Thursday, February 15, 2018

0 Rachel Caine and Ann Aguirre, authors of HONOR AMONG THIEVES, on the importance of being true to yourself

We're thrilled to have the New York Times bestselling writing duo Rachel Caine and Ann Aguirre chat with us about their new series, HONOR AMONG THIEVES.

Since we have both authors on the blog, we'll have Rachel answer our questions first.

Rachel, what scene was really hard for you to write and why, and is that the one of which you are most proud? Or is there another scene you particularly love?

I think, without tipping any spoilers here, the scene toward the end where Zara, Beatriz, and Nadim all realize the real stakes they’re playing for, and what game they’re really in ... that was both hard, and incredibly powerful. It was painful stuff, but at the same time, very emotionally charged.

I don’t know that there are any scenes I didn’t love while writing this book. Working with Ann is really such a dream job. We are having so much fun telling this story.

What book or books would most resonate with readers who love your book--or visa versa?

There are a whole wild, wonderful crop of space-based YA adventure stories coming in the next couple of years, and I think any or all of them would be fantastic companions for this adventure. If I throw myself into the Wayback Machine, I’d recommend Anne McCaffrey’s THE SHIP WHO SANG, and what the heck, throw in Douglas Adams’ LIFE, THE UNIVERSE, AND EVERYTHING because we are having so much fun with our space adventures.

How long did you work on HONOR AMONG THIEVES?

It was FAST. A matter of months from concept to completion of the first draft! We did a couple of editorial rounds, of course, to really refine things, but all in all, it’s very true to our original vision. Writing with Ann is a delight.

What did this book teach you about writing or about yourself?

Every book teaches me something, and this really reconnected me with my SF fangirl roots. It’s everything I love about space opera, reluctant heroes, found families ... all my tropes, together.

What do you hope readers will take away from HONOR AMONG THIEVES?

I really hope they’ll realize that there are different kinds of love, and that doesn’t mean one is more or less real than another. Zara and Nadim are not the same, but they have an undeniable, real connection. So do Zara and Beatriz. And we hope readers open their minds and hearts to all kinds of differences ... just as Zara and Bea do along the way.

What's your writing ritual like? Do you listen to music? Work at home or at a coffee shop or the library, etc?

I’m a playlist fiend. Before I start a book, I have to spend days choosing new music, crafting it into an emotional arc that mirrors what I feel the book is going to be, and only THEN can I start writing. I really love the funky new-music vibe of the Honor Among Thieves soundtrack.

I tend to work in my ergonomic space, only because I worked in NOT ergonomic spaces for so long that my body made its wishes loudly known about that. I sometimes still sneak out to the coffee shop, though!

What are you working on now?

I’m splitting my time between YA and adult thrillers, so I’m currently working on WOLFHUNTER RIVER, which is the third in my Stillhouse Lake series of psychological mystery/thrillers. After that, I’m on to the fifth and last book of my Great Library series in YA. And, of course, the third book in the Honors series!

And now let's have Ann chime in. Ann, what was your inspiration for writing HONOR AMONG THIEVES?

Honestly, I had been thinking that I wanted to write a really strange romance, where one of the partners wasn't even humanoid, so I randomly tweeted "Why do I suddenly want to write a book about a girl who's in love with a sentient spaceship?"

I got a surprising reply from Rachel Caine: "Are we sharing a brain? I just did a proposal for this!"

At hearing this, I was somewhat downcast because if Rachel was already in the proposal stage, then there was no way I'd be doing this idea. But then, she reached out to me privately and said her proposal was really rough and not on submission anywhere. Would I like to see it?

MOST DEFINITELY. And her ideas all dovetailed with mine completely, and I just started giving her my thoughts. Soon, she asked me to partner with her on the project and I was so excited. I got to work with one of my writing heroes and create a weird, wonderful book!

What scene was really hard for you to write and why, and is that the one of which you are most proud? Or is there another scene you particularly love?

The scene where Nadim is disciplined by an Elder Leviathan was tough and painful to write. We had to tap into Zara's history of abuse and that also reminded me of some bad stuff in my past. It's important to feel what your characters are feeling, but when they suffer, I suffer, and this scene was really intense. I'm one of those writers who often types through my tears, so it can be hard to excavate those dark spaces for the deepest pain, but hopefully, that comes across on the page and moves readers as well.

How long did you work on HONOR AMONG THIEVES?

All told, probably six months or so. We drafted it in a couple of months, then rewrote it several times (over the course of many months).

What did this book teach you about writing or about yourself?

It taught me that writing with Rachel Caine makes everything better, and that it's much harder on my own.

What do you hope readers will take away from HONOR AMONG THIEVES?

That it's important to be true to yourself, even if the rest of the world doesn't understand, and that love has the ability to cross all kinds of barriers. There's not one right way to love, either.

How long or hard was your road to publication? How many books did you write before this one, and how many never got published?

It was long. I wrote off and on from age fifteen to thirty-six. At twenty-one, I had an agent, but I didn't sell. Fast forward to 2007, and I finally sold a novel to Ace books. That was the science fiction romance Grimspace, and the start of a ten-year career. I wrote ten books that failed before selling that one, and at this point, I've lost count what number novel I'm writing. It's in the forties, though!

Was there an AHA! moment along your road to publication where something suddenly sank in and you felt you had the key to writing a novel? What was it?

Write for yourself. Don't aim at a trend or try to guess what might be popular. If you don't love what you write, who will?

What's your writing ritual like? Do you listen to music? Work at home or at a coffee shop or the library, etc?

I take the dog out, get something to eat, then head to my office to work until early afternoon. I feed the pets, walk around a bit, then go back to writing until 4PM. I have a snack, and often I knock off work at this time. If I haven't met my writing goal, I go back up stairs after my family has gone to bed and write a bit more. When I'm really having trouble focusing, I write on my Alphasmart Neo and disconnect from everything. Sometimes I do take it a local coffee shop, but lately, I mostly write in my office, which is perfect and gorgeous.

What advice would you most like to pass along to other writers?

If this is your dream, don't ever give up. There's no guarantee of success, but every writer who's made it has one thing in common: they didn't quit. So keep writing, keep striving, and keep following your dreams.

What are you working on now?

I just finished The Wolf Lord, the third book in my paranormal romance series, and in February, I'll start on a new YA tentatively entitled Heartwood Box.


Honor Among Thieves
by Rachel Caine and Ann Aguirre
Katherine Tegen Books
Released 2/13/2018

Petty criminal Zara Cole has a painful past that’s made her stronger than most, which is why she chose life in New Detroit instead moving with her family to Mars. In her eyes, living inside a dome isn’t much better than a prison cell.

Still, when Zara commits a crime that has her running scared, jail might be exactly where she’s headed. Instead Zara is recruited into the Honors, an elite team of humans selected by the Leviathan—a race of sentient alien ships—to explore the outer reaches of the universe as their passengers.

Zara seizes the chance to flee Earth’s dangers, but when she meets Nadim, the alien ship she’s assigned, Zara starts to feel at home for the first time. But nothing could have prepared her for the dark, ominous truths that lurk behind the alluring glitter of starlight.

Purchase Honor Among Thieves at Amazon
Purchase Honor Among Thieves at IndieBound
View Honor Among Thieves on Goodreads


Ann Aguirre is a New York Times & USA Today bestselling author with a degree in English Literature; before she began writing full time, she was a clown, a clerk, a voice actress, and a savior of stray kittens, not necessarily in that order. She grew up in a yellow house across from a cornfield, but now she lives in sunny Mexico with her husband, children, and various pets. She likes books, emo music, and action movies. She writes all kinds of genre fiction for adults and teens.

Rachel Caine is the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and USA Today bestselling author of more than 50 novels, including the Morganville Vampire series in YA, the Great Library series, and the Stillhouse Lake series in adult thrillers. She lives and works in Texas with her husband R. Cat Conrad, and loves art, books, music, TV, and movies of all kinds. She's written in nearly every genre, including screenwriting, but her first love is always science fiction.


Have you had a chance to read HONOR AMONG THIEVES yet? Six months from concept to completion is really fast! How quickly have you burned through a project? Did you find that you were true to your vision when done? Share your thoughts about the interview in the comments!

Happy Reading,

Charlotte, Jocelyn, Halli, Martina, Anisaa, Erin, Susan, Shelly, Kelly, Laura, Emily, and Lori Ann

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