Chelsea Cain was born in Iowa City and studied journalism as a graduate student at the University of Iowa. Her master’s thesis—an account of her childhood in an Iowa commune—became her first book, Dharma Girl. Since then, she has become a thriller writer best known for her Archie Sheridan series. This On the Fly interview was recorded while she was in Iowa City for a reading at Prairie Lights.
Cain discusses her love for Iowa City—a place where writing one’s novel is an acceptable excuse for not going out with one’s friends. She also reveals that people frequently ask her how she can write her books—known for graphic sex and violence—as a woman. “It’s a question that is to me so incredibly sexist because it would not be asked of a man.”
She considers the ways in which writing is a refuge for her rather than something that saps her energy. The distractions and demands of social media and promotion, she says, are the true challenge. Cain describes herself as a storyteller—as opposed to a writer—and speaks of her need to tell the stories in her head.