A chat with Caitlin Kittredge

fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviewsPlease welcome today, Caitlin Kittredge. Caitlin is the  author of two popular urban fantasy series: BLACK LONDON and NOCTURNE CITY and the co-author with Jackie Kessler of the ICARUS PROJECT. She will be stopping by throughout the day to respond to fan questions and comments and to give away a copy of Street Magic and Demon Bound. So, please make sure to thank her for stopping by and let her know which novel you prefer to receive.

SB Frank: Caitlin, you are a self-confessed rocker, but I note on your website at your website that you also play the violin. When did you start playing? How often you play now? And with whom? And what type of music, groups, concerts, you enjoy? [I’m pausing a moment here to picture you playing in a blue-grass band and wearing a shaggy gray beard].

fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviewsI actually haven’t played since college, but I was a classical violinist for ten years before that and I also played Irish folk music. The folk music was way more fun – I played at a lot of dances, in folk bands, all that. Unfortunately, I fell out of playing before the resurgence of folk-punk, or I would have been all over that.

What are your favorite rock groups and bands? What would we find on your iPod?

I have a lot of single-artist playlists since I tend to get in a groove, and I also make playlists for my novels and characters for a “mood” when I’m writing. Off the top of my head, the stuff I put in heavy rotation includes the Pogues, Dropkick Murphys, early Bowie, Nick Cave, Lazy Cowgirls, some Zeppelin, Black Sabbath, the Clash, the Dead Kennedys and, because I am a child of the 90s, Nirvana and Green Day.

Nirvana, huh? Well, your bio does say that you acquire bad habits. Speaking of which, other than Nirvana are there any notable bad habits you’d be willing to share?

Procrastination! I am a world champion putter-offer. But I’m trying to collect good habits to balance that out.

Another bad habit is getting into internet slapfights with people who don’t appreciate my musical nostalgia. :-))

In addition to your two urban fantasy series, BLACK LONDON and NOCTURNE CITY, I understand that you and Jackie Kessler are coming out with the ICARUS PROJECT, starting with Black-and-White, which your website describes as part of the genre superhero fiction. Can you tell us a little about the project?

The ICARUS PROJECT is a set of novels set in a dystopian future, where superheroes keep the peace but are really controlled by a mysterious and far-reaching corporation that may have been responsible for the hero’s very creation. The story follows Jet, a hero who uses shadow to fight crime, and Iridium, a hero-turned-criminal who rebelled against her corporate masters and is trying to set the rest of the heroes free – but both of them have hidden motives and a villain that’s much worse than either of them has started to threaten their lives.

Sounds great. I understand that as a teenager you wrote an epic fantasy: sword, sorcery, elves…  Do you have any plans to reenter the sub-genre, either retelling that story or coming up with something new?

fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviewsI don’t currently have any plans… my tastes have changed, but I’m not a one-genre writer, so who knows where ideas will take me in the future?

As the title suggests, your BLACK LONDON series takes place in the UK. You seem to know a lot about the area including a lot of British slang and curse words. Have you lived in the UK? Or, if not, how did you pick up on all of this?

I’ve never lived in the UK, although I’ve spent a lot of time there as a visitor. My ancestors were English and came from Sussex in the 1660s, so they weren’t terribly helpful. Honestly, I watched a lot of English non-fiction programs (reality shows and the BBC world news and the like) to pick up speech patterns and idioms, and then I turned a few of my Brit friends loose on the manuscript of Street Magic to tell me where and how I’d screwed up. Now I like to think I can fake it pretty well.*

You have a great imagination for dark characters/creatures, and I also notice you refer quite frequently to mythology and legend. I’m wondering how much of this stuff comes straight from your brain and how much comes from research. How do you go about inventing a monster or a world setting?

fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviewsI like to use research as a jumping-off point more than gospel. I tend to find something interesting from folklore (for instance, I used the legend of the Black Dog in Demon Bound, a mythological dog that’s said to follow travelers on dark roads and also take souls to the underworld when their time is up.) I started with the idea of the spectral dog – kind of a scent hound for Death – and ran with my own ideas of how that might work in a modern setting from there.

If you see something really weird and effed up in one of my books, though, chances are it was all my idea because my brain can be a strange place.

We’re giving away a copy of Street Magic and Demon Bound to two lucky commenters.

FanLit thanks Stephen Frank for conducting this interview for us! 

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STEPHEN (S.B.) FRANK, one of our guest contributors, earned a Ph.D. at Duke University and works in the field of education reform. When he needs a break from real life, he likes to indulge in urban fantasy. He has a particular love for humor, so some of his favorite authors are Dakota Cassidy, Mary Janice Davidson, Mark Henry, Julie Kenner, Katie MacAlister, Richelle Mead and Christopher Moore.

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  1. This is my introduction to your work and I’m so happy to have found it! I love dark, mythological stories and urban fantasy. You’re now on my list of authors to buy at my next book shopping trip :-))

  2. Hi Caitlin,

    I enjoyed Street Magic. What is your favorite character from foklore?

    If I win I’d like a copy of Demon Bound.

  3. lol awesome interview! Don’t worry Caitlin I share your love of Nirvana. :D I also really dig the Black London series!

  4. I love it that you play the violin! I haven’t had the chance to read any of your books yet…but just you saying that your brain is a strange place makes me know I would LOVE them! :-))

  5. What do you think about the covers given to your works? Do they work for you? To they capture something from the book? Or are they really not what you’d prefer?

    I’d like to win Street Magic.

  6. Great interview, thanks a bunch for stopping by. Stephen is so full of Nirvana hate, that I think he secretly loves them. All children of the 90’s are required to lament over Kurt Cobain and Layne Staley.

    I’ve got a couple questions for you.

    Recent books that you’ve read and really liked?

    How has the co-authoring experience been? How exactly does that work with two authors with their own individual style writing on the same book?

    Thanks again

    I’m fanlit staff so no book for me.

  7. Great interview! I missed the whole Nirvana Mayhem. Sorry! BUT I love your books! That does count for something here right? Who’s books do you enjoy reading and I second the recent books question (that you have enjoyed)

  8. Caitlin,
    I am interested in hearing what you like to read, and who your favorite authors are.
    As a “freind” on facebook, I always wonder if you see being connected to your fans in that way as beneficial to your writing?
    Lastly, how do you gather your inspiration?
    Thank you!

  9. Hi everyone! Thanks for having me.

    sgiden – My favorites are definitely trickster characters, such as Loki. I like the not bad/not good archetypes, because they’re usually way more interesting to work with on a thematic level. I also really love all the various death omens that different mythologies contain, the most famous probably being the banshee and the bean nighe, the washerwoman warriors in the British Isles see just before they die.

    Mike – I have absolutely no say over the cover, but I adore the Black London artwork. I was very, very lucky.

    Justin – My favorite book in recent memory was SANDMAN SLIM, by Richard Kadrey. It was just really fantastic, really different and strange and demented urban fantasy. I also recently read Caitlin R. Kiernan’s THE RED TREE and loved it. As for the co-authoring experience…largely painless! You need a certain temperament to work with a co-author, and I like to think that we didn’t drive each other too crazy. The meshing of styles came from a lot of consulting back and forth to make it perfect. It’s definitely more work than a single-author novel.

    Jen – See my answer to Justin’s question. Some authors on my auto-buy list are Mike Carey, Neil Gaiman and Gillian Flynn.

    scrapnqueen2001 – See above for the book question. I love being connected to my fans, except in very rare occasions when someone has overstepped or been really creepy. In that case, it’s a simple fix–I just hit BLOCK! The internet is both wonderful in that it fosters intimacy with creators and terrible in the sense that, well, it fosters intimacy, which some people take entirely the wrong way. However, it’s easier to get rid of Fans Who Love Too Much on the web than in real life, that’s for sure. Lastly, you do know authors hate this question, right? Really, though, I can be inspired by anything or anyone. It’s the execution that matters.

  10. Great interview. Thanks for sharing today. I have your Nocturne City books on my wishlist and am looking forward to reading them.

  11. I totally adore your books, especially the Black London series which has had such an amazing blend of emotion, action, magic and darkness. I can’t WAIT for the next book to be out…any idea when that’ll be? Or anything you can say about it? :awww: (going for puppy-dog-eyed emoticon there)

  12. I read Sandman Slim and loved Richard Kadrey’s metaphors. I also love Nirvana and I have no idea why Stephen considers Nirvana to be more of a bad habit than The Dead Kennedys or Black Sabbath. :no:

    I haven’t tried one of Caitlin Kittredge’s novels, but I think I will.

    Thanks for stopping by, Caitlin!

  13. Great interview – I’ve not read any of your novels, but will be adding them on my must buy to read list! I’m intrigued by the Black London series! =)

  14. Hey Caitlin. I am very excited to start reading your books they sound amazing.

  15. Great interview! I have all of your books on my wishlist and can’t wait to read them, especially the Black London series!

  16. Well, given that I’ve publicly admitted to growing up listening to Barry Manilow I have to say that my musical street cred and overall coolness rating is pretty close to absolute zero.


    PS – Thanks Caitlin for the awesome interview, the giveaways and for stopping by!! Keep writing.

  17. Great interview! I’m in the middle of the Nocturne City series and I’m really enjoying it.

    I had a quick question about being a professional author. Do you write typically when the mood strikes you or do you have a set routine to help get the word count up and meet your deadlines? Thanks!

  18. Hi Caitlin,
    I really love your two heroines – Luna and Pete – and am struck by how different and yet how similar they are. I was wondering if you’d comment on, say, how you imagine they would get along if they met, or whatever you like in that vein.

    Do you imagine Luna’s Nocturne city and Pete’s London coexisting on one planet, or are they to be seen as completely different realities?

    ~ Layla

    Re: the contest – Since I’m just finishing up Street Magic, I’d love to win a copy of Demon Bound (if you’re willing to ship to Canada, that is).

  19. I have not read your series before but it sounds great!

  20. I think I’d have to say my favorite of your novels is the black london series. Standing alone from the others I love how you set it in the bleak UK and the accents and even the English slang. I’m English myself but have never had the opportunity to live in England, just visit occasionally and watch a bunch of English based science fiction shows and talk shows but I found the first novel a great experience and I even took a few slang words out from it. I will have to try them out next time I visit London. Great job and I look forward to reading the rest.

  21. Hi Caitlin,

    I am with you 100% on the Nirvana love! I have been looking for your books locally ever since I first heard of the Black London Series, but I can never find them. I try to buy locally as often as possible, but I might just have to give it up and order them online because it is driving me nuts. You have been recommended to me by just about every bookish friend I have.

    Great interview!

  22. Do not enter me in giveaway!
    (I already have the books)
    Thank you for the great interview with Caitlin & thank you to Caitlin for sharing here and answering the comments. I’m glad Caitlin’s open to writing other genres & I’d read whatever she wrote. I love her “voice”.
    All the best,

  23. I currently own Black and White, but I’ve been dying to get my hands on Street Magic and Demon Bound.

  24. What a fun interview! I’ve yet to read STREET MAGIC, but it’s been on my list for awhile now. It sounds right up my alley. I was wondering what made you decide to take a stab at urban fantasy?

  25. I loved Street Magic and would love to win Demon Bound.
    I have part of the Nocturne City series in my TBR stack.

  26. Back again for Round 2…

    Samantha Briffett – Thanks! Currently, I’ve contracted for two more London books. The third one’s titled BONE GODS and let’s just say it’s the fallout from the events of DEMON BOUND. No idea on a release date yet–I’m writing it as we speak.

    Matt Johnson – It depends. When I’m on strict deadline I work all the time, otherwise I have a daily wordcount and I fill it when I can during the day, in between errands and publicity and Real Life. And cats. I have several, and they’re like fuzzy people who eat more.

    Layla – I don’t think they’d get along at all, actually–Pete is very down to earth, a coper and a problem-solver. Luna is a spitfire and she’s abrasive and confrontational. Pete would probably think she was a bit of a bitch, really! The two series are two seperate worlds–like Batman and Wolverine, never the twain shall meet (and I will hear nothing of the 1990s Marvel/DC crossover! :P)

    Angiegirl – I kind of backed into urban fantasy–all I knew when I wrote my first novel was that I wanted to write a werewolf story. Marketing informed me what I’d written qualified as UF…I had no idea.

    Thanks to everyone for commenting!

  27. Caitlin, you did not just mention comics in a thread where you already mentioned Dropkick Murphys in an article about your new fantasy novel…seriously if you play D&D or Warcraft it would be wise not to admit it. Cause there isn’t one fat guy with a pony tail in the United States that would not be camping on your lawn by morning.

  28. I have really enjoyed reading Street Magic and I have Demond Bound here on the shelf to dig into here soon. I look forward to learning more on Petes’ power and seeing her come into her own with them. I really enjoyed the scene when she was in that dream and received her strength.

    I was wondering if you are still around, What books do you have on your shelves to read? Is there anything there that may have been around for a little while gathering dust?

    Thank you again!

  29. You are a new to me author, but your books sound just awesome. I’d love the chance to win them.. You will go on my to buy list from now on..

    mlawson17 at hotmail dot com

  30. Hi!

    You mention that you create mood lists for your models and characters. If you are listening to the ‘wrong’ music, or are somewhere you have no influence on the music being played, does it affect the quality of your writing?

  31. Just have to add I really loved the first dark london book, looking forward to reading the second.

    Really liked the banter between your characters, and the humor along with the dark aspects of the plot.

    My question is – what in particular inspires your dialogue?

    Really interesting interview. Thanks.

  32. I have some of your books on my TBR shelf, but haven’t had a chance to read them yet. I’m looking forward to getting started on both series mentioned. I enjoyed the interview – it was fun learning more about you and your writing process.

  33. Thanks for dropping by.

    I must confess I haven’t read any of your books as yet but they sound interesting so I will see about getting one or two.

    I know a lot of authors swear by going to a place to do research for a book. Is it only finances that stop you doing that ?

    Good interview.


  34. Nice interview. I haven’t read any of your books but they are on my TBR list.

  35. How do you like promotion through blogs? Do you prefer road tripping and endorsing your books over internet promotion?..Stacy


  36. The characters were very interesting and unique in the Black London series, for me. But I was sorta uncomfortable with the setting and language, I’m not too sure why, maybe I had trouble understanding the slang and stuff.

    I read the first in the BL series and I am quite interested to read the next.

  37. Thanks, that was an interesting interview. Recently some of the Wild Card authors have blogged about writing a collaborative novel, which I found really interesting. How was working with someone else on the Icarus project been? The premise of the Icarus sounds very intriguing, definitely going to have to check that out.

  38. Great Interview! I have heard so much about the black London novels, and they sounds great! Will definitely check it out.

  39. Great interview, i’m so excited knowing a new for me author. your books are “my” kindda book !

  40. I’m new to Urban Fantasy. My daughter got me reading it. I haven’t read anything by you yet so I’m glad I found ya. I’d like a chnace to win and read your books. I’d like to know why you chose to right UF, is it becasue thats what you like to read? Or do you write any other genre’s?


  41. Hi, I read alittle bit of everything, I love paranormal but not I’m into UF. I’d love to read your books. They sounds awesome!
    I have a question. How do you pick your characters names and do they mean anything?


  42. 04577391346452168374 /

    Thanks for the giveaway! This is my favorite genre so these look great.

    I’d love to win either since I want to read them both!



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