Interview With Seanan McGuire

Seanan McGuire was gracious enough to invite me to her hotel room during Comic Con for our interview. Of course, she happened to get room 1408. Can anyone say Stephen King? I decided this was my one shot and braved walking over the threshold. Am I glad I did. This was one of the best interviews I’ve ever done and it’s all thanks to Seanan McGuire.

Are you still not a full-time writer? I am still not a full-time writer. I have a 40hr a week day job. (pauses) Eventually I’m gonna snap and kill everyone in the San Francisco metro area.
Are you just really good at prioritizing? I don’t sleep.

I’ve noticed on Twitter you are like ‘I’m sleeping now’ then like an hour later you’re like ’ok, now I’m writing.’ Yes, that is just pretty much how it goes. So it is a circle of hell, but it is life in modern America where, its medical care. It’s literally, purely the medical care. I’ve started proposing to friends of mine, ‘Will you marry me? What? I want on your medical care. Your mom will stop nagging you about finding a wife. I don’t care if you want to bring home a woman you want to sleep with.’
Then we talked about cats for a short time. I won’t bore you with the conversation, but I HAVE to include Seanan’s quote about Norwegian Forest cats (which I have 3), “Wegies are so sweet. Wegies are the best cats.” Thanks Seanan for that boost. Most people don’t know they’re called wegies and ask me about my wedgies. Now back to what everyone is here for.

Ok, the Shakespeare quotes for titles, how did you come up with that? I really like Shakespeare & I really like that it’s an extra layer of resonance. There are clues to every book in the title of that book. There’s a hint to what’s going on if you know the play. And I actually have had one person figure out what happens in book 8 by looking at the title of book 8, & going ‘wait, has this, this, this, this & this happened?’ & I go yeah, ’this is what’s happening in book 8, at which point my editor stared at him for a little while. So actually it’s all very layered and very symbolic.
On your website, the “Am I in a fairy tale?" number 3 asks “Do the creatures of the forest clean your house?” Yes

Does that include ants? Only if the ants are actually productively cleaning your house. If they’re sort of swarming all over everything, getting in the cereal, you are probably not in a fairy tale.
Good I’m not in a fairy tale. If they are sorting thru the ashes of your fireplace to find all the pearls from your great grandmother’s necklace which broke last night when your evil step mother shoved you against the mantel, you’re in a fairy tale. You’re fucked.
I don’t have any of that, yea!!!! Are we ever going to meet Oberon? Yes

Yea, whoo hoo! Cheering, a totally appropriate response.
The lands that Oberon closed off are there any fae in there, or did they kick them all out? Unknown, um, as of right now, no one knows for sure whether any of the sentient fae are still locked in. The assumption is no, because no one has a cousin or a brother or you know it’s not…it really is no, he kicked us all out, we all had to leave, and then he locked the door. So if someone got left behind it was someone with no one to miss them.
How sad. It is kinda. And they’ve been in there for a while, but on the plus side if they’re a pureblood they probably aren’t crazy yet. Cause purebloods have a very different approach to time. So from their prospective, they’re like ‘well this has been an interesting couple of centuries. Perhaps it’s time to see what’s on cable.'
So you probably can’t answer this, but does Amandine go to those lands, or is there just no access? Amandine can’t get in. You’ll see references periodically to her rattling doors that no one else sees. That can be interpreted as her trying to get into the deeper lands. Um, but she’s never had a disappearance like that. Nor would you really want her to, because the Summerlands are pretty harmless. There’s a reason why Oberon said you guys can stay here while I go off and do whatever it is that I’m doing. There are very few dragons; there are very few monsters that are not intelligent. If you get eaten by a Manticore, you probably deserve it. There’s very little going on in the Summerlands that will really mess you up. Some of the deeper lands of Faerie; you know Tirn Ailil, the Isle of the Blessed, Annwn, any of those, they will just fuck you up for fun. So you don’t really want someone like Amandine, who is kinda Coocoo for Cocoa Puffs, roving in them without anybody with her.
So she just goes away somewhere in the Summerlands? Yeah, she just wanders off and no one pokes her. Do you wanna poke her? I don’t wanna poke her.

So at the end of late eclipses, when she changes Toby. She’s making Toby more like her normal self? She’s making her be more fae. Toby’s dad was human, Toby’s mom was fae. Toby would have been born a changeling, she would have been born 50/50, but the odds are very good, because we hear a lot about baby magic, and little changelings do things instinctively. So the odds are good that she had made herself more fae at some point in the past. And Amandine turned her more human when she was trying to hide her. So this was kinda Amandine shoving her back toward that point of balance so that she wouldn’t, you know, melt.
Ok. Cause I was trying to figure out if it was Toby that kind of did it, or if it was you know Amandine that at the beginning had her more fae. Well at the beginning Toby would have had herself more fae, but Amandine never wanted her to be…. In fact, Amandine would have made her completely human if she would’ve been given time. And her dad was human, that’s one thing that people get confused with sometimes. I find that fascinating.
I thought that was pretty clear. Amandine can’t introduce something that isn’t already there, so she could not have made Toby part human if she were born completely fae. She could make Toby completely Fae by pulling all the human out of her which just takes some time, but then she couldn’t put it back in again.
So Toby’s daughter, we really haven’t heard anything on if she has any…She has some fae blood, because her mom was part fae. She doesn’t have very much. She doesn’t have any access to magic, she hasn’t been given the changelings choice, you know, and Toby was probably closer to 60/40, human/fae, if that, when the series started, so Gilly is very very thin blooded. Um, we haven’t really dealt with her because she did tell Toby to go off and die in a fire. You know and when your mom hasn’t called in 14 years, suddenly shows up and acts like nothing’s changed, most of the teenagers I know, the teenager I was would be really pissed. So, Toby’s just, ‘ok honey you calm down.’ Again, she just doesn’t have a humans perception of time, so if she has to wait 5 or 6 years, that’s gonna suck, but if that’s what it’s gonna take for Gilly to be ok, then that’s what she’ll get.

So, Mira Grant, I confess I haven’t read her. But actually my co-blogger has read her. Why the difference in name? Is it just that the books are so different? Do you remember in the mid 90’s when Disney wanted to start releasing R rated movies, so they created a company called Touchstone? Everybody knew it was Disney. There was never a question of who owned it. I mean, Roy Disney was like their operating executive for the first year. But it meant that Disney was never appearing on the advertisements for an R rated movie. So parents that had been trained to go ‘Disney is kid appropriate,’ would not take their children to see Reservoir Dogs.
Um, it’s kinda that divide that the expectations are very different. When you look at a book and it says by Mira Grant on the cover you’re not gonna have the same expectations of the contents as if you look at a book and it says Seanan McGuire on the cover.

It’s that different expectation. It’s both the cover design but also that title. And I have had people pick up the Mira books who have said to me that they never would have bought it if they had realized it was me, because they identify Seanan McGuire as an urban fantasy author, and they didn’t think and urban fantasy author could write zombie science fiction. And the other way around, I have had people pick up the Toby books, who would not have bought them if they knew Mira Grant wrote them, because the Mira Grant books are very bloody and brutal and have a lot of swearing and are science fiction and people die and they didn’t want quite that level of brutality in their urban fantasy.
What was the weirdest thing that has bitten you? I was bitten by that Komodo dragon in the storm drain.
Did you work at a zoo? I did exotic animal rescue & zoo volunteerism for a good long stretch of time. At one time, I was a split herpetology and folklore major, and was considering going into reptile keeping. So I did a lot of zoo volunteer work, um, decided that perhaps being a herpetologist when I am catnip for venomous reptiles was not a good plan. So I stopped that, but I got to stick my arm up the asses of many interesting animals before I had to leave that degree.
Have you heard about Grimm and are you excited about it? I’m not going to be excited until it doesn’t suck. Fringe is the last show that really lived up to the hype. Fringe had me at melting airline passengers.
Will we ever see a picture of Tybalt on the cover? I don’t know if he will ever show up on one of the covers because the Toby books are urban fantasy and not paranormal romance. If Chris, Chris McGrath who does my covers, decides that that is the iconic image, then Tybalt will show up, but until then I don’t know. I have no cover control at all.
Who’s the person you would think of when you created Tybalt? Have you ever watched a British show called Primeval? Andrew Lee Potts was my original model there. He also played Hatter in the Alice mini-series (and in 1408, anyone see a recurring theme?). I would not kick him out of bed for eating anything; crackers, sardines (laughs).
I mention that because each book adds something to his look that the image keeps changing in my head. He’s gonna be malleable. And I think they may play on that a bit because there hasn’t been much play on the romance aspect yet, in part, because Tybalt is pureblooded and not a moron. So he’s like ‘Yeah I’m gonna wait til you get all of the stupid out of your system.’
So you hinted that Tybalt went away and found out some stuff about Toby. Yeah, he found Amandine and slammed her into a wall until she explained what was going on.
I’m really excited, Subterranean Press does small run, nice little hard cover books and there’s gonna be a Tybalt story in one of their upcoming anthologies called ‘Rat Catcher,’ which is set in London in 1666 and it’s how he became a king of cats for the first time. So we get to meet Tybalt and we also get to meet September Torquill. This is very exciting, I love September, she is so dead. (laughs) Not in that story, but she’s been dead for so long. It’s very odd for her to be a living character.
During our interview, she pulled out One Salt Sea. I can’t believe she showed it to me. I actually got to hold it in my own hands. But what I really don't believe is I actually gave it back rather than running from the room to make my getaway. I'm not sure if she would’ve invoked the cursed of room 1408, opened a portal to the Shadowlands, or put me in a Faerie Tale until I more than regretted it. It may have been interesting to find out, but I still wanted her to sign my books, so I played nice.

To learn more about Seanan or Mira, please visit their websites http://seananmcguire.com and http://miragrant.com.

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