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Seanan McGuire Interview - Writing Fantasy and Worldbuilding

Be the Serpent
Seanan McGuire




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October Daye #16

September 2022
On Sale: September 6, 2022
368 pages
ISBN: 0756416868
EAN: 9780756416867
Kindle: B09N6KN7RR
Hardcover / e-Book
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Also by Seanan McGuire:
Be the Serpent, September 2022
Add to review list
When Sorrows Come, August 2022
Seasonal Fears, May 2022
Spelunking Through Hell, March 2022


Your world building and character development are phenomenal! All the various relationships and past histories of Faerie are so complex and yet you spell it out so easily for the reader to follow without us having to draw a family tree or genogram. How do you keep track of your various worlds and the characters while you are writing?

I set up private wikis, which I then keep on thumb drives so I can travel with them if I’m going to be away from home while I’m working on one of the larger continuities!


I love the irony of a changeling who was turned into a fish for 14 years later being married to one of the Cait Sidhe. Was this planned from the beginning with a long-term plot or do your characters lead you into sometimes unexpected directions?

I honestly believed, in the beginning, that Toby was going to get together with Connor and be happy.  I also started building this world when I was nineteen and had a much simpler view of some of the ways the world worked.  Tybalt was a wonderful surprise for me.


And to go along with the prior question, where did you get the inspiration to turn Toby into a fish?

That was the very first thing I had, was turning Toby into a fish.  I was standing on the moon bridge in Golden Gate Park’s Japanese Tea Garden—I hate that thing, I always get stuck at the top—and trying to motivate myself down, when I saw the koi, and the line “Spending fourteen years as a koi in Golden Gate Park’s Japanese Tea Gardens does very little for one’s outlook on life” popped into my head.  So Toby came with that pre-bundled.


I like that you address the very real impacts of trauma on your characters without having them “just get over it.” I also love the diversity of your characters as we can all see ourselves in at least one of the characters. Where do you draw your inspiration for your characters and their various hardships they face?

I have experienced personal trauma, which has left me very sensitive to the ways trauma is portrayed in fiction.  It’s the reason I won’t write about some forms of trauma, and the reason I try to be very clear about the fact that if someone hits you and says sorry, you will still have been hit: the apology doesn’t erase the bruises.

I try for a degree of diversity that reflects the world around me, and I feel like I could absolutely be doing better than I am, so I’ll just keep trying.  That’s really all anyone can ever do, is keep trying and doing the best that they possibly can.


OMG that last chapter in BE THE SERPENT! I know readers will be anxious for the next book or a teaser of what comes next after that ending. Any hints for the future or upcoming release dates?

I’m pretty sure that even with the recent changes at my publisher - DAW has been sold to Astra - we’ll be sticking to the yearly publication schedule.  I can tell you that we’re picking up from where we were standing at the end of the book, and that it will all make sense in the end.  This is the kind of story I really love to tell, and I’m so excited to get the chance to tell it!


If you could only pick one of your books, other than this one, to a romance reader unfamiliar with your work, which one would you pick? And why?

I mean, let’s be fair, I wouldn’t handpick sixteen in an ongoing series to a romance reader unfamiliar with my work, legit ever.  If it was someone completely new, who was primarily a reader of romance, I’d ask them what they liked best about reading romance and base my recommendation on that.  Probably I’d recommend either Middlegame or Seasonal Fears, but that’s not as personal as I prefer to be.

Middlegame isn’t a romance in any traditional sense: it’s a story about siblings.  But it hits a lot of the narrative beats that many romance readers I’ve known will enjoy.  And Seasonal Fears is a true romance in many ways.

If it’s a romance reader who likes urban fantasy, I’d go with Discount Armageddon.  It’s urban fantasy, it’s fun, it’s flirty, and it has a romance at its core.


Other authors I’ve interviewed have told me that the kinds of books they enjoy reading are different from the kind of books they enjoy writing. What do you like to read? Favorite books? Favorite author?

I read just about everything.  I love urban fantasy, which is part of why I write it.  I also love modern fantasy, and epic fantasy, and science fiction, and horror, and non-fiction.  My comfort reads are usually about pandemic disease, which has gotten…less comforting in the last two years.

My favorite overall authors are Terry Pratchett, Stephen King, Kelley Armstrong, and Tanya Huff.  My favorite books (restricting myself to five) are The Last Unicorn, by Peter Beagle, The Stand, by Stephen King, Deerskin, by Robin McKinley, Nettle and Bone, by T. Kingfisher, and The Past is Red, by Catherynne M. Valente.

BE THE SERPENT by Seanan McGuire

October Daye #16

Be the Serpent

Now in hardcover, the sixteenth novel of the Hugo-nominated, New York Times-bestselling October Daye urban fantasy series.

October Daye is finally something she never expected to be: married. All the trials and turmoils and terrors of a hero’s life have done very little to prepare her for the expectation that she will actually share her life with someone else, the good parts and the bad ones alike, not just allow them to dabble around the edges in the things she wants to share. But with an official break from hero duties from the Queen in the Mists, and her family wholly on board with this new version of “normal,” she’s doing her best to adjust.

It isn’t always easy, but she’s a hero, right? She’s done harder.

Until an old friend and ally turns out to have been an enemy in disguise for this entire time, and October’s brief respite turns into a battle for her life, her community, and everything she has ever believed to be true.

The debts of the Broken Ride are coming due, and whether she incurred them or not, she’s going to be the one who has to pay.


Romance Fantasy [DAW, On Sale: September 6, 2022, Hardcover / e-Book, ISBN: 9780756416867 / ]

Buy BE THE SERPENTAmazon.com | Kindle | BN.com | Powell's Books | Books-A-Million | Indie BookShops | Ripped Bodice | Love's Sweet Arrow | Walmart.com | Book Depository | Target.com | Amazon CA | Amazon UK | Amazon DE | Amazon FR

About Seanan McGuire

Seanan McGuire

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.

Often described as a vortex of the surreal, many of Seanan's personal anecdotes end with things like "and then we got the anti-venom" or "but it's okay, because it turned out the water wasn't all that deep." She has yet to be defeated in a game of "Who here was bitten by the strangest thing?," and can be amused for hours by just about anything. Just about anything includes swamps, long walks, long walks in swamps, most of the things that live in swamps, horror movies, strange noises, musical theater, reality television, comic books, finding pennies on the street, and venomous reptiles. Seanan may be the only person on the planet who admits to using Kenneth Muir's Horror Films of the 1980s as a checklist.

Seanan's first novel, Rosemary and Rue [Amazon]|[Mysterious Galaxies], was published by DAW Books on September 1st, 2009. The sequel, A Local Habitation, will be released on March 2nd, 2010. Her short fiction has appeared in Ravens in the Library, Grants Pass, and The Edge of Propinquity. She's working on several other books, just to make sure she never runs out of things to edit.

Seanan belongs to the Book View Cafe, an organization of professional authors who like to give away free fiction. It's fun! Check them out.

In her spare time, Seanan writes and records original music. She has three CDs currently available (see the Albums page for additional details), and is currently recording a fourth. She is also a cartoonist, and draws an irregularly posted autobiographical web comic, "With Friends Like These...", as well as generating a truly ridiculous number of art cards. Surprisingly enough, she finds time to take multi-hour walks, blog regularly, watch a sickening amount of television, maintain her website, and go to pretty much any movie that has the words "blood," "night," "terror," or "attack" in the title. Most people believe that she doesn't sleep.

Seanan lives in a creaky old farmhouse in Northern California, which she shares with her two cats, Lilly and Alice, a vast collection of plush things and horror movies, and sufficient books to officially qualify her as a fire hazard. She has strongly-held and oft-expressed beliefs about the origins of the Black Death, the X-Men, and the need for chainsaws in daily life.

Years of writing blurbs for convention program books have firmly fixed Seanan in the habit of writing all her bios in the third person, so as to sound marginally less dorky. Stress is on the "marginally." It probably doesn't help that she has so many hobbies.

InCryptid | October Daye | Wayward Children





1 comment posted.

Re: Seanan McGuire Interview - Writing Fantasy and Worldbuilding

(Ida Dalton 6:34am September 1)

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