Interview: Seanan McGuire

Seanan McGuire is the author of the October Daye novels, an urban fantasy series abouta half-fae private investigator. The most recent series she is working on isInCryptids, which is about a family that would prefer to study monsters ratherthan hunt them, which is what a rival organization known as the Covenant of St.George would prefer to do. Writing as Mira Grant, she has written the“Newsflesh” trilogy (the third book of which is coming out in May), whichinvolves zombies and journalism in some fashion. Seanan McGuire is also asinger-song writer, and further information about her books and music can befound on her website here.  

Where did you go to school? (And what did you major in?)

Iwent to the University of California Berkeley — go Bears! — where I majoredin folklore and mythology.

Which writers have influenced you the most?

Stephen King, Tanya Huff, William Shakespeare, the Brothers Grimm, and Ray Bradbury.

What are your favorite genres to read?

Urban fantasy, paranormal romance, YA of both of the above, horror, classic science fiction, and non-fiction about folklore, virology, epidemiology, or the evolution of social practices.

What other media (TV shows, movies, comic books etc) have influenced your writing?

All of the above.

Could you name a few,and tell me what you liked (or disliked) about them?

I’m heavily influenced by Marvel Comics, with their vast and tangled continuity;early 1980s horror movies, which were, surprisingly, one of the first places we got really strong female leads in modern media; and by a cartoon called My Little Pony and Friends.  I’m not kidding.  That thing was like Gormenghast with hooves.

One of the recurring plot elements I’ve noticed in the October Daye books involves kidnapping or child endangerment. Is this because of the folktales of changelings and fairy abductions?

That’s one of the reasons, yes.

What are a few of the other reasons? ( Or, what made you decide to use this plot element aside fromresonance with folklore?)

Look,a bunny!

Of the characters you’ve written, which are your favorites? (And why?)

I don’t play favorites with my babies!  Seriously,my favorite is whichever one I’m writing right now.  I am very much “in the moment” with my work.

  

Well, could you tell me a  little about the protagonist(s) in Discount Armageddon?

Verity Price is the daughter of a family of cryptozoologists, people who would rather study monsters than hunt them down without good reason.  She’s also a professional ballroom dancer,and she’s trying to find a balance between these two passions when the book begins.  She works as a cocktail waitress to make ends meet, since aspiring ballroom girls don’t make big checks, and no one pays for cryptozoology.  The book’s cover is actually quite accurately Verity, which is one of the things I love about her.

Are there any particular recurring themes you tend to write about?

Yes,quite a few.  Families, monsters, ghost girls, getting what you want not being quite what you thought it was going to be when you first said you wanted it…I have a lot of recurring themes.

I’m a big fan of your music–is there likely to be any more albums in the future?

I’m actually in the process of recording another album right now!  This one is with Jeff Bohnhoff, and it’s going to be a follow-up to RED ROSES AND DEAD THINGS.

What is your writing process like?

Isit down, and I write.  I’m sorry, this doesn’t have a good answer.  I am very disciplined, and that’s all I do that’s special.

One of the things I liked about the Toby Daye books is that there was no “romantic” plot.(In fact, the books are more about Toby’s relationship-wreckage in a way.) Are there any reasons you decided not to go into “paranormal romance”territory?

Toby doesn’t work that way.  Seriously,character shapes story for me, in a very real sense; if I have a character like Toby, who isn’t going to allow people to follow her into the bedroom, you’re going to get a lot of fade-to-black and digression.  She just doesn’t share that way.  So while I wish I could take credit, it wasall dictated by character, for me.

How would you describe what you write to someone who asked?

It would depend entirely on what they were asking about.  “Fairy tale noir” and “science fiction medical thrillers” are both common answers, for example.

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