caine knows her books are fluff fiction and that's something that she's comfortable with. "I never set out to write a book that was going to change someone's life. The nice thing is sometimes that happens anyway. I talk to people every tour that say things like, 'Having these books got me through a really bad time in my life' or 'I never liked to read until I started to read your books.' I enjoy what I do. I grew up reading action adventure. I do take it seriously in that I try to do the best job I can every time, but I also know I'm not going to change the world."

Caine spends some 30 weeks out of the year on the road promoting her books. ("I've gotten really good at packing," she tells us.) The result is that she's seen some fans year after year, which gives them a certain familiarity. "I'm very open and accessible to my readers. They tweet me and e-mail me all the time."

Her close contact with her readers means they have very few misconceptions about her, although there are a couple. "Most of them know that I'm not dark and brooding, which I think is disappointing to some readers," she says. "But they get over that. The only other misconception is that I can write the books even more quickly!"

Rachel Caine discusses and signs her new book at 6:30 p.m. on November 2 at Murder by the Book, 2342 Bissonnet. For information, visit www.murderbooks.com or call 713-524-8597. Free.

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