Guest Blog & Giveaway: Rachel Vincent on killing characters & win BEFORE I WAKE

June 15, 2012 Giveaways, Guests 120

One of our favorite authors is joining us today: Rachel Vincent!  A master of both adult and YA paranormal, Rachel is celebrating the upcoming release of the sixth book in the Soul Screamers series, BEFORE I WAKE (available on June 26th from Harlequin Teen).  My review is coming soon.  You can win a copy of BEFORE I WAKE and enter to win the Grand Prize of a Soul Screamers ipod nano! Enter via the widget below.

Killing Characters


Rachel Vincent

Before I Wake (Soul Screamers, #6)Like most authors, I am asked questions by readers all the time. Like, every single day for the past five years, since before my first book hit the shelf. Most of those questions fall into one of three categories. Questions about publishing, questions about my characters’ relationships, and questions demanding to know why I killed off a favorite character.

That last one is one of my favorite questions ever, because when readers mourn the loss of a fictional character, I feel like I’ve done my job well. Like I’ve created characters people actually care about, and hate to lose. Answering that question, though is a little complicated, because that one’s actually two questions in one.

The first part of that question seems to be, “Rachel, why do you kill characters you worked so hard to make us fall in love with?”

In truth, I kill lots of characters no one really cares about, too. Faceless victims in several Shifters books. Teenagers we never really got to know in Soul Screamers. And syndicate guards and such in the Unbound books. I also kill off bad guys people love to hate, in all three series, and generally, people cheer when that happens.

Overall, the body count in most of my books is pretty high, which shouldn’t be surprising, because I don’t write light fiction. My stories are typically pretty dark, and even the Soul Screamers series, which started out a little lighter than my adult books, has grown darker with each successive story. But I get the most mail when I kill off a beloved character.

Soul Screamers Vol. 1 : My Soul to Lose • My Soul to Take • My Soul to SaveSo, why do I kill off characters loved by readers? There are two reasons. First, I tend to write dark, violent worlds, and though my characters often have abilities real people will never have, they’re not superheroes. They’re still vulnerable. It wouldn’t make sense for them to keep putting themselves in extreme danger and always walk away unscathed. If the characters constantly defy death for no logical reason, readers would start to question the credibility of the world I’ve created as well as my credibility as a writer.

In real life, good guys die too. As in life, so in fiction—even in fantasy.

Beyond that, if the only people who die in a book are the characters we have no emotional attachment to, those deaths are meaningless. Readers need to feel loss just as the viewpoint character does, and that doesn’t happen if they don’t care about the characters who die.

That said, I’ve never intentionally killed a character just to trigger that feeling of loss in readers, but I don’t shy away from it either. My number one rule about the death of major characters is that the loss must serve the story. If it also serves to further connect the reader and the viewpoint character through shared loss…well, that’s even better. 😉

The second part of that original question seems to be, “Rachel, why did you kill that particular character?”

Soul Screamers Vol. 2 : My Soul to Keep • Reaper • My Soul to Steal That’s a difficult question to answer in general terms, but I will say this: I only permanently kill off characters who have already done all they can for the series plot arc or to further the main character’s development.

If you’ve read Shifters and/or Unbound, you’ll know that all deaths in those worlds are real and permanent. If you read Soul Screamers, you’ll understand that not all deaths in that world are “permanent,” and that makes this question even more difficult to answer. But my rule remains intact, even in the Soul Screamers world. Those who meet their permanent end were chosen because they had already contributed everything they had to contribute to the story.

Yes, there are several permanent deaths in Before I Wake. Yes, at least one of those deaths is devastating for Kaylee, and—if I’ve done my job right—for readers as well.

So…apologies in advance if you go through a few tissues reading this one. I went through more than a few while writing it. 😉

 Catch all the stops on the BEFORE I WAKE tour!

Monday, June 11th- Fiktshun – Rachel’s Top 5 Soul Screamers Scenes
Wednesday, June 13th – Harlequin Paranormal Blog
Friday, June 15th- All Things Urban Fantasy

Monday, June 18th  – I’m Just Sitting Here and Read
Tuesday, June 19th Book Birthday –  Book Soulmates
Wednesday, June 20th – Late Bloomer Online
Friday, June 22nd – Mimi Valentine

Monday, June 25th – Tynga’s Reviews
Wednesday, June 27th – The Page Turners
Friday, June 29th- A Cupcake and A Latte

 A resident of San Antonio, Rachel Vincent has a BA in English and an overactive imagination, and consistently finds the latter to be more practical. She shares her workspace with two black cats (Kaci and Nyx) and her # 1 fan. Rachel is older than she looks-seriously-and younger than she feels, but remains convinced that for every day she spends writing, one more day will be added to her lifespan.


Giveaway provided by Harlequin Teen via Kismet book Touring
Daily Prize: One copy of BEFORE I WAKE by Rachel Vincent
Grand Prize:  a pink iPod nano engraved with “Soul Screamers”!

Please note that both the daily and grand prize give-aways are for US/Canada participants only.  See full contest rules here.



I died on a Thursday-killed by a monster intent on stealing my soul

The good news? He didn’t get it

The bad news? Turns out not even death will get you out of high school…

Covering up her own murder was one thing, but faking life is much harder than Kaylee Cavanaugh expected. After weeks spent “recovering,” she’s back in school, fighting to stay visible to the human world, struggling to fit in with her friends and planning time alone with her new reaper boyfriend. But to earn her keep in the human world, Kaylee must reclaim stolen souls, and when her first assignment brings her face-to-face with an old foe, she knows the game has changed. Her immortal status won’t keep her safe. And this time Kaylee isn’t just gambling with her own life….

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120 Responses to “Guest Blog & Giveaway: Rachel Vincent on killing characters & win BEFORE I WAKE”

  1. Jennifer

    AHH I cannot wait for this book! And that ipod is adorable!

  2. Victoria Zumbrum

    Thanks for the awesome giveaway. I have been wanting to read this series for a long time. It sounds awesome.

  3. [email protected] GREAT read

    Loooove this series! Can’t wait for this either! Tried to be on the tour but I guess Harlequin didn’t like me! 🙁


  4. Lilian

    I haven’t read this series yet, but I would LOVE to start.

    “In real life, good guys die too. As in life, so in fiction—even in fantasy.”
    ^I just loved that line.
    Nothing annoys me more when main characters are always the one who never get hurt despite being hit by several rounds of bullets.

    Lilian @ A Novel Toybox

  5. erinf1

    thanks for a great giveaway! I’ve been wanting to read this series *forever*

  6. A.H.

    I’ve read Ms. Vincent’s Shifters and Unbound series and I plan to start reading this series soon. Thanks for the giveaway.

  7. Kirsti

    I am so excited for this book, I can’t wait to see what happens with all the characters!

  8. smiling_ina

    What an amazing guest post!!! I love what Rachel wrote and it totally makes sense – all of it. It really wouldn’t be believable if nobody would ever get hurt or died when facing death on an almost regular basis. I am so, so scared to read Before I Wake… *shiver*

    Great, great tour stop!!! 😀

  9. Kristin @ My ParaHangover

    Deaths?!?! Kleenex boxes!?!?! UGH, not again! Rachel, you’re killing me with these books! But I can’t stop reading them, you’re just too awesome! Awesome post, too!

  10. Tiff- Escaping... One Book @ a Time

    I am so excited about Before I Wake. I only discovered this series just before If I Die came out but I devoured the books. This series is one of my favourites for sure!! The covers are all gorgeous (Before I Wake has Pink so I LOVE it) and the covers for vol. #1 & #2 are just stunning!!!! Great post too. I actually like that she kills people off. As Rachel said it makes it real and if everyone always lived what fun would that be. Not that I don’t get worked up and upset but I get it lol.

  11. Samantha D

    Sweet! Ive been wanting to read this for a while now!!!!!!!! XD

  12. Bailey

    Great post! Dying to read this book!! A tad bit nervous about reading this one though considering she keeps talking about someone dying. 😛 Thanks for the giveaway!

  13. Julie S.

    Eeek IID was already so emotional, it sounds like this one will definitely need some tissues.

  14. Dalia

    Love all of Rachel Vincent’s books! Can’t wait for BIW!!

  15. Dani Nguyen

    I love the new omnibus cover. So pretty. Can’t wait to read Before I Wake. Thanks for the giveaway!

  16. Kim H.

    I hate when authors kill of my favorite characters, but at the same time I respect it. I like when authors don’t hold back and treat their characters like they’re made of glass. That’s only one reason why I have such respect for Rachel’s writing. Thanks for the post and the giveaway! I’m super excited for Before I Wake!


  17. Melissa

    I need to read this ASAP! Who’s gonna die? Oh, the torture! Thanks for the giveaway!

  18. Susan S.

    Thanks for the giveaway. I love your Shifters series, and I just started reading your Soul Screamers series.

  19. Emmalee Giantomasso

    I have been dying for this book to come out! Can’t wait!

  20. Debbie W.

    Thanks so much for the interview! I loved hearing what Rachel said about killing characters since it’s also something that I had been wondering about… such as, “why this particular character?” but I got that answered. can’t wait for BIW to be released!!

  21. MsInformed

    Honestly – I can’t wait to see who’s killed off next in this book. The twist with Kaylee was great, & I love her together with Tod. So looking forward to reading this book!

  22. jordan

    love rachel vincent’s books! love this giveaway too! 🙂

  23. BJ Kenney

    I love the new cover! I The white background really stands out from the others while the dress marries them seamlessly. Thanks for the giveaway!

  24. Ron Pratt

    Beautiful story, beautiful cover,
    I hope I wint this book before I wake…

  25. Leslie Dover

    I absolutely love this series. I love all the books Rachel Vincent writes. This is an awesome giveaway. I can’t wait to read the book!!!

  26. Shanna Roberson

    Everytime I read one of your blog posts about Before I Wake, I get that nervous flipflop in my belly. You know the one right before you bungee jump or the first drop on a rollercoaster. Yeah I am excited and scared all at the same time for this book. 😉 This is my favorite YA series and I will be extremely sad to see it end. Thanks for the giveaway!

  27. Angie @ Pinkindle

    Great giveaway! I finally got If I Die from the library yesterday! They’re also going to order Never to Sleep in July, so I’ll be all set to read Before I Wake whenever it comes in (or if I win it!). 😀

  28. AutumnM

    Now I’m wondering who’s going to die… I can’t wait until this book is out and the emotional rollercoaster begins. Thanks again Rachel for sharing your wonderful stories with us.

  29. Kalynn

    I can’t wit to read this but I am so nervous. There are 3 characters I’m really worried about though.

  30. Vivien

    I’m so excited for the next installment!!! If I Die just about Killed me!!!

  31. Jennifer P

    Maybe after reading BIW the answers Rachel gave will be of some comfort. Doubtful, but it could happen…

  32. Viki S.

    I first read your Shifter series and loved it. So I picked up the Soul Screamers thinking it would be a typical YA. NO – It is one of the best YA series I’ve read. Your characters have much more depth than most. Thank you.

  33. Linda @ Fiction Fervor

    Great post, Rachel. I often think that authors that aren’t afraid of killing off their beloved characters are made of stronger stuff. Killing characters off probably means that they’ve got something planned that involves that death. Sort of like how each death is all part of the author’s grand plan, haha.

    Thanks for the giveaway!

  34. Misty Mrosko

    I can’t wait for more soul screamers! The Cover is stunning and I’m sure Rachel is going to blow us away with Before I Wake!

  35. Jamie C

    I love love love all of Rachel Vincent’s books. I get thoroughly attached to her characters and when one of them dies it’s devastating, but that said, there really is nothing better than seriously crying over a book. It’s proof that it was an amazing book with amazing characters. I am DYING to see what happens in BIW and . . . a little terrified!

  36. Amy K

    Gorgeous cover. Thank you for this awesome giveaway! 🙂

  37. Rachelle

    This series is absolutely fantastic! I don’t know if I want to read Before I Wake though if someone dies. *sob*

  38. Nikole

    June 26 is so close, but feels so far away! Can’t wait to get my hands on BIW!

  39. Terrie D

    what a great giveaway! I hope I win. I just started the series but I’m reading them so fast because they’re so amazing! I just love the characters.

  40. Heather Alexander

    I am stoked , I love this series. Hope I win.

  41. whitewolfreads

    OMG I can’t wait! OMG I can’t wait! OMG I can’t wait! OMG I can’t wait! (Can you tell I’m exited?)

  42. Kat

    I swear all the killing off characters are insane! Now I’m not a very emotional person when it comes to reading but I was so sad for Faythe when she lost her brother Ethan and her dad. But she did also cried for her infected ex-boyfriend andrew. Then cried inside after Marc finds out about her and Jace one-time thing.
    In the SS, the story of how Kaylee (age 3) died was sad, and Tod in Reaper but he did it to save his brother’s life. AUnt Val suffers the consequences, Addy’s action were to save her sister. Did I miss any other death beside Kaylee? In IF I DIE.
    Unbound were numberous killing faceless men, but that good! BB had only the story of Liv and Cam and of course the predictment by Noelle. In SB Kori and Ian kill off a lot of important people in order to become free.
    FYI: I SOOOOO need BIW out now!

  43. Karen Wapinski

    I am so excited for this book! I adore the Soul Screamers books, it’s one of the few YA I still consistently reread. And the Alpha books were amazing, when I finished the last one I had this sense of losing my breath and thinking ‘now what can top this? damn.”

  44. Madison H.

    I. Seriously. Can’t. Wait. For. This. Book!!!!! I’ve been like stalking Rachel all over the internet just waiting for more info on it or anything!! I’m dying! Oh wait. I can’t actually be dying if it’s not my time yet right? 😉

  45. Denise

    I love all of Rachel’s books. My 16 year old niece and I agree on her YA series Soul Screamers. They are wonderful.

  46. Jen Kentfield

    I completely understand why authors kill off characters. I mean, it’s part of life (especially in the sort of lives that Rachel’s characters live) and the emotional response proves how well she’s written these characters. Now, I’m not looking forward to crying over whoever she kills in this book, but I understand why it must happen. I mean, it can’t really be any worse that what she did in the last book, right? Can’t wait for June 28th!!!

  47. Nikki B.

    I agree, as much as a certain character’s death in Prey utterly destroyed me, i’ll admit that it’s my fave book out of the entire Shifters series because of it. When an author can wrench such strong emotions with only written words it completely blows me away! While If I Die was painful to read at some parts, that pain was just once again proof positive of Rachel’s talent!! I’m overly eager to see what she has in store for us in Before I Wake! 🙂

  48. Rachel

    I love this post. And Rachel Vincent is definitely not shy about killing off characters. I’m even shocked when bad things happen to the bad ones. (Shadow Bound….)

    “Yes, there are several permanent deaths in Before I Wake. Yes, at least one of those deaths is devastating for Kaylee, and—if I’ve done my job right—for readers as well.”

    And yes she did her job so unbelievably well. Too well! I was devastated for days and days! I’m still a bit devastated and terrified to re-read BIW!

    Great stop on the tour! 🙂

  49. latisha depoortere

    I can’t wait until I can read this book Thank you for the great giveaway!

  50. Jennifer @ Some Like It Paranormal

    “at least one of those deaths is devastating for Kaylee, and—if I’ve done my job right—for readers as well.”

    AHHHHH I am so nervous! I can’t wait 10 days! I keep theorizing and I’m torn between two characters I think will die. I just want lots of Tod and Kaylee together! SO EXCITED!

  51. Rachel at theJeepDiva

    I would love to win a copy of the book. I have not had a chance to read this series yet but it is on my TBR pile. It sounds so good. Thanks!

  52. Fiery Na

    I like all the covers in this series and the pink just pops.

  53. Tyawna

    Thank you so much for the give away! I cannot wait to read BIW

  54. Carrie V

    The nano looks so cute. Can’t wait for this book. Thanks for the giveaway.

  55. alicia marie

    ahhh can’t wait until i can finally read this book! but so not looking forward to killed character!

  56. Heather

    Oh yes, character deaths. 🙁

    I learned the hard way through the Shifters series that when Ms. Vincent kills a beloved character they are NOT coming back. I have never been so heart broken.

  57. Paranormal Opinion

    Beautiful cover!!! Thanks so much for the giveaway 🙂 I haven’t read any of these books yet, but they have been on my to-read list!!

  58. Sam Sain

    The book looks really good and the iPod is cute! Thank you for the giveaway =)

  59. StaceyB

    I have’t read the Soul Screamers series yet, but the book covers are great.

    Congratulations on your upcoming release!

  60. laceyblossom

    I love this series so freaking much! I can’t wait for Before I Wake!

  61. Lieder Madchen

    Oof, killing your characters is so hard. For the longest time I simply refused to do it…and none of my stories ever came to an end. 😛 Thanks for the giveaway!

  62. Jen @ Midnight Book Thief

    Wow, amazing post! I have to admit that Rachel’s a master at killing off characters I’ve come to love. If the Soul Screamers got a bad case of that, Shifter’s twice as bad! 😛 But it’s nice to understand her reason for doing that… even if I don’t really like it. (Yes, I am thinking of Ethan.)

  63. Renee

    I really can’t wait to read this book! I’m almost afraid though because I don’t want anyone to die!

  64. Christina T

    Great interview! Thanks for the chance at this great giveaway!

  65. Belinda

    Please enter me in the contest, I love all of her other books I have read and would love to read this one as well

  66. Kristen Heyl

    I haven’t read this series yet but the covers are beautiful and the synopsis sound just like something I want to read.

    [email protected]

  67. Jolene A

    I love the cover and can’t wait to get my hands on this book!!

  68. Amy G

    I like the book cover! So pretty! The sixth book in the Soul Screamers series!

  69. JennyC

    AHHHHHH i can’t wait to read this book!! i’m sooo veryy excited to read it lol:)

  70. rhonda Beyer

    I love all Rachel’s. Series. I can’t wait to she where she takes Tod and Kaylee next.

  71. Dawn Doyle

    I absolutely LOVE Rachel Vincent. I’ve read all her series (I really enjoyed the shifters and can’t believe they are done :-(. Thank you so much for the awesome giveaway! Crossing my fingers.
    -Dawn aka dawnmomoffour
    [email protected]

  72. Stacy

    Thanks for the warning about the tissues. I tend to get very involved in books and I cry all the time when I am reading.

  73. Marie-Claude

    I love this serie!!! Can’t wait to read Before I Wake.

  74. Ellen Trieu

    Hi! Loved the guest post by Rachel Vincent, I always wondered why authors killed off book characters, especially our favorite ones. I can’t wait to get my hands on Before I wake! I need to catch up on the rest of the books >_> Thank you for being apart of the blog tour! <3

  75. Elie

    EXcited for another book in this series. Congrats Rachel!

  76. Crystal Martinez

    These books sound so awesome….I would love to win! And those covers are to die for 😉 Thanks for such an awesome giveaway!! <3

  77. Shonda Abercrombie

    A great giveaway. Rachel K. Vincent is an excellent author! Love her books.

  78. Ginny Carter

    I so love this series!! I can’t wait until this comes out. I would LOVE to win a copy! Thanks for being so awesome Rachel.

  79. Beatriz Guadron

    Thanks for the giveaway! I can’t wait to finally catch up on this series, hopefully soon!

  80. Rose

    Hello!! (:
    I loved this post! It was fantastic!!

    Thanks for the great giveaway & good luck everyone!!!


  81. Michelle Borzyskowski

    Thats for this awesome giveaway!!! Love all your books!:)
    Loved this post!!!!!

  82. Jeannie

    I am so excited about Before I Wake!!! Tuesday is coming up and I’ll be at the store bright and early to pick up my copy of the book!!!

  83. KayDee

    Thanks for the giveaway! I can’t wait to read the next one!!

  84. Justine

    It was interesting to hear this perspective from the author. In other series, sometimes I think the author really should have killed off certain characters, so it’s interesting that she doesn’t shy away from doing so.

  85. Kelly

    I couldn’t read past her writing about killing off a character. I am not well into reading the series yet and didn’t want any spoilers. I have been waiting till this one came out to catch up, so I could just immerse myself into the series!! Thanks!!

  86. Andrea M.

    Thanks for the great giveaway. Also, I love the new blog design, it’s awesome. 🙂