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Seanan McGuire/Mira Grant: Thought Experiment

Seanan McGuire was born January 5, 1978 in Martinez CA. She studied folklore and herpetology – ‘‘folktales and snakes’’ – at the University of California, Berkeley. She has worked as a phone sex operator, a technical support engineer, an exotic animal rescuer, and a process engineer for communications company SBC, but in recent years has worked as a quality assurance engineer for a non-profit.

McGuire is a relatively new writer, but a prolific one. Debut novel Rosemary and Rue (2009) launched her October Daye urban fantasy series. Later books in the sequence include A Local Habitation (2010), An Artificial Night (2010), Late Eclipses (2011), One Salt Sea (2011), and the forthcoming Ashes of Honor and The Chimes at Midnight. Her new InCryptid series launched with Discount Armageddon (2012) and will continue with forthcoming Midnight Blue-Light Special.

Under the pseudonym Mira Grant she wrote the Newsflesh trilogy of SF novels about the aftermath of a zombie apocalypse: Feed (2010), Deadline (2011), and Blackout (2012); the first two volumes were Hugo finalists. Her novella ‘‘Countdown’’, set in that universe, is a current Hugo finalist. A new duology of medical thrillers, Parasitology and Symbiogenesis, is forthcoming.

McGuire was active in fandom before becoming a professional writer, and is well known as a filksinger, winning numerous Pegasus Awards for her work. She has produced several CDs of her music, most recently Wicked Girls (2011), currently a Hugo nominee in the Best Related Work category. McGuire won the John W. Campbell Memorial Award for Best New Writer in 2010. She lives in Northern California.

Website: Seanan McGuire

Excerpts from the interview:

‘‘My family was extraordinarily poor when I was growing up. My mom would go to flea markets and yard sales and just come home with boxes of random books: what she could afford, and what I liked to read. The only restrictions placed on my reading were that I couldn’t read Heinlein because she’d heard he was dirty, and I couldn’t read King because she’d heard he was scary. I snuck some Heinlein and thought it was boring (I was about eight), and I snuck some King and decided that was the best thing ever!

‘‘I realized I could be a writer because of Stephen King – he likes to write about authors, and they write books! I was like, ‘Wait – people write books?’ I hadn’t really put that together before. (I thought they grew on trees. I was a very odd small child.) At that point, I decided that I was going to be either an author or the Despotic Princess of Halloween Town. Both of these goals were very firm. I started writing pretty much immediately. Most of my early books were very, very bad, but they were at least ten pages long, which for an eight-year-old is hugely impressive. And then I just didn’t stop.”


“Toby Daye is a sort of Faerie PI. I’m really not a private-eye fan, but taking the human world and the Faerie world and knocking them together (where Faerie is a feudalistic society with these very regimented courts), I needed to have a character that could move easily between those worlds. A lot of 1980s horror shows were centered around people investigating things. And I like research, I like looking for things. I’ve had people criticize the fact that Toby is really not a very good detective, but I’ve never said she was a good detective – she’s a terrible detective! She’s just one of the only people willing to do the job.

‘‘I am always one book from the exit. If book seven is the last, it would not be the exit I want, but it would be solid enough as an ending that I would be satisfied. I’ve been putting in bits and pieces to tell you what’s to come since the title of Rosemary and Rue – there is actually a large clue there to what happens in book eight. (I’ve only had three people pick it up, but it can be done!) Part of it is that I am doing some things that are very complicated, and part is that I never want you to feel betrayed. The pieces are all there. Aside from my overall outline, I have a very ornate character wiki which projects certain things, like, ‘After X happens, Y can happen.’ ”


‘‘The [Mira Grant] series began with Feed. When I try to explain it, I say it’s Transmetropolitan meets The West Wing meets Resident Evil, and this is not inaccurate. I’m fascinated by zombie stories where, in order for them to work, you must have never heard of zombies before. (That is no longer believable for me, unless you want to explicitly set your story in 1972.) I wrote my book before the current zombie craze, but when Orbit announced it I did get a couple of folks going, ‘Oh god, another zombie novel. It must have just been pounded out.’ To which I say, ‘It’s 150,000 words long! What do you think I am? Apparently, you think I have superpowers.’


“My new series InCryptid, starting with Discount Armageddon, is about the kind of characters I’ve been dealing with for a long time, but it’s also about cryptozoology and this big, crazy-ass family. The premise of InCryptid is: until about five generations ago, the Price family belonged to a globe-spanning organization of monster-hunters called the Covenant of St. George, whose basic mission statement is, ‘If it wasn’t on the Ark, kill it.’ But do we really know what was on the Ark? That’s part of the problem…”


“I’m very tired. I’m working a full-time day job, putting out three books a year (and we’re trying to go to four). At any given time, I’m writing books in three to five different series, because that’s how I detox myself – when I get too stressed out with Toby, I go and work on InCryptid for a while, and when that becomes stressful I go and write a YA novel or a romantic comedy or something. I have three cats, I have a comic strip, I do short fiction, and I do filk. I need a nap.”


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Time May 17, 2012 at 10:06 pm

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