Seanan McGuire is the Hugo Award-, Nebula Award-, Locus Award-, and Campbell Award-winning author of Middlegame, the Wayward Children series, the October Daye series, and many other works. Under the name Mira Grant, she has published the Newsflesh series, the Parasitology series, the Drowning Deep series, and Alien: Echo. Seasonal Fears, the sequel to Middlegame, comes out from Tordotcom Publishing in Spring 2022.
This week, she did a Twitter AMA, hosted by Tordotcom Publishing, where she answered all your questions about her cats, her cats’ D&D classes, book recommendations, favorite passages, favorite characters, favorite character names, inspirations, mentoring, the future of the Indexing series, the future of the Rolling Deep series, the future of the Wayward Children series, and much, much more. Here are the highlights!
[Editor’s note: Questions and responses may have been edited for length and clarity.]
How are the cats?
Fluffy, spoiled, and annoying.
If the cats played D&D what characters and classes would they pick?
Thomas would be a tabaxi Barbarian. He would like to rage.
Meg would be an Elf Bard. She would like to be the prettiest.
Elsie would be a tiefling sorcerer. She would like you to be on fire.
Of all time, probably Teenagers From Outer Space. Right now, D&D 5th ed.
So what’s the largest amount of dice you’ve gotten to roll in a game at once, and what caused it?
I got to roll 417 d6 once in a GURPS Wild Cards game, when my Ace burned all her Con, all her Will, and all her HP to cast at a terrifyingly enhanced level.
Any books you recently finished that you loved?
Oh my gosh I just finished Uprooted by Naomi Novik–her upcoming A Deadly Education is my favorite book of 2020 so far–and it was incredible. Just blew me completely and gloriously away. I cannot recommend it highly enough.
What about music that you’re really into at the moment?
I mean, right this second, I’m listening to “Heaven,” by Kira Isabella, from her fantastic album Caffeine and Big Dreams. And I just got a copy of Folklore, which I’ll be allowed to listen to once I finish editing six more chapters of my current book. But mostly right now, I’m super into Broadway soundtracks–Six, Beetlejuice, and The Lightning Thief, specifically.
Let’s talk about writing. Is there a particular passage you’re most proud of?
The ending of Middlegame is probably the thing I am currently proudest of. That, or the opening of “Dusk or Dawn or Dark or Day.”
You often focus on the relationship of siblings, rather than romantic ones, what inspires you to do so?
I am, personally, on the asexual spectrum–what’s called a gray ace, which is probably more than you wanted to know about my personal life, but this is where we are. Lacking a lot of interest in certain aspects of a romantic relationship, but being very interested in sibling relationships, this tends to direct my writing.
Do you ever find that it’s hard to keep your worlds and characters separate? Or have you envisioned any of them being friends, or interacting?
I mean, idle contemplation comes for everyone, but keeping them all straight is a skill I have honed from years upon years of television binging. If the doctors from Grey’s Anatomy aren’t getting shot up by the kids from The Umbrella Academy, I think I can keep my worlds distinct.
Out of all the characters you have written, who’s your favorite or most fun to write?
Most fun to write flexes day by day between the mad science girls (Dr. Abbey, Dr. Cale, Jack Wolcott) and the manic pixie nightmare women (Foxy, Tansy, Sumi). I have my archetypical extremes.
To further narrow things down, who’s your favorite non-human character to write?
Sarah Zellaby, telepathic math wasp.
What about character names you’re most proud of?
Character name, probably Roger and Dodger, as a team, just because I got to make so many serious reviewers say their names without rolling their eyes. I am mean and I appreciate it.
Why depth perception for Dodger and color for Roger in Middlegame?
In both cases, it was to hurt them as much as possible. Depth perception connects to math, and color meant he had a bunch of words that didn’t make sense unless he had his sister. They wouldn’t have cared as much in the opposite direction.
What inspires you to create the world of Wayward Children?
If this question was meant to be past-tense, the series was partially inspired by a song I wrote, called “Wicked Girls,” which was inspired by my love of portal fantasy. If this question was meant to be present tense, everything. I draw new worlds and new doors from everything around me, and then I’m inspired to actually write by having deadlines I need to meet.
Do you write the series with a word limit in mind?
They’re written as novellas, which means there is a word limit inherent in the process.
Have you thought about writing a book specifically for Kade in the series?
Kade comes last.
This makes me as sad as it makes everyone else, but the world is awful, and Kade is a trans character being written by a cis author, who was very intentionally made to not have always known. He’s modeled on a friend of mine who didn’t always know, and whose trans experience doesn’t show up often in fiction. So Kade is a boy who will say that he was once a girl, because he really believed that was his identity. He didn’t lie to the fairies of Prism when they came and took him through his door; he just didn’t know.
So the first line of his book is very likely to be something on the order of “There was once a little girl named Katie whose only crime was in believing she existed.” And that, right there, is deadnaming him and misgendering him at the very start of the book, and with so many other cis authors being excellent examples of terrible people (thank you, JKR), I would be hurting my readers and doing them a massive disservice.
I need you all to trust me more before we get to Kade, and that means I need you to spend more time with me, and see more evidence that I’m not a terrible person, before I can present that line without it doing harm. “Do no harm you can avoid” is my personal creed, so Kade has to wait.
With the recent talk about writing for IPs and whatnot, is there a particular IP you would like to write a book for?
I would absolutely love the opportunity to write for Leverage, Fringe, or generation one My Little Pony. I’d also like the chance to write a novel for either Ghost-Spider or X-Men. I love IP work. It’s like fanfic, but canon.
On the other side of this equation, are there any of your works you’d like to see adapted as a TV series or movie(s)?
Most of them, because I love TV and movies. Wayward Children and October Daye are currently under development.
What inspired the Indexing Series? Will you ever write more?
Spending several years at university working toward my folklore degree, and I would absolutely love to, if 47 North would commission it.
What about the killer mermaids? Will Mira Grant ever write any more stories in the Drowning Deep series, following Rolling in the Deep and Into the Drowning Deep?
Only if Orbit Books commissions them, I’m afraid. I desperately want to write the next book (titled Out of the Swallowing Sea), but it’s up to them.
You announced 2 books, one of which comes out this fall, that are companions to “Middlegame.” Should we expect more?
If you’ve met me, you know I have trouble letting go of things. As long as Tordotcom allows, I’ll probably keep playing in this universe–at least until the story finishes, which is still a long way away.
So how do we beg Tordotcom to allow you to write more books in the “Wayward Children” series? (Not a joke!)
I mean, also not a joke, this is part of how you do it. You say “we want more books in this series, and we will continue to pay for them.” You make memes or fan art, you engage with the material. I know that sounds greedy of me, but it’s the truth. Buying, reading, reviewing, and engaging with are very important for the survival of a series.
Would you ever mentor someone? Asking for, uh, a friend.
If asked, and if I thought we would be good for each other, absolutely.