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Roots and Story

Discord's Apple by Carrie VaughnBy Carrie Vaughn

I used to not think too much about setting, about how a strongly anchored setting—and an author’s personal connection to a setting—could contribute to a story. Sure, there were isolated examples of writers who are so strongly linked to a setting that their writing has come to define a place and time: Dickens’ Victorian London, for example. But since I grew up as an Air Force brat, I had a pretty rootless childhood, never identifying very strongly with any one place. I figured that aspect of writing would never really be available to me.

Turned out I was wrong. In 2002, I lost two relatives—my grandfather and my great aunt Rose—from different sides of the family within a week of each other. I learned a lot about my family that year. We visited the house in rural Alabama where my paternal grandfather grew up, and later that summer I asked my maternal grandmother to take me on a tour of the very small town in Colorado where she and her four siblings spent their childhoods in the 1930’s. I heard many family stories for the first time and was able to picture my grandparents as children, with grandparents of their own, and so on, stretching back through time. And I discovered that I do have roots—in rural America, in turn-of-the century farmsteads and clapboard houses. My family photo album is filled with pictures of men in overalls and women in cotton prairie dresses standing on front porches, squinting into the sun, wind blowing hair into their faces. This discovery of a family heritage, however unassuming, formed the seed that became Discord’s Apple, in which my main character Evie returns home to rural Colorado and uncovers something magical.

Kitty Goes to War by Carrie VaughnSetting ended up playing an unexpected part in the Kitty novels as well. I set the first book in Denver because that was the big city I knew best. However, it turned out to be a perfect place to base a series of novels about werewolves. Some of the most famous pictures of Denver feature skyscrapers against a backdrop of towering, snow-capped mountains. That’s a hell of an image, and very telling. Denver has a little bit of a split personality. It started as a cow town and a silver-rush boom town, and it’s still fiercely proud of that western pioneer heritage. It’s within sight of the Rocky Mountains and lays claim to that wild, rugged world. But it’s also a real, genuine, urban center—with world-class universities, museums, restaurants, sports, concerts, and so on—longing to take its place among the country’s great cities (ranked number 24 in the U.S. by population, between Milwaukee and Seattle). But some visitors seem vaguely surprised to discover that Denver has paved streets and sidewalks. What better place to set a story about a supernatural creature caught between her wild wolf nature and her urban lifestyle?

So, despite my nomadic childhood, I’ve learned to embrace setting. And I’ve discovered that I have roots after all, and I’m very happy to be able to celebrate that in my stories.

Both Discord’s Apple (0-7653-2554-3 / $23.99) and Kitty Goes to War (0-7653-6561-8 / $7.99) will be available from Tor in July.

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From the Tor/Forge July newsletter. To receive our newsletter via email, sign up here.

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Tor Books is excited to welcome author Carrie Vaughn to our list!

Image Placeholder of - 80Carrie Vaughn, author of the best selling Kitty Norville novels, has joined Tor. Carrie was previously published by Grand Central, and has written a heartfelt blog post about why she chose to leave.

We’re very excited to be publishing Carrie. Many of us are huge fans of her Kitty novels—how can you not love a werewolf named Kitty? Especially one who has a radio talk show as entertaining as The Midnight Hour? The next novel in the series, Kitty Goes to War, will be available this July, and it more than lives up to the promise of her previous books.

Beyond that, however, we’re particularly excited to be helping Carrie spread her wings and work on novels outside Kitty’s world. The first of these novels, Discord’s Apple, will be published in July. In it, a woman returns home to her dying father, and discovers that the creaky old house in Hope’s Fort, Colorado, is not the only thing she’s inheriting. Along with it, she gains a magical legacy that has the potential to destroy—or remake—the world.

Stay tuned for more information about Carrie’s upcoming books, and please join us in welcoming her to Tor Books!

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