Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Favorite Firsts Interview with Carolyn Crane - Author of Mind Games

Please welcome to Darkly Reading the lovely author and blogger Carolyn Crane. If you haven't guessed by now her book Mind Games (my review) was one of my favorite books so far in 2010!

First of all, Happy Birthday, Heather! Thanks for having me for your fabulous firsts event! I feel very honored. I hope you have a wonderful year of books, blogging (and excellent real life stuff, of course).

Your book, Mind Games, has kind of a comic book feel with the creation of a city that is modern but fantasy (Midcity is like a less dark version of Gotham City), a group of humans (the highcaps) that it is theorized to have gained their powers by way of environmental pollutant induced genetic changes, and a shadowy group of vigilantes that work for the greater good (the disillusionists) - was that your plan with your world-building - to build it with a comic book feel or did it just turn out that way? Are you a reader of comic books - any favorites?

I love your description of it! I didn’t grow up with a major comic book thing, but I consumed a lot of wacky 1970’s TV after school, like Get Smart, Batman, Wonder Woman, Six Million Dollar Man, graduated to action adventure movies. And I was the biggest Nancy Drew junkie ever. So, I feel like I’m coming out of more of an adventure tradition.  That said, I was heavy into Judge Dredd comic books for some time, and I know that’s in Mind Games a bit.

Midcity is a character on it’s own (it even has it's own website) - did you build "the tangle" based on any "favorite" traffic mess in the cities Midcity is based on? What cities did you base Midcity on?


Midcity is a blend of the fantastical Chicago/Milwaukee of my childhood imagination. Basically, I grew up in suburbs of Chicago and Milwaukee. Once a year or so, we’d pack into the station wagon and head to a downtown museum, so all I ever knew of Chicago, and later Milwaukee, besides museums, was the dark, magical, foreboding stuff out the windows—giant highway loops, screaming metal bridges, towering buildings, masses of people who looked nothing like they did in the suburbs. Chicago in particular was like the city version of the enchanted forest to me, full of danger and exciting possibility.

The tangle has a bit of “the spaghetti bowl” in it (a Chicago highway exchange) but it’s also based on some highway exchanges encountered on car trips to Florida.

This is one of the first more urban fantasy books I've read that have a love square..or maybe love star going on - are you going to start making Team shirts for Packard, Sanchez or maybe even Cubby? Which man have your readers loved the most? Do you have any particular actors in mind when you think about the characters (I think of Benjamin Bratt for Sanchez)?


Actually, I’ve had some people split into “team cucumber” and “team kebab.” I totally loved that, though I feel bad that one of those teams will be losing. In a big way. What’s interesting is that in my mind the hero seems totally evident to me - I was actually surprised anybody went on the team of the one who is not the hero. Though, I won’t be saying who that is. But, it will be plain by the end of Book 2.

Cubby? LOL. Poor Cubby is out.  I like the idea of Benjamin Bratt as Otto, though I’ve always pictured Otto as a larger man, like Raul Julia (RIP). And, Kevin McKidd would make a fine Packard.

I love the idea of the disillusionists - truthfully I think I would be most susceptible to Justine's power since I'm a bit of a hypochondriac myself - which disillusionist would you be most susceptible too? Which one is your favorite? Will we meet any new disillusionists in future books?


I would be most susceptible to Helmut, because I can easily get darkly obsessed about current events, though I have a bit of hypochondriac in me, too. My fave is probably Shelby. I love to write her lines.  

How did you come up with the idea?

The way it happened is that I had just read a hugely depressing sort of philosophical book (Straw Dogs by John Gray) that takes a dismal view of humanity. It made me feel really awful, and I thought, if I had an enemy, I would give them this book as a gift, so that they could feel as disillusioned as I did. In fact, I actually recommended it to somebody I was mad at. Then I thought, what if there were people who disillusioned other people for money?  Hey, that would make a great fantasy book!

How did you come up with the ideas for vein star syndrome and Osiris virus? Are they based on real diseases? Also how does a rakishly worn beret protect your head from bumps that can lead to an onslaught of the vein star syndrome - unless beret is made of hard hat material?


To a hypochondriac, diseases are just a version of monsters in the closet, so I didn’t need to use real ones. Plus, I never want to seem like I’m mocking real health issues, which are scary and hard for so many people. That said, they all contain a grain of true diseases. Vein star syndrome is a fancy brain hemorrhage, and there  really is a skin condition like Osiris - it’s called Morgellons. I don’t suggest Googling it. It’s kind of a freaker. 

On the beret, it doesn’t protect the head. It’s a clothing form of placebo for Otto.

Will there be new evil masterminds like the brick slinger from Mind Games in future books - any teasers you can give us about Double Cross? Your series is listed as a trilogy - are you hoping to write any more books beyond the first three in the setting of Midcity?

Teasers: Okay, in Double Cross, there’s this trio of serial killers going after highcaps—they are immune to highcap powers, and Packard, Otto and all their friends are in great danger. Justine makes some hard choices about what she is doing with her life. Also Otto and Packard evolve a lot: one is on a journey of redemption, and the other “descends into a pit of moral depravity.” (that’s from the unreleased back blurb)  I won’t say which guy is on which journey.

I may do short pieces beyond book #3 - definitely one for Simon.

If you were trapped in Mongolian Delights by your archenemy (like Packard is) - what would be required for you to survive your incarceration? Also what foods would be required to be served on the menu?


Oh, boy! That is a great question. I would want to be in a Mexican restaurant instead of Mongolian Delites for sure. The menu can’t be changed once a person is trapped, but maybe beforehand, could we put some burritos on the menu? And, hopefully my computer and my cats could be there. And, if my husband would come visit, then it would more or less duplicate my life in my office.

Great answers Carolyn - I would also chose to be trapped in a Mexican restaurant! Mmmmh fajitas and burritos every day - I think I would grow a big food belly!

Please stop by Carolyn's blog, website, and you can follow her on twitter too! And don't forget you can enter to win her book in my favorite firsts giveaway so make sure to sign up!

The questions today are (if you don't have questions for Carolyn) - what disillusionist would you be most susceptible to - hypochondriac, negative world view, gambling, anger issues, etc.? Or are you team kebab or team cucumber (go team cucumber!) ?

20 comments:

Patti said...

You recommended a book that depressed you to someone you were mad at? That's awesome!!!!

Not entering, I've already read and LOVED this book :)

Carolyn Crane said...

Heather! Thanks again for having me over to prattle on all about myself on your birthday! Seriously, this was really fun. And yay for Mexican food!

Patti: Sometimes I think maybe I shouldn't go around telling that!! LOL.

Gigi's Consignment Closet said...

"You recommended a book that depressed you to someone you were mad at?"
That is true evil. I love it!!
The disillusionist I would be most susceptible to would probably be anger issues.
Enter me please.
ggs.consignment.closet(AT)gmail(DOT)com

Bethany C. said...

The book looks great-definitely on my wish list. I just wanted to say I like your glasses. Probably because they look just like mine.

Karen said...

Fantastic interview Heather!! Great questions (and answers Carolyn)...now I must read Mind Games!

Blodeuedd said...

Hi Heather :)
I followed Carolyn here and found a nice blog I have not see before, awesome.
I really should stop stalking CJ and just buy that book ;)

Oh it would be the hypochondriac, I am such a worryworry.

Smokinhotbooks said...

*pinky wave* just stopping by ;)

I'm in hearts with this series.

Chris said...

Just stopping by to say hi!

Melissa said...

Sounds like a great book. I've been wanting to read Mind Games for a while now. Love that name... cucumber. :)

Sarah said...

Great interview - I really must get hold of a copy of Mind Games, it sounds fab! Without reading the book I'd have to guess that the disillusionist I'd be most susceptible to would probably be hypochondriac. I'm not sure which team I'd be on but I'm going to have to read the book to find out :o)

Christine said...

I just got the book today! Now after reading your interview, I´m so excited that I have to read it next!
As for the disillusionist, I´m afraid I would be susceptible to negative world view...
Great interview!
Thanks so much!

Zombie Joe said...

Which disillusionist? I would have to go anger. I could totally rock some "Zombie Smash!" ala Hulk.

For Carolyn my question is, for a Wisconsinite transplant what is with the hatin' on the cheese curds? Is that how you show your heritage? :P

SusiSunshine said...

OMG LOL such an evil mind in Carolyn. I would have never guessed that. ;)

A hypochondriac for me too...I can be a bit whimsy from time to time.

And question for Carolyn: How did you come up with the names for you characters? Baby name book? Where did you get Helmut from? Makes me think of BFs granpa. LOL

Heather (DarklyReading) said...

@Carolyn - mexican food is the biggest thing I miss from California now that I'm on the east coast - it's just not as good!

@Patti & Tori - you can use books as secret weapons.. I like it ;)

@Bethany - I like them too - mine are similar as well ;)

@Karen & Blodeudd- thanx for stopping by!

@K.C. - are you team cucumber or kebab?

@Chris - thx for visiting!

@Melissa - it's definitely a unique read - you're gonna love it!

@Sarah - yup I would be susceptible to the hypochondriac as well..just wait till you read the book - you'll start thinking you have vein star syndrome!

@Christine - I hope you like it! Negative world view is a tough one too!

Candace said...

Sounds like a great book! I would probably become most susceptible to hypochondria.

Loved the interview!
And thanks for the giveaway!

candace_redinger(at)yahoo(dot)com

Cecile said...

OMG... this is an awesome interview!!! You ladies rock!!!!
Please enter me in for this one!!
alliwantandmorebooks@gmail.com

Stella (Ex Libris) said...

Thanks for the great interview Carolyn and thanks for the interesting questions Heather!

Mind Games is my next read, can't wait as I've heard so many people praise it. Also I'm very curious about that love square everybody keeps mentioning, don't think I've ever seen one.

Sorry, from those disillusionist character traits you mentioned I'm neither: I'm peaceful and a true optimist, bordering on idealist. Will get back to you once I've read the book, maybe there is something I will recognize in myself :-)

Oh no, Carolyn, that behind the scenes secret how you got the idea for Mind Games is brilliant! You have to tell it :-D

Heather (DarklyReading) said...

@Zombie Joe - I would like to see a hulk zombie..i mean hulk is already green and monosyllabic so maybe he is a super-strength zombie...and how could someone not like cheese curds..they squeak when you eat them and are made of cheese - win-win!

@Susi - Helmut is such a good character name!

@Candace and Cecili - glad you ladies liked the interview!

@Stella - I hope you like the book - you'll have to let me know if you change your mind on being disillusioned after reading the book!

Carolyn Crane said...

Hey! Oh, it's fun reading about everybody's susceptibilities to disillusionists. I see a lot of hypochondriacs out there, but also, current events and anger LOL. And one person who might be immune...she thinks.

And I see questions!

Zombie Joe: Um, what kind of question is that? LOL. I think, cheese curds don't properly showcase the greatness of Wisconsin cheese.

Susi: On names, some of them I chose for the way the root word relates to the character (Justine - justice, Sterling Packard...tarnished on the outside, but mostly pure) but others, I just went with ones that sounded good. I have used baby books, too!

Cathy M said...

Great interview. I've already read this story, so don't enter me.

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