Trouble with the Cursed – New York Times best-selling author in A2 to Sign Books

Kim Harrison will be signing copies of her book at Nicola’s on June 17.

New York Times best-selling author Kim Harrison – the pseudonym of Dawn Cook – is particularly proud of the title of her 17th installment in The Hollows, her series of urban fantasy novels, which is called Trouble with the Cursed

With the exception of the first Hollows novel (2004’s Dead Witching Walking), the titles of the subsequent novels in the series are riffs on the titles of Clint Eastwood movies, which he either starred in and/or directed. Her latest takes its cue from 2012’s Trouble with the Curve

“I can’t tell you how grateful I am that he is still producing,” said Harrison, who lives outside Ann Arbor. “Even so, it’s getting harder to come up with book titles that make both me, my editor, and (the marketing office) happy. (Cursed), I think, is one of the more clever titles, but my favorite is A Fistful of Charms (a play on the title of Eastwood’s 1964 spaghetti western A Fistful of Dollars).”

Harrison will celebrate Cursed with a virtual release party on Tuesday, June 14, from 7-8 p.m. at Nicola’s Books, located at the Westgate Shopping Center in Ann Arbor. Please register to attend the virtual signing. She will also appear in-person at Nicola’s on Friday, June 17, from 5-7:45/8 p.m. to sign copies of Cursed. Registration is required

Meet Rachel Morgan

The protagonist of The Hollows is Rachel Morgan, a witch and bounty hunter from Cincinnati, where magic and supernatural creatures are prevalent. Rachel’s job is keeping the supernatural community at peace and in line. Rachel stemmed from Cook’s desire to create a character with the attraction of the “girl next door” coupled with the appeal of someone who needs to make a positive difference in the world.

“Giving her the ability to do magic makes her more interesting, and I hope that my readers walk away feeling that they can make a difference, too,” said Harrison.

Cursed features the return of Rachel’s best friend, Ivy Tamwood. In the book, Ivy must escort a deadly vampire back to Cincinnati, one who has a grudge against Rachel. Reaching out to the demon named Hodlin for assistance, Rachel learns he has his own agenda. In the end, the only way for Rachel to save herself and the city is to come to an understanding with her estranged mentor, Al. There’s just one problem: Al would sooner sell his own soul to be rid of her forever. 

“Like most of the Hollows books at this point, it’s really loose ends and unresolved issues that motivate the next book. However, having said that, I’m always inspired by what I see going on around me. As a lot of authors do, I write to figure out what’s going on in my own head, how I feel about the human condition, and how the journey impacts us. What can we do to make it better? It’s not only about vampires and witches. Not really,” explained Harrison. “In one way, every Hollows book I write is about the same thing: Rachel learning about where she fits into the world and how her actions can positively or negatively impact those around her… Rachel finds herself trusting the wrong demon, and it’s only her steadfast friendships that enable her to find a way to protect Cincinnati’s human and paranormal population from a power takeover.”

It’s Not Over 

Harrison wants to assure her readers that she has no plans to end this series.

“Absolutely not,” she said. “I’ve got another Hollows book sitting on my editor’s desk right now. It’s already slotted in the schedule for next June, which I think is a great time for a book to come out.”

She planned to end the series in 2014 with the release of The Witch with No Name. However, she realized that she had more stories about Rachel to tell. 

“At the time, I felt as if I had wrapped the story up nicely and I wanted to stretch my writing muscles by working with something outside the Hollows universe. But the Hollows was always there. After a while, I realized there were a few stories left to tell from Rachel’s perspective. I had grown, and Rachel was not the same person she had been when the series started. When I went back to her POV, it felt like coming home,” she recalled.

Rachel has also appeared in two graphic novels, as well as several short stories and novellas. The Hollows’ rights have been optioned for television, but Harrison really couldn’t say too much. 

Author Kim Harrison will sign copies of her latest novel at Nicola’s Books in Ann Arbor on Friday, June 17. Photo by Myra Klarman.

Queen of Delayed Gratification

“There is no immediate information I can give you about the proposed TV series. My option with my film agent has been renewed, but I’ve always been a firm believer that because of the Hollows’ judicious mix of complicated relationships and heavy paranormal mythologies, that it’s going to take someone who likes a Big. Whopping. Juicy. Rewarding. Challenge,” she said. “After nearly 20 books, the Hollows is a full course meal that only someone who already has a grasp of science-based paranormal rules will enjoy. And, yet, having said that, the story is as simple as a pixie, a witch, and a vampire walking into a bar. You can enjoy it on all levels, but to create it, you need to know what you’re doing, or the learning curve is rather daunting. I’m hopeful. I like saying that I’m the Queen of Delayed Gratification, but I would like to see this monster on the screen while I can still enjoy the process.”

Harrison wrote Cursed “dead center of the pandemic from start to finish.” This book was much easier to write than Million Dollar Demon, also written during the pandemic.

“Looking back on it, the work felt easier simply because I’ve been finding it easier to concentrate,” she said. “The people in my circle are all vaccinated, and that gave me a feeling of control that the first year of COVID-19 lacked. Writers spend so much time in their heads, you’d think it would be easy to put COVID-19 on a shelf and write, but that’s not how it works. I’ve been finding that my concentration and my confidence in making plot decisions has gotten markedly better the last six months. My coping techniques, too, have evolved, because – let’s face it – bad stuff doesn’t take a vacation and if you don’t get a handle on it, it will break you.”

She spoke about the best part of writing this novel…

“(Bringing) back old characters that both my readers and I miss,” said Harrison. “Though it’s not as fast as some might like, Ivy is making her way into the storyline again. I also cemented that the church, a central part of the earlier books, was going to remain. Much of the Hollows’ charm is the locations themselves and getting to research a few places for the next book was a joy.”

…And the most challenging.

“(Juggling) the current storyline with where I think want the series to go,” said Harrison. “Unlike the earlier 14 books, I am now writing much closer to my deadline and it’s harder for me to go back and make changes if I get a book down one way and decide I’d rather have handled a situation differently. I have to be more flexible and work harder at keeping things simple.”

First Signing Since the Pandemic

Harrison is looking forward to attending Nicola’s in what is her first signing since the pandemic. 

“I’m excited even though it won’t be run like one of my usual events,” she said.

Harrison will personalize up to two books/person. Weather permitting, the signing will be outdoors under the eaves. No masks are required. 

However, if the signing is moved inside due to inclement weather, masks will be required. If customers have preordered a book to be signed, they cannot pick them up at the event. All preorders will be mailed. Copies of Cursed will also be available for purchase the evening of the signing.

“I am thrilled to be going back to my home store in Ann Arbor for my first post-pandemic signing June 17,” said Harrison. “Nicola’s has been working with me for the last decade helping to get personalized, signed books out to people who can’t make it to an event, and that I am going to be among their very first in-person events has put the spark in this book’s release. I truly enjoy my readers, and I can’t wait to see some of them again. It won’t be one of my usual signings with our traditional ‘family photo’ with the book T-shirts or the crowded room with the Q&A, but the chance to take back the signing table feels like a victory.”

For questions or more information about Harrison’s events, call Nicola’s Books at (734) 662-0600.  Nicola’s Books is located at 2509 Jackson Ave, Ann Arbor.

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