Seanan McGuire was born in Martinez, California, and raised in a wide variety of locations, most of which boasted some sort of dangerous native wildlife. Despite her almost magnetic attraction to anything venomous, she somehow managed to survive long enough to acquire a typewriter, a reasonable grasp of the English language, and the desire to combine the two. The fact that she wasn’t killed for using her typewriter at three o’clock in the morning is probably more impressive than her lack of death by spider-bite.
Seanan is the author of the October Daye urban fantasies, the InCryptid urban fantasies, and several other works both stand-alone and in trilogies or duologies. She also writes under the pseudonym Mira Grant.
Seanan was the winner of the 2010 John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer, and her novel Feed (as Mira Grant) was named as one of Publishers Weekly’s Best Books of 2010. In 2013 she became the first person ever to appear five times on the same Hugo Ballot.
For what age audience do you write, and in what genres?
I primarily write for adults, and I write urban fantasy, horror, and science fiction.
Henry: I’m pleased to share that I have an urban fantasy (in that it features the Fae Queen from Romeo and Juliet) picture book, MABEL AND THE QUEEN OF DREAMS, coming out from Schiffer this fall. It’s intended to interest kids in urban fantasy at an early age. You’re welcome.
Tell us about your latest book.
My latest book is about 110,000 words long, all printed in black ink on white paper.
Henry: Good to know. Note to self: be more specific… By way of comparison, my picture books are under 500 words. So your book is 220 times better than mine. Well played, sir.
What do you hope readers will get from reading that book?
Well, I hope they don’t get paper cuts.
Henry: That seems like a good goal. Note to self: be even more specific…
What aspect of writing do you find most challenging?
Continuing through the difficult parts. Not every step of a story is easy, or fun, and sometimes it takes a strong work ethic to not go watch television instead.
Henry: And don’t get me started on revisions, or how a writer knows when the writing is “done”.
What is a powerful lesson you’ve learned from being a writer?
I really enjoy having a job where I don’t need to wear trousers.
Henry: Interestingly, that is not the first time I’ve heard an author extol the virtues of working in pajamas.
What has been a memorable experience that you never would have had if you had not been a writer?
I stopped wearing trousers to work.
Henry: I did that once, but my office co-workers did not appreciate it and called Human Resources. I’m crushed that you didn’t mention meeting me at ConDor and San Diego Comic-Con as memorable. But, I realize it’s hard to compete with the siren’s call of no trousers.
What advice would you give to aspiring authors?
Don’t quit your day job until you can support yourself and your family off of your royalties.
Henry: Good advice. Particularly since VERY few authors can support themselves solely on book royalties.
Do you have any favorite quotes?
Henry: I saw that coming. Either that or trouser quotes:
“If you could kick the person in the pants responsible for most of your trouble, you wouldn’t sit for a month.” – Theodore Roosevelt
“A lie gets halfway around the world before the truth has a chance to get its pants on.” – Winston Churchill
Do you have any strange rituals that you observe when you write?
Henry: I find this hard to believe. There must be something – incense, animal sacrifice, Twinkies…
If you could have one superpower, what would it be?
Teleportation without needing to account for the movement of the planet. I would spend so much time at Disney World…
Henry: I love that you’re thinking about the physics of a magical phenomenon. It should come as no surprise that someone who writes urban fantasy likes visiting the Magic Kingdom. Teleportation WOULD be handy. It’s also the greenest form of transportation.
If you could have three authors over for dinner, who would it be?
Stephen King, Catherynne Valente, and Jay Lake. King because I really want to meet him; Valente because she would kill me if I had dinner with Stephen King and didn’t invite her; and Lake because I miss him very much.
Henry: Wikipedia helpfully offers:
Catherynne Valente is an American fiction writer, poet, and literary critic. For her speculative fiction novels she has won the annual James Tiptree, Andre Norton, and Mythopoeic Fantasy Awards. Her short fiction has appeared in Clarkesworld Magazine, the World Fantasy Award–winning anthologies Salon Fantastique and Paper Cities, along with numerous Year’s Best volumes. Her critical work has appeared in the International Journal of the Humanities under the name Bethany L. Thomas as well as in numerous essay collections.
Joseph “Jay” Lake, Jr. was an American science fiction and fantasy writer. In 2003 he was a quarterly first-place winner in the Writers of the Future contest. In 2004 he won the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer in Science Fiction. Lake’s writings have appeared in numerous publications, including Postscripts, Realms of Fantasy, Interzone, Strange Horizons, Asimov’s Science Fiction, Nemonymous, and the Mammoth Book of Best New Horror. He was an editor for the “Polyphony” anthology series from Wheatland Press, and was also a contributor to the Internet Review of Science Fiction.
What is your favorite creature that exists only in literature?
The Tasmanian wolf. The last of them died within my grandmother’s lifetime. How is that not heartbreaking and amazing, all at the same time?
Henry: I was aiming more for fantasy creatures like imps or minotaurs, but that is indeed an amazing and heartbreaking choice. I recently saw a fictional movie about a hunter discovering a living Tasmanian wolf.
What do you like to do when you’re not writing?
Watch television and go to Disneyland.
Henry: Only one of these activities can be conducted without trousers.
What would you like it to say on your tombstone?
Here lies the body of Seanan McGuire
If I told you what happened, you’d call me a liar.
Henry: While her passing was sadly not just rumor,
She lives on through her fine writing and humor.
Where can readers find your work?
At a bookstore near them! I am published by a multitude of traditional publishers, both under my name and the name “Mira Grant,” and I am not hard to find.
Henry: Her official website is http://www.seananmcguire.com. Thanks for joining us, Seanan! You are bright and a wiseguy – two traits I admire.
This interview is also posted on the San Diego Children’s Books Examiner.