Today is the big day for readers of Kim Harrison’s Hollows series. The final book, The Witch With No Name, releases today. I received not only an advance copy of the final volume, but also a chance to interview Harrison about Rachel Morgan’s last adventure, Harrison’s favorite character, and that final flash-forward epilogue in this last book that may cause as much controversy as the end of Harry Potter.
WARNING: THERE ARE MINOR SPOILERS IN THE INTERVIEW, SAVE FOR ONE MASSIVE SPOILER AT THE END. READ AT YOUR OWN RISK.
GeekMom: When you started writing the series, did you always know how it would end?
Kim Harrison: Absolutely not! I have a very fluid writing style that’s framed by rigorous outlining, which might sound contradictory, but it isn’t. I love to plot, but I only plot out the book I’m working on, leaving the rest as a vague . . . maybe. I usually have to rewrite my outline twice per book, but I can’t get a chapter done without it. You might say it’s the Ivy in me blending with the seat-of-the-pants Rachel.
GM: Is this the last we’ll see of this cast?
KH: Pretty much, yes. I have one more short to come out. Sudden Backtrack. It’s from Al’s POV, and I can’t say why he gets to have the last word. Maybe because he’s my favorite character.
GM: Do you have a personal favorite character in the series besides Rachel?
KH: My favorite character tends to shift from book to book, depending on who is changing the most. For a long time, it was Ivy, and when she began to make smarter decisions, it shifted to Al, who had just opened up to me about his past. Trent took center stage right about Pale Demon and that road trip, but I do think that Al is my favorite. ::sigh::
GM: What, as you wrote each book, came as a surprise?
KH: A day at my desk with surprises is a very good day. I enjoy it when little quirks of the work impact the overall goal and change it. I really can’t pick anything out of each book, but that Nick turned out so bad was a huge surprise. That Marshal did the smart thing and backed away from Rachel when she got shunned was also a surprise. That Takata was Rachel’s dad was planned all along, but that he and her mom got back together was a surprise. Surprises are what keep me coming back after a hard day at the keyboard.
GM: Did you have a series bible as you wrote or did it organically develop?
KH: Unfortunately, the Hollows evolved organically. I took very few notes, which made a reread of the entire series necessary when I wrote the Hollows world book, The Hollows Insider. To this day, this is my favorite book I’ve ever worked on, since I was able to create all sorts of interesting things from birth/death/second death certificates, running passes, newspaper articles, and memos—not to mention an entirely unique storyline to tie it all together. If I had to do it all again, I’d take better notes.
GM: Did you have a plan for any of the characters that you changed due to a different vision?
KH: Absolutely. Things change all the time, but after rewrites, copy edits, and line edits, I truly don’t remember them.
GM: Along with that, did you ever consider letting, say, Jenks die due to his age?
KH: No. Not my Jenks.
GM: How did you come up with the answer for Ivy’s loss of soul that’s in The Witch With No Name?
KH: By the time I had gotten to writing The Witch With No Name, I had about three different ways I could save Ivy’s soul. I don’t want to say too much for risk of spoiling it, but the way that I ultimately went with was one I hadn’t seen coming.
That’s about par for me, but it felt good to connect all the threads and be able to answer where everything came from.
GM: Did you have to leave anything out of the series because it didn’t fit or you ran out of space?
KH: Of course! But again, I don’t really remember the particulars. I honestly can’t devote much memory to what I had to cut, or I’d lose track of what did happen, and then I’d be making mistakes. Er, more mistakes that I already have.
GM: Are you considering writing more graphic novels that will fill in the Hollows world?
KH: I had a great time scripting the two that I did, and working with the artists was fabulous, but the format didn’t give me enough dialog to say what I wanted. Maybe if I worked at it longer and got better at the graphic novel itself, I could find satisfaction, but seriously, these things are art forms, and I realized it would require too much of my time to become good at it. So I let it go.
MASSIVE SPOILERS AHEAD
GM: The last question and answer concerns the epilogue, set in the future, in which everyone gets a happy ending. And I do mean everyone. One of Trent’s daughters is married to one of the babies (now grown) that Trent and Rachel saved earlier in the series, Al shows up as a sort-of benevolent uncle, Rachel and Trent are together and have been since the events of the final book, Ivy is still alive, still with her dead vampire lover and reorganizing the vampires so that they’re well, less evil, Jenks is still alive and happy, and Trent solves the problem of he and Rachel being able to have children. It ends as Rachel and Trent finally agree to get married.
I expected some major deaths in this book. Instead, this was the equivalent of a big, warm hug. I’m pleased, but surprised and I asked Harrison about that.
GM: And about that epilogue (which I loved): What made you want to give Rachel and Trent such a happy ending?
KH: Oh, I’m a romantic at heart. That happy ending was a foregone conclusion. The tricky part was two books back when I started laying down the threads for it. I wasn’t sure how it was going to end, but I knew who was going to be there. Actually, I think I had a beach in mind, so truly it was up in the air until the very end.
So, those of you who have finished the book and the series, what did you think?