Tor.com content by

Seanan McGuire

Fiction and Excerpts [9]
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Fiction and Excerpts [9]

Dusk or Dark or Dawn or Day

|| Something has come for the ghosts of New York, something beyond reason, beyond death, beyond hope; something that can bind ghosts to mirrors and make them do its bidding. Only Jenna stands in its way.

Once Broken Faith

|| Book 10 in the October Daye series. The events Toby has unwittingly set in motion could change the balance of modern Faerie forever, and she has been ordered to appear before a historic convocation of monarchs, hosted by Queen Windermere in the Mists and overseen by the High King and Queen themselves.

If You’re Ready, We Might Go Along Then: Authors and Artists Celebrate Richard Adams and Watership Down

“My heart has joined the Thousand, for my friend stopped running today.”

–Richard Adams, Watership Down

It’s a funny world.

When you ask people who love our genre—who write it, who read it, whose art is inspired and enriched by it—what books helped to form them, you’ll hear the same titles over and over again, shuffled like a deck of cards. Tolkien. McCaffrey. Bradbury. Butler. Some writers might cite Lewis or Lovecraft or Shelley, while others go to King and Friesner and Tiptree. But one strange constant—strange in the sense that it’s not really a genre novel at all, it’s not set in a fantasy world or filled with rockets shooting for the distant stars; the only monsters are all too realistic—is a quiet book about the inner lives of rabbits. Watership Down has, somehow, become a touchstone of modern genre, inspiring writers to write, readers to keep reading, artists to create, all in an attempt to touch once more the feeling we got from a book that owed as much to the British Civil Service as it did to the myths inside us all.

Richard Adams, author of Watership Down and many others, was born in 1920, and passed away on Christmas Eve of 2016. I like to think he knew how much he, and his work, meant to the creators of the world. Most of us did not know the man, but we knew the books he gave us: we knew how they changed us. We knew that we belonged to his Owsla, because he told us so.

Now we will tell you why.

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My Little Ponies: Like 4-H, But for Weirdos

I don’t have many memories from before I was six. I don’t think most people do. We have the idea of memories, the stories our families have told us about how cute we were when we were little, the ridiculous things we did or said or believed. It seems weird to me sometimes that I could have forgotten the things people tell me happened, like the time I brought a rattlesnake home to be my new pet, or the time I spent an entire summer taking taps on top of bookcases, but that’s the thing about human memory. It doesn’t play fair.

One of those early memories, though, one of those rare, precious, treasured memories, is walking through a department store with my grandmother. I was four. She was taking me to get a present. I’m not sure why: it may have had something to do with my mother’s impending marriage to the man who would go on to father my two sisters, or maybe she just felt like it. Whatever the reason, she took me to the toy section and told me I could have two things.

I picked Minty and Cotton Candy, two of the original six My Little Ponies, and thus was an obsession born.

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Dusk or Dark or Dawn or Day

When her sister Patty died, Jenna blamed herself. When Jenna died, she blamed herself for that, too. Unfortunately Jenna died too soon. Living or dead, every soul is promised a certain amount of time, and when Jenna passed she found a heavy debt of time in her record. Unwilling to simply steal that time from the living, Jenna earns every day she leeches with volunteer work at a suicide prevention hotline.

But something has come for the ghosts of New York, something beyond reason, beyond death, beyond hope; something that can bind ghosts to mirrors and make them do its bidding. Only Jenna stands in its way.

Dusk or Dark or Dawn or Day is a new standalone urban fantasy novella from Seanan McGuire, available January 10th from Tor.com Publishing.

[Read an Excerpt]

Fairy Tales and Poetry: Pamela Dean’s Tam Lin

We are the product of the books we read as children and young adults. They shape the vocabulary we use to shape the world we live in: they spark interests and ideas and ideals that we may never be consciously aware of harboring. Sometimes we’re lucky. Sometimes we can point to the exact moment where everything changed.

I was fourteen. I read like books were oxygen and I was in danger of suffocation if I stopped for more than a few minutes. I was as undiscriminating about books as a coyote is about food—I needed words more than I needed quality, and it was rare for me to hit something that would actually make me slow down. It was even rarer for me to hit something that would make me speed up, rushing toward the end so I could close the book, sigh, flip it over, and start again from the beginning.

I liked fairy tales. I liked folk music. When I found a book in a line of books about fairy tales, with a title taken from a ballad, I figured it would be good for a few hours.

I didn’t expect it to change my life.

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Series: That Was Awesome! Writers on Writing

Once Broken Faith

Politics have never been October “Toby” Daye’s strong suit. When she traveled to the Kingdom of Silences to prevent them from going to war with her home, the Kingdom of the Mists, she wasn’t expecting to return with a cure for elf-shot and a whole new set of political headaches. Now the events she unwittingly set in motion could change the balance of modern Faerie forever, and she has been ordered to appear before a historic convocation of monarchs, hosted by Queen Windermere in the Mists and overseen by the High King and Queen themselves.

Naturally, things have barely gotten underway when the first dead body shows up. As the only changeling in attendance, Toby is already the target of suspicion and hostility. Now she needs to find a killer before they can strike again—and with the doors locked to keep the guilty from escaping, no one is safe.

As danger draws ever closer to her allies and the people she loves best, Toby will have to race against time to prevent the total political destabilization of the West Coast and to get the convocation back on track…and if she fails, the cure for elf-shot may be buried forever, along with the victims she was too slow to save.

Seanan McGuire’s Once Broken Faith, the tenth book in her October Daye series, is available September 6th from DAW.

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Sincerity is the Watchword

I watch a lot of horror movies. However many you’re thinking right now, I regret to inform you that you have woefully underestimated the number of horror movies that I have watched in my lifetime. I watch a lot of horror movies. My earliest cinematic memories involve horror movies—Alien when I was three years old, sitting on my uncle’s lap in the living room of our old apartment; The Blob after a midnight trip to the emergency vet to have a cattail removed from my cat’s eye; Critters in my grandmother’s living room, elbows buried in the plush beige carpet, dreaming of marrying the handsome red-haired boy in the lead role. So many horror movies. The only form of media that has arguably had more of an influence on me than the horror movie is the superhero comic book (which is a whole different kettle of worms).

The standards of horror have changed with time, of course. The things we’re afraid of now and the things we were afraid of fifty years ago are not the same, and neither are the avatars we choose to face those fears. We’ve gone from jut-jawed heroes to final girls to clever kids to slackers who somehow stumbled into the wrong movie, and when it’s been successful, it’s been incredible, and when it’s failed, we haven’t even needed to talk about it, because everyone knows. But there’s one ingredient to a really good horror movie that has never changed—that I don’t think ever will change—that I think we need to think about a little harder.

Sincerity.

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Opening Doors: The Chosen Children of Portal Fantasy

This article was originally published January 4, 2016.

Let’s talk about doors for a moment, you and I.

Let’s talk about the power of something closed, whether or not it’s been forbidden; the mystery of the trapdoor that leads up into the attic, the powerful draw of the locked hatch that leads down into the cellar, the irresistible temptation of someone else’s fridge or medicine cabinet. We want to know what’s on the other side—and I don’t mean we want to be told. We want to see. We want to look with our own eyes, and know that no one can take that looking away from us. People are curious. It’s one of our defining characteristics. We want to know.

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Every Heart a Doorway

Seanan McGuire’s Every Heart a Doorway—available April 5th from Tor.com Publishing—introduces readers to Eleanor West’s Home for Wayward Children…

Children have always disappeared under the right conditions; slipping through the shadows under a bed or at the back of a wardrobe, tumbling down rabbit holes and into old wells, and emerging somewhere… else. But magical lands have little need for used-up miracle children.

Nancy tumbled once, but now she’s back. The things she’s experienced… they change a person. The children under Miss West’s care understand all too well. And each of them is seeking a way back to their own fantasy world. But Nancy’s arrival marks a change at the Home. There’s a darkness just around each corner, and when tragedy strikes, it’s up to Nancy and her new-found schoolmates to get to the heart of things.

No matter the cost.

[Read an Excerpt]

Dreams, Destinies, and Opposable Thumbs: The Chosen Children of Portal Fantasy

Let’s talk about doors for a moment, you and I.

Let’s talk about the power of something closed, whether or not it’s been forbidden; the mystery of the trapdoor that leads up into the attic, the powerful draw of the locked hatch that leads down into the cellar, the irresistible temptation of someone else’s fridge or medicine cabinet. We want to know what’s on the other side—and I don’t mean we want to be told. We want to see. We want to look with our own eyes, and know that no one can take that looking away from us. People are curious. It’s one of our defining characteristics. We want to know.

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Fiber

“One car, five cheerleaders, and a totally disregarded speed limit: these are the things that dreams are made of.” But when Heather and her friends head to a rest stop, they drive straight into the middle of a bad horror movie—well, to be fair, as a former zombie, Heather is always in the middle of a horror movie…

Tor.com is pleased to present Seanan McGuire’s short story, “Fiber”, originally published in the Shawn Speakman’s Unbound anthology—available now from Grim Oak Press. Like Unfettered before it, the contributing writers of Unbound were allowed to submit the tales they wished fans of genre to read—without the constraints of a theme. It is an anthology filled with some spectacularly new and wonderful stories, each one as diverse as its creator.

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Midway Relics and Dying Breeds

The trouble with wanting to do the right thing is that frequently the right thing today is the wrong thing for tomorrow, or the wrong thing for the people who are standing between you and your perfect, platonic future. The wild was the wrong place for our elephant, just like the recycler was the wrong place for Billie, and the cities were the wrong place for me. A tale of bioengineering, a carnival, and the cost of finding one’s right place.

This novelette was acquired and edited for Tor.com by senior editor Patrick Nielsen Hayden.

[Read “Midway Relics and Dying Breeds” by Seanan McGuire]

Half-Off Ragnarok (Excerpt)

Check out Half-Off Ragnarok, the third book in Seanan McGuire’s InCryptid series, available March 4th from DAW!

When Alex Price agreed to go to Ohio to oversee a basilisk breeding program and assist in the recovery of his psychic cousin, he didn’t expect people to start dropping dead. But bodies are cropping up at the zoo where he works, and his girlfriend—Shelby Tanner, an Australian zoologist with a fondness for big cats—is starting to get suspicious.

Worse yet, the bodies have all been turned partially to stone…

Alex tries to balance life, work, and the strong desire not to become a piece of garden statuary. Old friends and new are on the scene, and danger lurks around every corner…

[Read an Excerpt]

Indexing (Excerpt)

Check out Seanan McGuire’s new ebook serial, starting with Indexing, out now from 47North:

“Never underestimate the power of a good story.”

Good advice…especially when a story can kill you.

For most people, the story of their lives is just that: the accumulation of time, encounters, and actions into a cohesive whole. But for an unfortunate few, that day-to-day existence is affected—perhaps infected is a better word—by memetic incursion: where narratives the rest of the world considers fairy tales becomes reality, often with disastrous results.

A motley team struggling with their own unfolding narratives, they are tasked with identifying potential outbreaks using the Aarne-Thompson Indexing and making sure the story doesn’t reach “ever after”…because if it does, someone is usually dead, broken—or worse. When you’re dealing with fairy tales in the real world, it doesn’t matter if you’re Cinderella, Snow White, or the Wicked Queen: no one gets a happy ending.

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Midnight Blue Light Special (Excerpt)

We’ve got a sneak peek at Seanan McGuire’s Midnight Blue Light Special, out on March 5th from DAW Books:

Cryptid, noun:
1. Any creature whose existence has been suggested but not proven scientifically. Term officially coined by cryptozoologist John E. Wall in 1983.
2. That thing that’s getting ready to eat your head.
3. See also: “monster.”

The Price family has spent generations studying the monsters of the world, working to protect them from humanity—and humanity from them. Enter Verity Price. Despite being trained from birth as a cryptozoologist, she’d rather dance a tango than tangle with a demon, and when her work with the cryptid community took her to Manhattan, she thought she would finally be free to pursue competition-level dance in earnest. It didn’t quite work out that way…

But now, with the snake cult that was killing virgins all over Manhattan finally taken care of, Verity is ready to settle down for some serious ballroom dancing—until her on-again, off-again, semi-boyfriend Dominic De Luca, a member of the monster-hunting Covenant of St. George, informs her that the Covenant is on their way to assess the city’s readiness for a cryptid purge. With everything and everyone she loves on the line, there’s no way Verity can take that lying down.

Alliances will be tested, allies will be questioned, lives will be lost, and the talking mice in Verity’s apartment will immortalize everything as holy writ—assuming there’s anyone left standing when all is said and done. It’s a midnight blue-light special, and the sale of the day is on betrayal, deceit…and carnage.

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Everything has a Border

The first thing that matters: I am a child of the eighties. I grew up in a neon wonderland of talking horses, compassionate bears, hair that didn’t move in a stiff wind, and the constant threat of nuclear war.* Take a look at the stories we were telling then: children and teens were constantly finding the secret door that led them to the land of multi-colored dimension-hopping dogs, or being carried over the rainbow by smart-mouthed pegasi who needed them to save the world. Girls wished their baby brothers into the custody of goblin kings, boys were whisked away by spaceships, and anything was possible. All you had to do to find the magic was keep your eyes open, and keep looking.

*My Little Ponies, the Care Bears, every teenage girl at the mall, and, well, nukes. We also had talking dogs, frogs, pigs, and lots of other things, but for me, it was the horses and bears that did the most long-term psychological damage.

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