A Jekyll & Hyde interview with Seanan McGuire & Mira Grant

You may know her as Mira Grant, author of the Newsfeed trilogy, winner of the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer in 2010. Or you may know her as Seanan McGuire, author of the October Daye Urban Fantasy series.

Either way, you know she’s an author who delivers a disturbingly good read.

Byrt: Seanan, your Toby Daye novels have a wonderful old school detective feel – were you at all influenced by noir, books or movies?

Seanan: Not as much as you might think! Several of my long-time friends are noir fanatics, but I’ve always been more of a Scooby-Doo girl. If anything influenced me, it was probably Veronica Mars. Funny, but true.

Byrt: I watched all of Veronica Mars season one (on DVD) in two days! So addictive… All the titles of your Toby novels come from Shakespeare – how much of an impact did the Bard’s Fae have on your storytelling?

Seanan: Quite a lot. I tend to treat some of his fantasy plays as histories of my world. They’re as accurate as his actual historicals, which is to say “not at all,” but it gives me a very good set of cultural touchpoints to work from.

Byrt: Did you consciously try to avoid Fae tropes or stereotypes, or were you just telling the story you had to tell?

Seanan: See, I tend to think of myself as working with fae tropes and stereotypes, not avoiding them — it’s just that the tropes and stereotypes I work with tend to be the really, really old ones. The ones that go bump in the night. It’s the story I had to tell, and all those little bits and pieces belong there.

Byrt: What conventions do you think have been over-used in Urban Fantasy? Do you have any pet peeves with the genre?

Seanan: The “everything but the kitchen sink” approach can really grate. When it’s done well, it’s incredible — Kim Harrison, for an example — but when it’s done poorly, it’s a hot buttered mess. Also, when mixing vampires and werewolves, it would be nice to see something other than a forbidden love that dare not speak its name (Kelley Armstrong handles this pairing really well).

(And suddenly Seanan switches to her infectious alter ego…)

Byrt: Mira, what’s something you’ve learned while doing research for the Newsflesh trilogy that you wish you didn’t know?

Mira: Canada is a lot more prepared to deal with a huge number of corpses than the US is. Also, people’s disregard for quarantine procedures is probably going to kill us all.

Byrt: At Comic-con you mentioned your love of asking questions of people at the CDC – so is the CDC ready for the zombie apocalypse? And what’s the most interesting conversation you’ve had with someone there?

Mira: “So if I wanted to raise the dead, would this work?” “You can’t raise the dead.” “But would this work?” “You can’t raise the dead.” “Yes, but…” “Just please don’t ever do that.”

Byrt: You also mentioned at Comic-con your conversation with a Canadian pandemic preparedness expert on a flight – what did you talk about, and how disturbed were the people sitting around you?

Mira: Mostly, we talked about pandemic flu and how easy it is to keep corpses cool in hockey rinks. Canada is extreme, yo. Thankfully, we were the only two people in our row, or I think we might have been put off the plane. In mid-air.

Byrt: How close is your fictional disaster scenario to real life concerns?

Mira: Closer than I want it to be.

Byrt: What is it about brains that provide nutritional value for zombies?

Mira: Nothing! The brains thing came from Return of the Living Dead, which isn’t even a Romero movie, and it doesn’t make sense. Brains are mostly fat and water. When I become a zombie, I’m going straight for your juicy sweetmeats.

(Without warning, the two sides merge into one delicious human brain)

Byrt: What’s coming up next for you, as both Mira and Seanan? Can you tell us a little bit about your InCryptid series?

Seanan/Mira: For Seanan, An Artificial Night just came out, and Late Eclipses comes out in March. Sleep is not an option. For Mira, next up is Deadline, in May 2011. Also, lots of short fiction, as both of me. Also-also, I just won the 2010 Campbell Award, so focus is hard. This could get messy.

InCryptid is the story of a family of cryptozoologists fighting to protect the world’s cryptid population from the human race…and, when necessary, vice-versa. They used to belong to a much larger organization, dedicated to wiping cryptids out wholesale, but realized this was an ecologically bad idea. There’s ballroom dancing, lizard men, inflammable blondes, hyper-evolved parasitic wasps, and lots and lots of snark. I love this series so. Oh, and did I mention the talking panthestic demon mice?

Byrt: LOL. I can’t wait!

Thanks again to Seanan/Mira for stopping by the Bookyurt!

For more on Seanan, check out her website here.

For more on Mira, check out her website, here.