We’ve been trying to classy up the Swamp lately. This involves shanghai-ing…err..gently persuading some really cool peeps to stop by for a few and answer some truly insightful questions. This week we were able to lure the one and only Seanan McGuire to our destination of mold, mildew, and spongy ground. For those who haven’t met her before, let me introduce Seanan. She is the mad genius behind the Urban Fantasy October Daye series and the truly fun InCryptid series. Her podcast, The SF Squeecast just picked up a Hugo award. Born and raised on the West Coast of North America, she currently shares a crumbling farm house with her three improbably large cats, her large collection of horror movies, and enough books to qualify as a library under local zoning laws. She has no qualms about cuddling rattlesnakes, but weather terrifies her. When not writing, she enjoys visiting haunted cornfields, collecting creepy dolls, and watching too much television. Sometimes she’s her own evil twin, Mira Grant. She really doesn’t sleep much.
Try not to scare her away!
If you were to hold a dinner party for six, who would you invite and share at least one question you would have for each? Your guests don’t have to be alive and if you really want to make it fun, you can use favorite fictional characters.
I’m assuming my guests would be functionally alive for the duration of the party, at least, or we’re potentially sitting at the table with a bunch of corpses, and that would be…bad. Very, very bad.
I don’t know, Seanan, Eerie’s Zombies tend to have some table manners. We have managed to keep them from leaving pieces behind or leaking over the table.
So I would invite Stephen King and ask him about language; James Gunn and ask him about what he would have done in Slither II; Andrew Volpe and ask him about music; Walt Disney and ask him about imagination; and my friends Michelle “Vixy” Dockrey and Catherynne Valente, because seriously, if I had a dinner party with those people and didn’t invite Cat and Vixy, they would have a keep-away party with my internal organs.
You might need to set a few extra spots, I think Eerie may crash your dinner party and I would be the plus one…
As children we tend to have an idea of what we want to be by the time we’re ten. Before you decided to pursue the artistic dream of being a writer, what did you want to be and why?
I actually wanted to be a Broadway performer when I was younger! I did years of voice and dance lessons, and appeared in quite a few productions here on the West Coast. Sadly, a spinal injury took dancing off the table, and I was forced to refocus my ambitions.
That totally sucks, but on the positive side, we get to go on adventures with Toby and the Price family!
If your character(s) came with a warning label, what would it say?
Warning: Contents under pressure. Contains language. Some concepts may be too complicated for after-midnight reading. Do not taunt Happy Fun Ball.
*makes note to find out story behind Happy Fun Ball*
If you turned your laptop/computer/pen/typewriter (yes, some of still use these!) over to your character(s), how would they describe you?
…oh. Oh, that would end poorly. “Die die die die die die bitch die die die” is probably the more socially acceptable part of that little screed.
*snort* I think a few of mine would jump all over that band wagon, complete with a burning effigy.
We all have favorite characters, either main or secondary, and there are always bits and pieces of them we don’t share with our readers, but keep close to our hearts. Choose your favorite from your cast of characters and tell us a couple of things that you haven’t shared in your books/writing.
Since all my series are ongoing, I actually intend to share most things, given sufficient time. It’s one of the nice parts of being a series author (although I very much envy people who can think in stand-alones). Quentin, from the Toby Daye books, loves hockey. He’s a good Canadian boy and he appreciates his nation’s favorite pastime. He actually has fantasies about getting Toby to a hockey game and watching her expression when she realizes that blood will bounce on ice.
That’s kind of cool, I hadn’t imagine Quentin into Hockey, basketball..not the nice one, but street style…very cool…
Personally, I tend to be a bit on the introverted side so the thought of being in the actual presence of one of my favorite writers makes my heart race, my knees shake and tangles my tongue (yes classic fan girl behavior). Who could reduce you to such a level and how do you imagine your initial meeting?
Stephen King, definitely. I fully expect to lose the power of coherent speech if I ever manage to meet him. I think if we do meet, it will be through the efforts of a mutual friend, who will stand there and laugh as I stare and whimper.
Maybe you can prepare pre written signs a la the Roadrunner?
Growing up, what was your favorite book, comic, game or movie and did you create a character/player that might resemble you?
You actually asked the self-insert character question! I salute you. I used to tell myself stories where I’d get to meet my favorite characters, but I never committed any of them to paper. My favorite movie growing up was Little Shop of Horrors, and I actually never did a self-insert there, although I’ve been in the musical seven times, and have played every female character except for Audrey.
Here I thought it was just me who was strange enough to do this, but I think it’s like training wheels for writers, playwrights, actors…
Many writers have that first novel which will never see the light of day. Out of curiosity, do you have one stashed somewhere? Inquiring minds want to know: what was your first attempt at writing and how old were you?
My first serious attempt at writing was a fourteen-page essay when I was nine, explaining to my mother why she had to let me read Stephen King. It had footnotes and a bibliography. I finished my first book when I was twelve. It was called Dracula’s Castle, and if I knew where it was, I’d probably put it online.
Since my Prankster Duo would do something like this, I have to ask, did she let you read it?
Whether we’re plotters or pantsers (outlines not needed), creating our stories takes us on very memorable journeys. Sometimes we may be part way through before we realize some major aspect of our story is just not working (plot, character, setting). Have you ever hit this sharp, pointy snag and if so, how did you escape? We’re you battered and bruised or a bloody mess?
When in doubt, blow shit up.
Share one uniquely strange experience you’ve had that remains crystal clear to this day.
I worked for the phone company for a while as a process engineer, and there was one summer where they sent me everywhere. I had almost no time at home or with my cats, and I was exhausted. I stopped enjoying travel, and I started having travel troubles for the first time in my life. Then, when I arrived in Florida after a bad flight, I got picked up by a black van at the taxi stand, and the driver kept pointing out things that weren’t normal tourist things, like the gator farms and where the good movie theaters were. Just as we reached my hotel, he looked at me in the rearview and said, “You’ve been having a bad time lately. Some bad trips. But don’t worry. That’s all over now.” And he was right. Things got better after that.
How cool is that?
What’s some of the funniest/sweetest/strangest things you’ve heard from your readers?
I have the best readers. A lot of them have named cats after my characters, which I take as high praise. And one reader’s seven-year-old memorized a song of mine, “Wicked Girls,” when she had to take a poem to her first grade class. I consider that the sweetest thing ever.
Wow! A poem? That is truly the best thing ever!
What’s the one genre you won’t ever try and why?
Probably military sci-fi. I don’t have the background, and I would have real trouble with the details.
What is some of the best advice you were ever given?
Never measure yourself against anyone else. Their stories aren’t yours to tell, and guess what? Your stories aren’t theirs.
I’ll have to remember this one…
What is the best advice you can share with others?
Read. Write. Revise. Don’t read the comments, ever. Play nicely with the other children, even if you don’t like them. Nastiness never did any long-term good. Support your peers; someday you may need them to support you. Success is not a zero-sum game. Your story is not done.
And now for the bullet questions you all love…are you ready?
Blades, guns, fists or feet?
Favorite Fairy Tale of all time?
The Three Sisters, variant four, happy ending version, AT tale type 713-b.
Three titles and their authors sitting on your nightstand/bookcase/table/floor waiting to be read?
Crops and Robbers, by Paige Shelton; Forbidden, by Kelley Armstrong; Virus X, by Frank Ryan.
Greatest one liner of all time?
“Bet you wish you’d gone to Hollywood with me now, don’t you, Bill?”
Sarcastic witticism, Southern sweetness or Geeky disdain?
Sarcasm, all the way.
Strangest item currently taking up space in your writing cave?
My 20+ pound blue classic tabby and white Maine Coon, Alice.
Favorite supernatural creature?
It varies from day to day. Right now, the mermaid.
A big, huge thank you to Seanan for taking the time to be with us today. She’s definitely help add a little pizzaz to our place! Want more Seanan McGuire? Don’t fret, her latest release is Midnight Blue-Light Special, the second book in her InCryptid series. These urban fantasy cryptozoology adventures follow the Price family as they do their best not to get eaten by anything unpleasant. The series began with Discount Armageddon, and there are several free short stories on Seanan’s website, at www.seananmcguire.com.