Tor.com content by

Seanan McGuire

Fiction and Excerpts [13]
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Fiction and Excerpts [13]

Zombie Musicals are the Perfect Genre Mash-up

Maybe Michael Jackson saw it first. On the surface, the combination of the living dead with the fun, hyper-bright world of the musical seems, well, ridiculous, two great tastes that absolutely don’t go great together. But somehow, it works. Somehow, when these two great tastes are combined in just the right way, you wind up with something that’s substantially better than the sum of its parts. You wind up with a masterpiece.

“But wait,” you might cry, confused by my assertion that everything is better with zombies, “there can’t possibly be that many zombie musicals! Your entire premise is flawed!”

On the contrary my dear, hypothetical reader, there are so many more zombie musicals than anyone seems to realize—definitely more than I’ve seen, because I guarantee you that this list is going to leave something out. It’s the nature of the beast. The shambling, singing, soft-shoeing beast. And with that in mind, welcome one and all. Welcome to the world of…

[…THE ZOMBIE MUSICAL.]

The Chosen Children of Portal Fantasies

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.

[Read more]

A Good Horror Story Needs to Be Sincere

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.

[Read more]

Read the First Two Chapters of In An Absent Dream, Seanan McGuire’s New Wayward Children Novella

Lundy is a very serious young girl who would rather study and dream than become a respectable housewife and live up to the expectations of the world around her. As well she should.

When she finds a doorway to a world founded on logic and reason, riddles and lies, she thinks she’s found her paradise. Alas, everything costs at the goblin market, and when her time there is drawing to a close, she makes the kind of bargain that never plays out well.

In an Absent Dream is a stand-alone fantasy tale from Seanan McGuire’s award-winning Wayward Children series, which began with Every Heart a Doorway. Available January 8, 2019 from Tor.com Publishing.

[Read more]

The Allure of Gothic Horror

The woman wears a long velvet dressing gown over a lace peignoir that froths around her ankles like seafoam as she runs across the moor. In the distance, the shape of a house grown vast and gloriously terrible beyond any architect’s dreams looms, bleak and menacing and wonderful. The moon is high enough to light the scene; the sun is a lie told by nannies to their charges to keep them from being afraid of the monsters in the night. The monsters are not a lie. The monsters are real. The monsters are already inside the house. The monsters are in the blood and the bone and walls, the monsters are here, the monsters are pursuing the woman through the heather, toward the cliffs overlooking the sea, the monsters are sitting down in the parlor for slices of cake and cups of tea.

Welcome to the gothic horror.

[Read more]

Deep Roots, Deep Wounds: Dealing With the Unavoidable Lovecraft

Growing up as a genre-loving child in the United States during the 1980s, there were figures and faces that couldn’t be avoided. It didn’t matter whether you liked epic fantasy or not: odds were good that you would know who Tolkien was, and be able to explain, at least in broad strokes, the story he’d been trying to share. Stephen King, Ray Bradbury, C.S. Lewis, they all loomed large over the literary landscape we were trying to transverse, setting the shape of the world around us. There were women among their number—Anne McCaffrey, James Tiptree, Jr., A.C. Crispin—but they weren’t very common, and they rarely seemed to sink their roots as deeply.

And then there was H.P. Lovecraft.

[Read more]

The Bodies of the Girls Who Made Me: Fanfic and the Modern World

A good friend of mine—whose name I am not using here, because some bruises deserve to go unprodded, and she has a right to be hurt—said recently, “Every time I talk about writing fanfiction, I get hate mail.” She wasn’t exaggerating. I’ve seen, with my own eyes, what happens to authors, especially female authors, especially female authors of young adult fiction, when they mention their time in the fanfic world.

I got angry. On her behalf; at the world; at the unfairness of it all. What you are about to read came out of that anger. Much of this originally appeared on my Twitter, one concise chunk at a time. I’ve expanded it a little, cleaned it up, and clarified the places where it wasn’t exactly right the first time. The original thread is still on Twitter, if you feel the need to verify that I haven’t changed my tune (but if you hum a few bars, I bet you can harmonize).

[Read more]

Learning to Write Fluffy, Glittery Violence from My Little Pony

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.

[Read more]

Beneath the Sugar Sky (Wayward Children #3)

Beneath the Sugar Sky, the third book in McGuire’s Wayward Children series, returns to Eleanor West’s Home for Wayward Children in a standalone contemporary fantasy for fans of all ages. At this magical boarding school, children who have experienced fantasy adventures are reintroduced to the “real” world.

When Rini lands with a literal splash in the pond behind Eleanor West’s Home for Wayward Children, the last thing she expects to find is that her mother, Sumi, died years before Rini was even conceived. But Rini can’t let Reality get in the way of her quest—not when she has an entire world to save! (Much more common than one would suppose.)

If she can’t find a way to restore her mother, Rini will have more than a world to save: she will never have been born in the first place. And in a world without magic, she doesn’t have long before Reality notices her existence and washes her away. Good thing the student body is well-acquainted with quests…

A tale of friendship, baking, and derring-do.

Warning: May contain nuts.

Available January 9th from Tor.com Publishing.

[Read more]

Down Among the Sticks and Bones

Twin sisters Jack and Jill were seventeen when they found their way home and were packed off to Eleanor West’s Home for Wayward Children.

This is the story of what happened first…

Jacqueline was her mother’s perfect daughter—polite and quiet, always dressed as a princess. If her mother was sometimes a little strict, it’s because crafting the perfect daughter takes discipline.

Jillian was her father’s perfect daughter—adventurous, thrill-seeking, and a bit of a tom-boy. He really would have preferred a son, but you work with what you’ve got.

They were five when they learned that grown-ups can’t be trusted.

They were twelve when they walked down the impossible staircase and discovered that the pretense of love can never be enough to prepare you a life filled with magic in a land filled with mad scientists and death and choices.

Seanan McGuire returns to her popular Wayward Children series with Down Among the Sticks and Bones—a standalone urban fantasy set before the events of Every Heart a Doorway. Available June 13th from Tor.com Publishing.

[Read an Excerpt]

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.

[Read more]

A Good Horror Story Hinges on Sincerity

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.

[Read more]

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.

[Read more]

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]

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