If you’re just tuning into our interview series with Greywalker creator and author, Kat Richardson, you’ll probably want to check out 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 continue our interview, we discuss with Ms. Richardson where she came up with some of the deathly inspirations for her series!
Inspirations & Comparisons.
The concept of brushes with death that transform a person are found in all cultures, seeming to reinforce Jung’s ideas of universal core symbols and ideas. What areas, works, or ideas most influenced your creation of the Greywalker world, do you think?
I’ve had the kernel of the Greywalker stories walking around with me for a long time. I can probably blame my dad for some of it, since he used to read my sister and me Greek myths for bed time stories. Hades and Persephone is a story I was familiar with from infancy. More consciously, it started with a 1970s TV show called “Randall and Hopkirk: Deceased” (it was shown in the US as “My Partner the Ghost”) which was about two London detectives and one of them happens to be dead. I always liked detective novels and I thought “what if the clients are the dead ones?” so I started there. I also read Mary Roach’s books STIFF and SPOOK, quite a few books on physics, quantum physics, and metaphysics and how they rather weirdly intersect, and there were a lot of films about Near Death Experiences (or NDEs) when I was a teen ager and young adult so the idea of brushing death and coming back was one I’d been seeing in popular culture for a while as well as a common theme in myth as well as science fiction and fantasy literature. I’m also the child of a nurse and I’ve seen dead bodies in anatomy labs–which is why I’m not a doctor or a nurse. Dead bodies are not so bad themselves, but some of the places my mind goes about how they got that way…? Creepy!
But, the concept of Death as Transformation rather than just The End is fascinating and a lot of writers and film makers have played with it. The real twist becomes the question of why some people are changed and others aren’t. Modern medical techniques bring people back from technical death all the time. Honestly. People die in hospitals or have heart attacks in malls and theaters every day and get back up and carry on with their lives because we have technology to zap their hearts and brains back up to speed. So… it’s not just having stopped for a moment that’s transformative. And that leaves an interesting conundrum to poke around with, even at a fairly light level like my books–because let us be honest and recognize that they aren’t scientific works of genius in the field of theoretical metaphysics–they’re just fun books. And I love poking at weird ideas and seeing what they do.
And you do it very well! One of my favorite elements of fantasy and science fiction literature–especially ones considered lighter–is how deeply you can actually delve into real questions and poke at ideas without people becoming offended. (I’ve had some amazingly deep conversations with my wife over commentary that Terry Pratchett weaves into Discworld, so it’s cool how each different author’s take can offer great places to hide thoughts and ideas!)
Now that we’re on to poking at things, let’s poke a bit at you. My personal theory is that when an author writes in 3rd person, they write in a way that is artificially omniscient, so all the words are chosen from scratch; however, authors who write in the first person tend to default to how they see the world, changing only those things that are needed to tell the story while leaving a lot of reflections of themselves. In what ways do you feel that Kat Richardson is most revealed in the Greywalker books?
Gosh, I hope not too much at all, though realistically, since they are my first novels, they are more closely drawn than I might care to admit. One of the difficulties with first person narration is the tendency for readers and reviewers to equate the writer with the narrator–and this is often done in a belittling way with female writers of F&SF with the “Mary Sue” concept/label–assuming that what the character thinks is what the writer thinks or wishes were true.
I am not Harper Blaine, nor would I want to be, though she is burdened with my limited ability to describe what I’ve never actually experienced but can only imagine. Poor thing. I think the thing that is most revealed about me is that… well I’m weird as hell in my quiet, hermit-like way–I mean, just look at some of the things I obviously think about. But you can say that about any writer. What isn’t revealed may be more interesting. I’m a rather silly in person in person. I’d rather say something to make you laugh than to creep you out or make you think deeply on a topic. I’m an insecure clown at heart and I don’t think that’s something that gets much direct attention in the Greywalker books.
Yeah, it’s very silly when that assumption is made, especially due to gender. Actually, your afterwards in your book do a good job at revealing your clownish and humorous natures (in addition to my earlier comments about providing fascinating facts) to your fans!
So with that caveat made and accepted, where are their similarities between Kat Richardson, writer, and Harper Blaine, character?
We both have messed up childhoods and mothers who are totally out to lunch, emotionally. And we’re both from Greater Los Angeles originally.
I and many of our readers can definitely relate to that first part. (I hadn’t realized how much of a bonding connection that forms until I started doing photography and connected with a lot of my models through that key element!) I spent a lot of time in So Cal because of family and, although I love my current home state, I must say you were smart in choosing two places to live without humidity!
So, now, where are they most different?
Harper is much more self-assured than I am. I am a huge ball of anxiety. She makes decisions. I dither. Also, I have to tell you, I have much cuter feet.
Ummm, you must excuse me for a moment! I need to fall over laughing. (You’re right, you are quite funny!)
Thank you so much for coming in and sharing with us, Kat. In our next interview, we’ll chat about how you’re able to write so much, so quickly! Before we adjourn for today, would you mind sharing again where our readers can find out more about Greywalker, Kat?