Why did you decide to end the Signs of the Zodiac series with the new sixth book, The Neon Graveyard?
It’s not even really a decision that I made—it was more of a result of the story requirements. It was just the natural time for it. My editor and I had discussed writing some more in the series, but upon looking at it, it just didn’t make sense to extend the series just for the sake of extending it. I was very passionate about all six books in the series and very passionate about where my main character [Joanna]’s story arc was going. And this was ending it. A lot of times an author will start another, say, a trilogy with the same characters and just a new mystery or a new story to go along with it, and I just couldn’t see myself doing it. She’s gone on such a long, hard, fast journey, and it was always her story. It just felt right.
Have you experienced any fan backlash over the series ending?
No. More than anything, I’ve gotten, “I’m going to miss Joanna, I’m going to miss the world and the characters in it,” which I totally understand—I am, too. It really feels like kind of a graduation, where everybody’s kind of like, okay, now this chapter is closed, it has a definitive close, and now everybody’s going off and doing their own thing and trying to create something new from this foundation. And who knows, you might run into them a couple years from now on Facebook or something. But for now the characters just aren’t speaking to me anymore.
Do you imagine you might return to these characters at some point in the future?
Right now I don’t, but I’ve heard authors say that before, and then they do return to it a few years later, so I don’t know where I’m going to be in a few years. So if the characters or Joanna in particular starts talking to me again, then never say never. But not right now. Right now the answer’s no.
What will you miss most about working on the Zodiac series?
It’s gotta be Joanna. It’s gotta be that main character. Everything about the Zodiac world moved through her, and through her understanding of it and vision of it. And the series is six books, but it all took place in just over one year’s time. So even though readers had to wait a year between books, for her it was happening fast and furious, and she was trying to get acclimated to this new paranormal underworld, so we got to see everything from her perspective. So I’m definitely going to miss her. I’ve enjoyed seeing how she changed. She was so intractable in the beginning, and she was so tough and unyielding. And then by the end she’s kind of realized if you don’t bend sometimes you break. I’ve learned a lot from exploring that with her. It’s been really emotional, too, to say goodbye. First I thought I was ready, and you just feel relief when you turn in that book, but now with all the readers commenting on it and saying how much they’re going to miss her, it’s really kind of touched home with me, that I’m really done with it.
What’s your next project?
I’m so passionate about it. As soon as I started working on my current book—it’s called The Taken, and it’s the first book in my new Celestial Blues series. I was able to just go crazy again, building a whole new world. I would call it more of a paranormal mystery or paranormal noir. It features a supernatural P.I. and a rockabilly reporter. It’s also set here in Las Vegas. They team up to solve crimes that are current, and also an old crime that has been haunting him. I just handed in the first draft, and I’m doing edits on it now, so that’s going to be out probably spring next year.
Do you ever worry about getting burned out working at such a quick pace?
No, because I write every day anyway. If you’re writing every single day, then it’s not the writing that gives you burnout. I think if you’re just not interested in the work, you would get burnout. I felt some fatigue near the end of the fifth [Zodiac] book especially. Like, “Really, there’s two more of these to write? Oh my gosh.” And I think that’s also a product of how dark the story was. My new trilogy still has a lot of the elements of dark fantasy and noir elements, but the main female character isn’t quite as dark.
The new series is also set in Las Vegas?
It is. I couldn’t leave Las Vegas. The people who don’t know Vegas, even people who’ve never been here before, tend to comment a lot on the Vegas aspect. They say a lot of the prose reads a little bit like a love letter to the city. And my hope was always that Vegas would be another character in the books, that you really feel and see it in a different way. Everyone has this idea of what Vegas is, or what it is to them, and it’s usually very one-dimensional. And also it can be really annoying as a local, because this is also the place that we call home. So I always wanted to show a little bit of what I love about the city, even doing it with a paranormal series.