"I'm not writing at the moment because I'm talking to you."
May 4, 2019 2:47 PM   Subscribe

Seanan McGuire writes novels and stories usually classified as urban fantasy. There are 33 novel-length works currently listed on the bibliography page of her website, which is not quite up-to-date and doesn't include her books published under the pseudonym Mira Grant. "The crazy part? She didn't turn to full-time writing until about three years ago."

Middlegame, her latest novel, will be released Tuesday.

McGuire is 41, lives in California, and pronounces her name SHAWN-in. She's won both Hugo and Nebula awards, as well as the World Science Fiction Convention's Best New Writer award, and the American Library Association's Alex Award. In addition to writing, she also records music and does a little drawing.

Her writings include:

The Incryptid series: multiple generations of the Price and Healy families (and their Aeslin mice companions), protecting the cryptids of the world from those who would harm them without just cause. The 8 main novels are the stories of siblings Verity, Alex, and Antimony Price. Over 30 stories, most available for download, have some backstory of their ancestors and friends. There's also an extensive Field Guide to the cryptids, included in each book, and available online. Rose Marshall, the heroine of the 2 books in the Ghost Roads series, lives exists in the same world, and the books share some characters.

October Daye: a fae half-breed, former street kid, and self-exiled knight-errant from the Duchy of Shadowed Hills, trying to find her footing in a world trying to kill her. Currently 12 novels and 10 stories.

Wayward Children: the ones who go through the doors from a world where they never quite fit in to the place where they've always belonged. And what happens when they find themselves back where they started, now aware of how much they're missing. Currently 4 short novels, with more promised.

Velveteen, a superhero in a universe where cosmic powers not only come with great responsibility, they come with great legislation, merchandising, and focus group oversight. Velma "Velveteen" Martinez's superpower is her ability to animate stuffed animals. A series of stories, collected into 3 books.

Indexing, 2 collections of stories of the agents who put their lives on the line to keep fairy tales from manifesting in our world. Because once they begin, they won't stop until they achieve their idea of happily ever after. No matter how many bodies this leaves in their wake.

As well as a helpful guide to surviving fairy tales, too many stories and other writings to list, and her blog.
posted by still_wears_a_hat (49 comments total) 50 users marked this as a favorite
She also won 2 Hugos as part of the sadly on-hiatus SF Squeecast.
posted by signal at 2:57 PM on May 4 [2 favorites]

...slightly odd angle? Rosemary and Rue came out like ten years ago, and she's been publishing steadily since.
posted by praemunire at 3:13 PM on May 4 [4 favorites]

She's active on Twitter. Don't ask her why Thomas wears a shirt. He wears it because he over grooms and gets sick, so she shaves him and he wears fancy shirts.

Thomas is a giant Maine Coon. She lives with three of them.

She also collects 1st generation My Little Ponies.
posted by 80 Cats in a Dog Suit at 3:20 PM on May 4 [6 favorites]

Ooh I like her!
posted by Literaryhero at 3:22 PM on May 4 [3 favorites]

She also writes comic books for Marvel.

Her Twitter: here
posted by 80 Cats in a Dog Suit at 3:37 PM on May 4 [1 favorite]

She’s one of the reasons I’m still on Twitter.
posted by Nancy_LockIsLit_Palmer at 3:41 PM on May 4 [2 favorites]

I can only speak to the two books of her Wayward Children series that I have read, but they are a delight.

She’s tweeted about writers and the ACA before, and that is a piece of the discourse on health policy that is often left out so I am glad she is doing it.
posted by gauche at 3:46 PM on May 4 [7 favorites]

Oops, posted too late. "Then the ACA happened, the Affordable Care Act. I don't think people realize what a difference that made, for all of us that work in the creative fields, to be able to get affordable insurance. "
posted by Peach at 3:53 PM on May 4 [14 favorites]

Toby Daye is the best !!!!!

That’s all...
posted by Pendragon at 3:55 PM on May 4 [4 favorites]

My favorite work by her is her Black Death song. It commits great feats of bouncy, jaunty morbidness, and I love it so much. "You need a viral agent that that is tried and tragic -- let's take a look at fevers that are hemorrhagic!"
posted by mixedmetaphors at 3:57 PM on May 4 [3 favorites]

Well, I can attest that her stories have in abundance what is for me the cardinal virtue of good SFF: they annihilate time.

Just a moment ago, it was an hour and a half ago.
posted by jamjam at 4:22 PM on May 4 [9 favorites]

80 Cats in a Dog Suit: "She also writes comic books for Marvel. "

Ghost-Spider and The Amazing Nightcrawler at the moment.
posted by signal at 4:34 PM on May 4 [3 favorites]

Thomas is a Glorious Overlord, and is larger than you'd think from the pictures (and the pictures would make you think he's a big boy).

I keep thinking I'm going to need to rearrange one of my bookshelves to cope with Seanan's output. It's already taken over one shelf... and I'm looking forward to Middlegame.
posted by Making You Bored For Science at 4:34 PM on May 4 [2 favorites]

I'm just going to drop a link to the website for her horror-type-stuff pseudonym noted above, Mira Grant. The first thing of Seanan's/Mira's I read was "Feed", which is bloggers killing zombies and weird parasitology, which amused me greatly.
posted by rmd1023 at 5:24 PM on May 4 [5 favorites]

I like her. Her Newsflesh books got me through dark times in my media career. “At least zombies are not after us” (and the worse threat which I redact for spoilers.)
posted by warriorqueen at 5:47 PM on May 4 [3 favorites]

I got to see Seanan McGuire speak recently (and if you ever have a chance, grab on with both hands, because she is an amazing speaker). Seattle Public Library recorded the evening for their podcast (pdf transcript probably done by computers).
posted by Margalo Epps at 6:10 PM on May 4 [5 favorites]

My last girlfriend handed me her copy of Feed back when we'd just started dating and had to deal with me going through all of the Newsflesh books at high speed, insisting she read Feedback because she hadn't, and telling her all of my theories about the books as well as listening to me complain about the political side. I've liked several of her other books, especially the Mira Grant stuff and the Indexing series. I cannot get into October Daye at all, though.
posted by bile and syntax at 6:47 PM on May 4 [2 favorites]

She lives in California or the Seattle area?

I wish they’d said something about her writing process. More than how many books she’s reading, I’d love to know how many she’s writing simultaneously, how many drafts she goes through, how she manages her work. That output is amazing, and I need to look up some of her work.
posted by lhauser at 6:51 PM on May 4 [2 favorites]

She also once fostered en emu named Gus, who was an asshole.
posted by hanov3r at 7:31 PM on May 4 [3 favorites]

She used to live in California and now lives in the Seattle area.
posted by mephron at 7:42 PM on May 4

Hmm I read Feed and the first couple of October Daye books, but somehow didn't realize until now that they were written by the same person.
posted by grandiloquiet at 7:45 PM on May 4

She is my favorite author. I've liked almost everything she's ever done*, which is impressive for me because usually I only seem to like one series per author and never really get into their other series. She is on my wish list of people I wish I could be friends with but never can. I got to see her once before she moved and it was super cool. I did a fan website about October Daye to keep track of the details in that one. I would probably chalk up her work ethic to being pretty Capricorn-y workaholic--she kind of reminds me of LMM in that way. October Daye and Feed have blown my tiny little mind and InCryptid is getting there (it started out as more of a fun fluff series but has gotten deeper) and Velveteen is super awesome and profound and so is Indexing. I wouldn't normally be into the killer mermaid stuff and even that was interesting to me.

Favorite characters: George and the Luidaeg.

I remember when the ACA came out so that she could quit having a day job. I really hope she doesn't have to do a day job again and makes all the monies with TV so she doesn't have to worry. Her animal stories are a delight and I'm sorry people have harassed her enough about them so that she can't tell them any more online. There was a super cool one that basically boiled down to "lizard noodling" in which she had to figure out how to remove a lizard that had run into a guy's leg wound. In person the one time, I got to hear about all kinds of reptile fun, swallowing a tapeworm, etc.

I was not as much into Parasiteology, which is a pretty different style due to plot reasons. Sorry. And in all honesty I wasn't feeling the first five chapters of Middlegame I read online for the same reason. I feel so guilty.
posted by jenfullmoon at 7:56 PM on May 4 [5 favorites]

I knew her from her filk music, long before she was a pro writer.
posted by ErisLordFreedom at 8:15 PM on May 4

New to me - thanks for the post. Looks intriguing, and will give Discount Armageddon a shot!
posted by davidmsc at 8:16 PM on May 4 [1 favorite]

Hey, she reblogged one of my Tumblr posts this week! I was wondering why it had blown up. I will have to check her out; thanks!
posted by ilana at 8:28 PM on May 4 [1 favorite]

Read all her stuff and every time I used to go to Paso Nogal park I'd look for Hawthorne trees. Was so bummed to miss her when she came out to the local bookstore that's like a block from where I live.
posted by BrotherCaine at 10:00 PM on May 4 [1 favorite]

I will vouch for the two Incryptid novels that I've read so far, which are not perhaps stunningly original in terms of urban fantasy but are buzzing with energy. (Indexing didn't do much for me.)
posted by mark k at 10:28 PM on May 4 [1 favorite]

I'm amazed at the writers like her, the machine that is Brandon Sanderson and all of MeFi own and others who can slam out, good quality fiction at the year over rate. I struggle to do a "how-to" style book in 6 months and these jerks are out there crushing it. (Have loved the OD series even if I get annoyed with some of the intentional depowering)
posted by drewbage1847 at 11:06 PM on May 4 [1 favorite]

I did a fan website about October Daye to keep track of the details in that one.

Here's a link to that website.

It has also helped me keep track of the details, so thanks, jenfullmoon!
posted by Pendragon at 1:25 AM on May 5 [2 favorites]

I really liked the Incryptid series, both the novels and stories, liked Indexing and Velveteen, couldn't quite get into October Daye, but was completely blown away by the Wayward Children books. The kids feeling like they didn't belong in the real world really resonated with me, even though the alternative world was objectively harder. I'd recommend them to anyone who ever felt like that.
posted by still_wears_a_hat at 6:10 AM on May 5 [2 favorites]

Seanan is sui generis.

In addition to writing as Seanan Mcguire and Mira Grant, she is rumoured to have a couple of spare pseudonyms under which she writes (or used to write) Harlequin romances, at the rate of about one a month. I once asked her what her annual paying word count was: she did some brief sums, then came out with "2.2 million words"—a Charles Hamilton level of output. Harry Turtledove, at 850,000 words/year, is reputedly prolific; I max out at about 40% of a Turtledove—Seanan actually writes about as much in six weeks as I usually manage in a year.

Despite which, she's good at it.

(The only reason I'm not slack-jawed with green-eyed envy is that I once had the misfortune to have an attack of hypergraphia, during the course of which I wrote an entire novel in 18 days. ("The Annihilation Score", in case you were wondering.) That's Seanan's normal output level, which I actually hit and sustained for a couple of weeks … and I can tell you, it's brutal: a month of it would put me in hospital. I have no idea how she sustains it continuously and all I can do is boggle at the consequences.)
posted by cstross at 7:38 AM on May 5 [33 favorites]

Thank you! Mira Grant fan here, need to go down a rabbit hole, SYRS (see you real soon).
posted by TrishaU at 7:41 AM on May 5 [4 favorites]

I was not as much into Parasiteology, which is a pretty different style due to plot reasons.

I also couldn't get into this. Partly because I tried it around the time I infected myself with parasites to help control my autoimmune disease (which worked but was too expensive to maintain), partly because I felt a lot of what was going to happen was too predictable, and largely because the main character was so unlikeable. I work in disability and have a ton of sympathy and empathy for people dealing with TBIs, but - I just couldn't get into the character because she was so unpleasant.

With October Daye my issue was that halfway through the first book I realized that everyone was a cisgender straight married parent in a book literally about fairies set in San Francisco, and I already live in a world that centers cis straight married parents to the point where reading about them is not the escape I go to fiction for. I know that a friend of mine is a minor character later in one of the books and she kills him (this is a thing she does with friends, apparently) and I'd love to see that, but... not enough to keep going when I could be reading books with LGBT characters, including other of her books.

Into the Drowning Deep, though, that was amazing. I love how excited she gets about science. I'm also liking the Wayward Children series, that's a lot of fun in a totally different way.
posted by bile and syntax at 8:14 AM on May 5 [3 favorites]

I used to follow her on Tumblr, but unfollowed because her feed was doubling the number of posts to read every day. Does she sleep?
posted by Halloween Jack at 8:35 AM on May 5 [1 favorite]

I've read the Incryptid series a few times (including the many short stories), the Wayward Children somewhat more. I've only read Indexing twice and the sequel once, but now that I've found them again they're going in the rotation. I really love these books and especially how the Wayward Children are like nothing else out there. (I got my daughter hooked on them too.)

I've read at least the first book in each other series. I think October Daye is difficult to read, at least in part, because the main character is suicidal but to tired to do anything. She gets in all sorts of dangerous situations, basically starts to die and gets brought back to life multiple times, and throughout it all, just doesn't really care. It was exhausting and brutal and I'm not sure I could go back in to spend more time with her in later books.

Oh, and for those of you wanting to hear the lizard story, she does tell it in the podcast I linked to earlier. (She even sings a few stanzas of her Black Death song.)
posted by Margalo Epps at 9:32 AM on May 5 [1 favorite]

I knew her from a WoD roleplaying community back in the long ago, which makes it /very hard/ for me to read her books. I remember when she first started writing, she recycled some plots from that community, which seemed sort of questionably ethical - they were plots that had happened to her characters, but because it was online roleplaying, the interactions of the other characters to her character were written by other people, who were not credited in dedications or asked if they consented to that plot being used in a book for pay. I’m sure she’s probably grown past that, but it just left a really bad taste in my mouth.
posted by corb at 10:21 AM on May 5 [3 favorites]

I think October Daye is difficult to read, at least in part, because the main character is suicidal but to tired to do anything. She gets in all sorts of dangerous situations, basically starts to die and gets brought back to life multiple times, and throughout it all, just doesn't really care. It was exhausting and brutal and I'm not sure I could go back in to spend more time with her in later books.

I would say that it improves from there. Seanan did say that October is clinically depressed (which makes sense given her past) and after about book three or so she has more of a reason to go on. You do need to read ALL the books so I could not tell you to skip books one or two, but even those who said they didn't like Toby at first seem to have gotten into the books later--or so people IRL told me. But up to you, I am not your book dictator.

With October Daye my issue was that halfway through the first book I realized that everyone was a cisgender straight married parent in a book literally about fairies set in San Francisco, and I already live in a world that centers cis straight married parents to the point where reading about them is not the escape I go to fiction for.

Ah....nope. Turns out most of the faerie characters in the series are bisexual (it's apparently unusual to be monosexual, I think Toby and January are the only canon ones) and as you go on, there's other relationships that aren't just straight cisgendered married ones. One character is transgender but it isn't revealed until it becomes more relevant to the plot.
posted by jenfullmoon at 10:34 AM on May 5 [6 favorites]

I was just yesterday discussing writing productivity with my son, in the context of an upcoming author event with Erin Hunter, who has published (according to the three "also by this author" pages at the front of a recent novel) about 120 books over the past twelve years. "That's only possible," I said, "because 'Erin Hunter' is a pseudonym for a team of six different people." Then we speculated about which part of "Erin Hunter" we might meet if we went to the event.

Well, perhaps I was wrong about what's possible.
posted by fantabulous timewaster at 1:27 PM on May 5


At the point where I quit, yes.

I've heard from a number of people that she introduces LGBT characters in later books, but I wasn't captivated enough by other things to slog through to that point.
posted by bile and syntax at 3:10 PM on May 5

I did not figure out that writing was an option until I was about three. I started reading before I was talking, really. Then I started getting migraines because I was trying to write, but I didn't have the physical coordination to actually write at the speed that I could think.

So the doctor prescribed a typewriter.

So there's that story in Sandman, where an author has imprisoned Morpheus's ex, who is an actual Greek muse, in order to have stories on command. Morpheus (Lord of Stories) then punishes the author by granting him such intense graphomania that he wears down his fingers scratching his stories and poems into walls. I wonder what McGuire and the Dream King were talking about when she was three.
posted by es_de_bah at 9:44 AM on May 6 [3 favorites]

I think the Wayward Children books show her at her best. Down Among the Sticks and Stones just wrecked me.

I didn't much like the Newsflesh books she wrote as "Mira Grant"; and while I've read all the InCryptid books, I find them a bit too precious for my taste. I've whittled away at the (many, many) UF series I was reading eight years ago and the October Daye books are among the very few to make the cut. I like Toby.

That said, I think McGuire is aiming higher with the Wayward Children books -- they're stylistically more interesting and carefully wrought, each is its own fully realized theme, portal stories are essentially all about transformative desire and its many costs, and McGuire's sensibilities are both deft and wrenching and well-suited to this material.

She shows no sign of running out of ideas or energy. She's a marvel.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 5:04 PM on May 6

Oh damn I just realized the lizard noodling story is in that podcast!
posted by jenfullmoon at 10:44 PM on May 6

The Wayward Children looked interesting, but aren't they basically novellas at hardback prices? That was the impression I got when I looked them up a while ago, anyway.
posted by Joe in Australia at 4:45 AM on May 7

They are novellas, and I didn’t know it reading the first one, which meant I ran headfirst into what I experienced as really awkward pacing. It was an excellent concept but so rushed that it left really big plot holes and weird motivations.
posted by PussKillian at 6:19 AM on May 7 [1 favorite]

So - how do we feel about Middlegame? I finished devouring it yesterday evening before bed. She said it took her a long time to be able to be a good enough writer to handle the concept, and I agree. I really liked it but tend to love her worldbuilding and the intense amount of thought and detail she puts into creating systems of magic, and felt like her love of King was evident in a couple different ways that I appreciated as well.

I know she mentioned that this can be a standalone but that she has follow-ups in mind should the publishers be interested, so I'm quite curious to see where she might take that, given the meandering nature of the Wayward Children series. There's a lot of room in this universe for lots of different kinds of stories, unsurprisingly.

I'm really curious how she chooses the dates for the various parts of her storylines. As someone born in late June, it seems like that period of the year is significant for her, for reasons I've yet to be able to pinpoint - but multiple series (across both author names) have pivotal events happening around that time on the calendar. I just missed the chance to ask on her twitter when she was taking questions yesterday; I hope I can remember to ask next time she opens that up.
posted by miratime at 7:19 AM on May 8 [1 favorite]

I tried to read Middlegame at the bookstore during lunch (around 120 pages, I had already read the first five chapters online and I also speedread) to figure out if I wanted to read more of it or not. To be honest I am not whoppingly in love with the premise or characters and most of the premise is very creepy horror story. I hate to say it given my fandom, but that might end up being a library read. I feel neutral so far.
posted by jenfullmoon at 1:59 PM on May 9

I love Seanan's books. I just came here to plug Into the Drowning Deep and its prequel novella Rolling in the Deep. I would really like more murder mermaid stories and she can't write them unless these sell, please and thank you.
posted by domo at 12:42 PM on May 10 [2 favorites]

I cheaped out and requestd Middlegame from my library.
posted by puddledork at 1:19 PM on May 11 [1 favorite]

I cheaped out and requestd Middlegame from my library.

I get almost all my books from the library first and only buy copies of the ones I love. It's good to be encouraging libraries to buy more diverse books too, not just do it yourself.
posted by Margalo Epps at 10:02 PM on May 11 [4 favorites]

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