Serial Killer Alert
Getting real with Chelsea Cain
Don’t depend on Wikipedia to tell you about bestselling mystery (and comedy) author Chelsea Cain. When the former Bellingham resident returns to town Aug. 27, she’ll fill Chuckanut Radio Hour attendees in on the real deal, and read from her sixth Archie Sheridan mystery, Let Me Go. Judging by her answers to our questions, she’ll also make you laugh.
Cascadia Weekly:I’m guessing the “incestuous love child, whom she’s kept in a cage in her basement” business on your Wikipedia page is something someone got by the Wikipedia censors.
Chelsea Cain: Honestly, I have not visited my Wikipedia page in years! So obviously I was surprised to hear that they had found out about my incestuous love child. Those were fun times. I must admit that after you pointed out the fact that my incestuous live child, Leper—fed only on “one pack of Ramen noodles a day”—had leaked, I decided maybe I should keep a closer eye on it.
CW: How did living in Bellingham as a kid/teen help shape your future?
CC: As I’m sure you know, Bellingham is teeming with serial killers, and also features many excellent places to dump a body. It also has a world-class bookstore and a terrific library system. I grew up utilizing both. Also, Bellingham is dark for much of the winter, and wet, and foggy, and this leaves a lot of time for sitting around inside making up stories.
CW: Do you still keep a pet cemetery?
CC: I do not. My dead pet source dried up. When I was a kid, all the other kids in the neighborhood would bring me pets, and I made a project out of bringing home dead birds. My old pet cemetery is in the front yard of a house on Forest Street that was demolished years ago. They built a new house in its place, and I’ve always wondered what the builders thought when they dug up the yard and found all those tiny skeletons.
CW: When did you realize you could combine humor and horror for maximum effect?
CC: Thrillers and comedies both require setups and payoffs. It’s all about pacing, about what you reveal, when, and how. So they are more closely linked than you’d think. Before I wrote thrillers, I wrote humor books. I try to incorporate humor into the books, because otherwise it’s just too grim. Besides, if you can’t laugh at taking someone’s small intestine out with a crochet hook, what can you laugh at?
CW: When you’re writing a book that’s part of a series, do you always have to be thinking ahead to the next novel when you’re writing the current one?
CC: Yes. And more pressingly, you have to be looking behind. I’m six books into this, so there is a lot to keep track of in terms of continuity. It’s getting to be a challenge to figure out fresh ways to kill people.
CW: How many Archie Sheridan books do you plan on writing?
CC: Fifty-seven. Or as many as I can finish before I am told by everyone to stop.
CW: Do you see any of yourself in Gretchen Lowell? How about Archie?
CC: Gretchen is much more beautiful, charismatic, witty and cunning than I am. She is my favorite character to write, because for a megalomaniac psychopath she’s pretty fabulous. We probably share some of the same control issues. Archie and I have very little in common. This is one of the things that makes him fascinating to me.
CW: Why should Bellingham come see you when you come (back) to town?
CC: I will be wearing a blood-spattered nurse costume, so there’s that.