Ghosts & Carpet Sharks #5: Greywalker’s Kat Richardson [INTERVIEW]

If you’re just tuning in to our interview series with Greywalker creator and author, Kat Richardson, you’ll probably want to start with the first part of this five part series here, where we covered the basics of the series and the new upcoming novel, Possession.

As we conclude our interview, we delve into the unheralded hero of Greywalker: Chaos, the ferret, as well as delving into some secrets that we didn’t have a chance to explore before now!

Ferrets.

This is the interview where we cover all the extra questions, including the future of Greywalker and ferrets.

This is the interview where we cover all the extra questions, including the future of Greywalker and ferrets.

I understand you and your husband are ferret fanciers. I confess, I knew almost nothing about ferrets before reading your books and, by the end, found I was half tempted to get one. Tell us about what led you and your husband into ferret fancy?

My husband was raised in England where ferrets are still common as working animals—less common as simple household pets, in fact. They’re used for pest control and as cable-runners. I find them rather adorable but I know they aren’t everyone’s cuppa. They do smell a bit… When I moved out of California where ferrets are illegal, it was no problem to find a ferret and, since we’re kind of eccentric and silly people, my husband and I decided to get a one. Eventually we had five. They’re utterly without fear, very charming, and they act like kittens all their lives—playing and sleeping and being irrepressible.

Chaos, Harper’s supernaturally sensitive ferret, is a major component of all the Greywalker books. Who was the inspiration for your protagonist’s “maniacally chuckling carpet shark”?

Chaos is an amalgam of our first two ferrets: Fidget, or “Fidgie, the Queen of the Foos” (which is not spoken but sung to the tune of “Lydia the Tattooed Lady”) who was remarkably focused and serious for a ferret; and Gus-Gus, who was a total goofball, derp-face. Fidgie is the one who climbs tables and steals food out of Harper’s dish, then gets angry when it’s taken away, while Gus is the one who chuckles to himself constantly and gets into ridiculous trouble—he was also the owner of “Nixon the eggplant” which will make perfect sense once you read POSSESSION. Both long gone now, sadly. We’re now ferret-less, since we currently have a rescued pit bull terrier who is not too bright and tends to snatch and shake everything. Not a good combination with fur Slinkys.

While it is sad that there are no more Ferrets in the Harper household currently, it’s wonderful that they can live on in the essence of Chaos! (And it’s wonderful that you could rescue your terrier!)

Bonus Questions.

While this brass statue doesn't know where his towel is, he was some of Seattle's inspirational scenery that helps Ms. Richardson tell her tales.

While this brass statue doesn’t know where his towel is, he was some of Seattle’s inspirational scenery that helps Ms. Richardson tell her tales.

The wonderful Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy dialogue in Seawitch about knowing where your towel is: Was that an actual conversation with your husband or entirely fictional? (I’ve actually had that conversation with my wife, who may be functionally illiterate in Douglas Adams’ Hitchhiker’s series, but has learned the quotes pertaining to the towel, the monster who is so stupid, and the number 42 so that she never misses an opportunity for geeky humor. And she is quick to point out that she’s frightfully literate in Adams’ fantasy counterpart, Terry Pratchett!)

It was not an actual conversation, but it’s a lot like some we have had. I have a lot of fun with Quinton’s geeky references.

In Seawitch we see a Harper Blaine that’s at last at a bit of equilibrium with herself, her love life, her powers, her employers, and, wonder of wonders, the police. This seems like a great platform for her and provides natural fodder for plenty of tales. While there will obviously be things which will upset the apple cart, is this the main stage you anticipate Harper upon in the foreseeable future?

It’s been one of the goals of the long character arc to get Harper to a state of personal understanding and equilibrium which was totally lacking in her at the beginning of the series. When the agents and publisher first started making series noises, I had initially thought of doing what most long-running mystery series do and just give the interesting and eccentric sleuth a new mystery to solve in each book. But that never happened, because I immediately started trying to make Harper “better.” By the time we had signed for the first three books, my ideas had changed and from that point onward, I’ve had no intention of writing “monster of the week” books with Harper. There’s always going to be some personal issue for her or her loved ones. Because if nothing changes, the books don’t satisfy me—and why write them if they don’t make me happy? If I can’t keep on challenging Harper—and myself—I’ll stop writing them.

I think that’s a great point! My favorite shows and series manage to have interesting cases or events that must be dealt with, but never lose track of serial arc of personal growth and greater interpersonal mysteries that come with that growth!

Although Harper is, in theory, a loner, she has a network of people she relies upon and who provide crucial information to her.

When she first started, it was Ben & Mara, but, while they’re still available to be tapped, it feels much more like Harper’s building a team of contacts that are uniquely tied to her. Quinton is now fully tied to her and provides things she lacks by herself; just as she provides things he lacks by himself. Chaos has always been tied to her and provides additional intuition when dealing with things that she might not be able to pin down.

Somewhat like Luke Skywalker, she had a crazy Obi Wan Kenobi-style mentor in England in the form of Marsden; but there’s a lot to be learned when a character trains someone else. Enter Rey Solis (finally opening the barrier between him and Harper and giving an official conduit for mysterious cases to come to Harper’s door through a police insider) whose wife seems to have the Greywalker ability—but the possibility of going mad if she’s not trained. My assumption in this is that she’s to become Harper’s pupil and an additional tie for Solis’ loyalty to Harper?

I have to say it’s unlikely at this point. Harper is not sure enough of her own abilities to mentor anyone. Early on I rejected an editor’s ideas that Harper should be part of a team since I don’t see her as a “team player.” She’s the Continental Op with ghosts and though she can work with someone, I can’t see her being patient and secure enough to mentor anyone in the near future. But she has developed a community or family of sorts—which has been part of the long-term goal for the series—to watch Harper become a more balanced and connected person, even if she’s not really “normal.”

Which brings us up to one of the intriguing facts about Greywalkers: that each has a special gift or power. Tell us a bit more about that?

Harper’s particular talent is Persuasion, which can manifest as people being more willing to assist her or answer her questions truthfully, or it can manifest as luck when she “persuades” the flow of the Grey. It doesn’t necessarily win her friends, however, and she doesn’t do it consciously very often—it’s a lot of work—but it’s still there. Marsden’s ability was something to do the manipulation of Time in the Grey, but none of them were ever sure.

Finally, while I’ve been a big fan of moving past the vampire core that Harper first had to deal with, I find that I miss everybody’s favorite vampire necromancer, Carlos, so I’m quite excited he’s coming back in the next book. Any likelihood that he might become an official part of the Team Greywalker, rather than one of her assets (to use spy lingo)?

*laugh* Oh, you are so going to love the next two books….

Ghostly inspirations for Greywalker (with a few artistic liberties taken on our part).

Ghostly inspirations for Greywalker (with a few artistic liberties taken on our part). [Undoctored photo by Kat Richardson.]

Conclusion.

Thanks so much for spending this time with us, Kat! For our readers who’d like to learn more about you and your series, which websites should they check out? Also, as many of our readers are big animal lovers, what sites would you recommend for those who’d like to learn more about ferrets?

It’s been a lot of fun. If your readers want to know more about Harper, they can always visit my own website or FaceBook page and I believe there’s a fan-maintained Wiki about the Greywalker series too. If you want to know more about ferrets or the ferret legalization efforts in California, start with Adopt a Ferret 101 and also Ferrets Anonymous. Although if you just want to see something fun, try the Ferret Squad movie trailer (Archived with Wayback Machine); it’s cute!

Thanks for letting me chatter, Jeremy!

Thank you for chattering, Kat! You’ve been a delight! I’m sure will be talking to you again in the future about new books and maybe seeing if you want to provide color commentary on some gothic themed events in your Westcoast neighborhood! 

Author: JT Hanke

J.T. Hanke is the founder and former editor of DarkestGoth Magazine. Stepping down as editor in 2019, he currently serves as its technical adviser and a contributing writer.

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