Author Kim Harrison, who grew up in Northern Michigan, describes herself as a â€œgeeky girl with my nose in a bookâ€. However, the books she read were not your typical young adult books. Harrison, who writes edgy, urban-fantasy novels with a brew of magic, vampires, witches, warlocks and other creatures read the likes of Arthur C. Clarke, Ray Bradbury, Robert Heinlein and Anne McCaffrey.
And the influences of those literary icons show in her eight novels featuring the red-headed vampire bounty hunter, Rachael Morgan.
Now, Harrison is coming home to Michigan as part of a national book tour for the release of her new book, â€œBlack Magic Sanctionâ€. This time Rachael is on the run from her own kind-witches who feel sheâ€™s gotten just a little chummy with their enemies.
â€œIâ€™ve been waiting for a long time to come back to Michigan,â€ she said. In a literary sense, she returned in her fourth series book â€œFistful of Charmsâ€ which is set in Mackinac City and on Bois Blanc Island and includes dramatic underwater diving and what she calls â€œthe big bridgeâ€. The majority of her books are set in the fictional Cincinnati neighborhood called Hollows which was chosen after her editor told her to pick a real city to use as a backdrop. Read more about Harrison and here books at her website by clicking here.
â€œI told her Iâ€™m not a city girl. I canâ€™t write big city.â€
Harrison was wrong about that and although she lives in South Carolina she visits Cincinnati twice a year to do research for her books. She says Cincinnati was chosen because it has a lot of ways to get into it (and out of) which is important for bounty hunters; it has an underground tunnel system which is used in her books and it is far from the ocean.
Harrison said the distance from the ocean is important since salt causes problems with the magic which is used profusely throughout her books.
In the first book in the series, â€œDead Witch Walkingâ€ which debuted in 2004, Harrison was able to have input on the name and subsequent novels also played off Clint Eastwood Spaghetti westerns with clever monikers such as â€œFor a Few Demons Moreâ€, â€œA Fistful of Charmsâ€, â€œThe Good, the Bad and the Undeadâ€, and the â€œOutlaw Demon Wailsâ€.
Harrison says her writing was â€œright on the cuspâ€ of the explosion of paranormal books. She cited paranormal writers Laurell Hamilton, Jim Butcher and Charlaine Harris as clearing a path for her books to be elevated to New York Times Best Selling status.
One reason for her booksâ€™ popularity is they are, as she describes her own protagonist, â€œsassyâ€ and â€œsexyâ€. And letâ€™s not forget how Rachael. In â€œFistful of Charmsâ€, Rachael spits out white fir while yelling, â€œGame over bitch.â€ Rachael also turns out to be quite a shopper at what are called charm outlets which carry quite different offerings from the typical outlet mall.
Initially, Harrison said her fan base was primarily women, but now itâ€™s about 80-20 women to men.
â€œMy favorite readers are mom, dad and a teenager,â€ she said.
Among males Harrison said she is especially popular with members of the military and police officers.
In addition to her showy, action-packed books, Harrison knows how to promote her own books. With each book she creates a memento to give away to fans. For her current book it is a key from Alcatraz (a location in the book) and in the past sheâ€™s given away a Hollows Bus Token.
â€œI wanted to find something tangible I could give my readers,â€ she said.
Unlike some authors, Harrison said she loves book tours.
â€œIâ€™m on FaceBook all the time and Iâ€™m going to meet people Iâ€™ve been communicating with.â€
She said the most difficult part of writing for her is in keeping track of past history especially with eight novels in the series.
â€œI have to make sure my characters are not tripping over each other especially when it comes to working with magic â€“you have to keep it straight.â€
Her next book is a repeat of a popular American literary theme-the great American road trip. For research, she and her family left Cincinnati for a cross-country trip to the West coast and along the way fought vampires and worked magic. A little different from Kerouacâ€™s odyssey, but I always wondered about Moriarty.
The successful adult-fiction author has also just released her first young adult novel featuring a 17 year old girl who is caught between good and evil and life and death.
Harrison will visit Ann Arbor (February 26); Lansing (February 27) and Grand Rapids (February 28). For full tour details click here.