Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Special Guest - Rachel Vincent on "Why YA and bean sidhes?"

Young adult fiction, especially fantasy and urban fantasy/paranormal is experiencing an explosion in popularity and for good reason. Some of the best and most interesting stories and characters are being written by YA authors. My guest today is Rachel Vincent whose first young adult novel My Soul To Take is a prime example of this exciting renaissance. My Soul To Take is the anchoring title for the launch of the new Harlequin Teen line of young adult books and releases August 1 (although I understand it was officially in stores yesterday). So with no further ado here is Rachel.

I started writing My Soul to Take, the first in my new young adult series (Soul Screamers), more than a year and a half ago, and since that moment, the two questions I’ve been asked most often are, “Why YA?” and “Why bean sidhes?”

As for that first question, well… you may as well ask me, why I write at all. The answer is simple (probably disappointingly so): because this is what I do. This is what makes me happy. What feels right. This is the only job I can imagine never getting tired of. The only work I still want to do at two in the morning, when I’m wrist-deep in edits, drowning in caffeine, and terrified of how my product will be received.

I write because I can’t not-write. And I write YA specifically because I can no longer not-write it. It’s really that simple.

But that second question… Why bean sidhes? Well, why not bean sidhes?

I got similar questions when my very first book came out (Stray, 2007) and people discovered that even though the heroine on the cover sported obvious claw marks, I was not writing about werewolves. “Why werecats?” They’d ask. In fact, some people had so much trouble with the idea that urban fantasy could contain something other than vampires, werewolves, and witches that I wound up with multiple reviews (with each new release) that referred to Faythe as a werewolf, and to her Pride as a pack.

Fortunately, I think there’s much less chance that my bean sidhes (banshees, to the uninitiated) could ever be mistaken for anything other than what they are. Due, in large part, to Kaylee’s tendency to rupture ear drums and shake glass with her screams.

Ever seen a vampire do that? ;-)

Yeah, I think I can cross mistaken identity off my list of things to worry about with this release. ;-)

For the record, I have nothing against vampires or werewolves. In fact, two of my favorite (adult) series are Jeaniene Frost’s Night Huntress books and Patricia Briggs Mercy Thompson books. (And yes, I know Mercy isn’t a werewolf. ;-)) But I also have nothing to add to vampires or werewolves. At this point in the game, werewolves and (especially) vampires (especially in YA) are treading very well-worn paths, and the best authors in the genre have broadened those paths a bit by putting their own twists on conventional legends.

But I wanted to travel a lesser trod path through the urban fantasy landscape. Maybe even cut my own.

Did I invent bean sidhes? Of course not. Am I the first to write about them? Nowhere near. But when I was buried in research, swimming in possibilities, I knew the moment I read my first bean sidhe tale that I’d found something I could work with. A fascinating paranormal entity I’d never read about as a viewpoint character. A legendary creature whose best-known feature posed as many questions as it answered.

I’d found a new playground, with plenty of room to spread out my toys. And that’s exactly what I did.

Bean sidhes scream, and they foretell death. Most people know that, if nothing else about the old legends. But I needed more than simple harbingers of death to support the framework of the story already half-formed in my head by that point. So I played a writers’ favorite game: What If. What if… a bean sidhe is doing more than just wailing? What if her scream has a purpose we can’t understand? What if there’s more out there—dangerous creatures and terrifying worlds—than we know about, and what if a bean sidhe’s purpose in life puts her in conflict with some of those other, darker beings?

What if that bean sidhe didn’t know she wasn’t human? What if she didn’t know what she could do, or why? What if she was the only thing standing between her classmates and senseless, premature death? What would she risk to save them? Who would help her?

What if she isn’t strong enough?

Those questions form the framework for Kaylee’s world, and for her first story. Want the answers? You’re in luck. ;-) After what feels like forever for me, My Soul to Take (the red cover) is finally officially available, and My Soul to Save (the blue cover) comes out January 1. But first a word of warning before you get too far in: if you find yourself in the Netherworld, don’t touch the plant life.

Just… trust me on that one. ;-)

Thank you Rachel for taking time out to be here today and even though My Soul To Take has only just hit the streets, I can't wait for My Soul To Save to arrive in January.

Rachel's prequel novella My Soul To Lose is available free to download here. You don't need to have read it to read My Soul To Take. In fact, I would recommend reading the novel first and then reading the novella to fill in the back story.

Soul Screamers Series:
  1. My Soul To Lose (July 1, 2009 - novella)
  2. My Soul to Take (August 1, 2009)
  3. My Soul To Save (January 1, 2010)
  4. My Soul To Keep (June 1, 2010)
Check back on August 13 when I will have a special post from the team at Harlequin Teen featuring a profile of the forthcoming paranormal titles with covers and a discussion of paranormal popularity in YA.


  1. Rachel Vincent is one of my auto-buy writers (that reads as if I own her doesn't it? She's mine!) Her werecat series is also the only series from an auto-buy writer that I've read yet do not get to keep the books. My 71 year old dad takes them. Actually I give them to him. Her series is the first fiction this man has read since he was a boy, if he ever read fiction as a boy (probably not). He loves her books, and her covers. He especially is intrigued with the pride aspects of her werecats. He loves the way her characters inter-act with each other.

    I was just telling him today that Rachel Vincent is writing a new series. strangely enough, my father has never heard of a banshee (bean sidhe) before.

    I enjoyed reading more of Rachel Vincent in your blog-thanks

  2. Hi :)
    Thank you for having the tremendously talented Rachel Vincent on your site.
    Thank you Rachel for the great blog!
    I am so looking forward to reading MY SOUL TO TAKE and eagerly await MY SOUL TO LOSE.
    I've all of Rachel's books and will definitely add these to my collection.
    All the best,

  3. Fantastic guest blog! :)

    There are few authors that I will buy without question, and Vincent is one of them.

  4. Enjoyed the post. I love getting an insight into how other authors think about and approach a new story.

  5. Hi Doug and Rachel!

    Went to my local Wal-Mart last night (no bookstores here), but no luck finding My Soul to Take. I'll try again this weekend. Maybe it will be there by then. I can hope.

    I loved the novella, so fun to read! Not my first bean sidhe book, but one of the best so far!

    Dottie :)

  6. Thanks for having Rachel on as your guest today! I love finding new twists to the paranormal world to add to the WWBL and to Mt Git'r'Read.

  7. Great guest blog!
    I love Rachel's books.
    I tried to get My Soul to Take today but it will not be released to the bookstores here in my corner of Canada until Saturday, even then they said they didn't know if they would have it.
    I really look forward to this series.

  8. Hi Mardel I think a lot of us have shares in the ownership :) Interesting my father also used to read all of my F&SF that came through the house. He wasn't a particular follower of the genres but he was a voracious reader. It made for some interesting conversations.

    RKCharron My Soul to Take is fresh and original. I'm sure you will love it.

    Brooke Rachel has really exploded with great books this year.

    Thanks Jory, Rachel always has some interesting authorial insights. I'm very pleased to have had her visit twice this summer.

    Fingers crossed Dottie!

    Vickie not quite sure what the WWBL stands for (TBR?) and Mt. Git'r (mountain of good to read?)

    LOL and HQN is Canadian to boot. Hope you find it soon Digital Diva!

  9. Fantastic post! Rachel Vincent is one of my favorite current urban fantasy author; there is no doubt in my mind I will be buying this book as soon as it appears in my bookstore!

  10. Oh, I hope the Canadians are able to find it too! My releases are simultaneous in the US and Canada (Harlequin is a Canadian company), so it should be available! ;-(

    And thank you all for the kind words! ;-)

  11. Thanks for stopping in Rachel. Chapters up here is usually pretty stiff about releasing books early and it still says Aug 1 on their site. So Saturday is the big day.

  12. I really want to read this one. Such an interesting premise! I agree, vampires and werewolves have been done to death and while vamps will always be my favorite, it's extremely nice to see someone branching out a little with new ideas.

  13. Lady_tink YA in particular seems to be looking for fresh and new ideas. Rachel seems very comfortable with both YA and adult UF.

  14. I really like YA sci-fi books. I came across this book called, Rumer & Qix and was written by first time author Kathleen Wilson.
    The story is set in the 31st century. All plants and animals are beautifully re-created but totally fake, but no one seems to take notice or be concerned. Peace reigns, there is no war, disease or poverty and all is seemingly well with the world, except they have completely forgotten what ‘’real’ nature is.
    I liked this book because it was different from anything I've read before. Also, its eco-friendly and with my purchase of this book, a tree was planted...yay!


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