Tor.com content by

Seanan McGuire

Fiction and Excerpts [20]
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Fiction and Excerpts [20]

The Appeal 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.

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The Bodies of the Girls Who Made Me: On Fanfic and Storytelling

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).

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Gormenghast With Hooves: Learning the Art of Dark Storytelling 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 naps 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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The Best Horror Stories Commit to 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.

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Read the First Chapter of The Unkindest Tide, a New October Daye Novel from Seanan McGuire

Hundreds of years ago, the Selkies made a deal with the sea witch: they would have the sea for as long as she allowed it, and when the time came, she would call in all their debts at once. Many people assumed that day would never come. Those people were wrong…

The thirteenth novel in Seanan McGuire’s October Daye urban fantasy series, The Unkindest Tide publishes September 3rd with DAW—read the first chapter below!

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Seanan McGuire’s Personal Top Ten Urban Fantasy Books For Adults

I like urban fantasy. A lot. I write it, so it’s a good thing that I enjoy it, but I’ve been reading it since it really began to become a thing, and have a fairly broad knowledge of the genre. I was asked, after a Twitter thread about awesome urban fantasy authors, whether I would be interested in writing up a recommendation post. Well, sure; any excuse to talk about the books I love! But first, a few caveats:

  • This is not a list of the very best, you must read this, absolutely essential urban fantasy books. This is a list of urban fantasy I would personally recommend.
  • By the same measure, if something is not included, I didn’t forget it, I didn’t include it. Now maybe that means it’s something I didn’t read. Or maybe it means it’s something I didn’t enjoy. Since this is not “Seanan starts a feud within her genre,” I will not be specifying which is which. When reading and enjoying this article, if moved to comment, please don’t comment with “BUT YOU FORGOT…” I assure you, I did not.

And now, with no further ado, I present to you,

Seanan’s Personal Top Ten Urban Fantasy Books For Adults (Because There’s So Much Awesome YA That We’d Be Here All Week)

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“Sit down, write, keep writing” — Seanan McGuire on the Daily Process of Writing a Novel Like Middlegame

So I’ve been asked to write about the process of writing Middlegame, and why I feel like it’s different from other books I’ve written. And to be honest, this request made me a little uncomfortable, because nothing activates my raging case of imposter syndrome like being asked to write about my process, as if I were some big, fancy artist doing big, fancy things, and not me, writing daily, sometimes with frosting on my nose, almost always in my pajamas.

[This is my process: I get out of bed…]

Read Seanan McGuire’s Middlegame: Part Five

Meet Roger. Skilled with words, languages come easily to him. He instinctively understands how the world works through the power of story. Meet Dodger, his twin. Numbers are her world, her obsession, her everything. All she understands, she does so through the power of math. Roger and Dodger aren’t exactly human, though they don’t realise it. They aren’t exactly gods, either. Not entirely. Not yet.

Meet Reed, skilled in the alchemical arts like his progenitor before him. Reed created Dodger and her brother. He’s not their father. Not quite. But he has a plan: to raise the twins to the highest power, to ascend with them and claim their authority as his own.

Godhood is attainable. Pray it isn’t attained.

Author Seanan McGuire introduces readers to a world of amoral alchemy, shadowy organizations, and impossible cities in the standalone fantasy, Middlegame, out from Tor.com Publishing on May 7th. Read Part Five below, or head back to the beginning with Part One!

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Read Seanan McGuire’s Middlegame: Part Four

Meet Roger. Skilled with words, languages come easily to him. He instinctively understands how the world works through the power of story. Meet Dodger, his twin. Numbers are her world, her obsession, her everything. All she understands, she does so through the power of math. Roger and Dodger aren’t exactly human, though they don’t realise it. They aren’t exactly gods, either. Not entirely. Not yet.

Meet Reed, skilled in the alchemical arts like his progenitor before him. Reed created Dodger and her brother. He’s not their father. Not quite. But he has a plan: to raise the twins to the highest power, to ascend with them and claim their authority as his own.

Godhood is attainable. Pray it isn’t attained.

Author Seanan McGuire introduces readers to a world of amoral alchemy, shadowy organizations, and impossible cities in the standalone fantasy, Middlegame, out from Tor.com Publishing on May 7th. Read Part Four below, or head back to the beginning with Part One!

[Read more]

Read Seanan McGuire’s Middlegame: Part Three

Meet Roger. Skilled with words, languages come easily to him. He instinctively understands how the world works through the power of story. Meet Dodger, his twin. Numbers are her world, her obsession, her everything. All she understands, she does so through the power of math. Roger and Dodger aren’t exactly human, though they don’t realise it. They aren’t exactly gods, either. Not entirely. Not yet.

Meet Reed, skilled in the alchemical arts like his progenitor before him. Reed created Dodger and her brother. He’s not their father. Not quite. But he has a plan: to raise the twins to the highest power, to ascend with them and claim their authority as his own.

Godhood is attainable. Pray it isn’t attained.

Author Seanan McGuire introduces readers to a world of amoral alchemy, shadowy organizations, and impossible cities in the standalone fantasy, Middlegame, out from Tor.com Publishing on May 7th. Read Part Three below, or head back to the beginning with Part One!

[Read more]

Read Seanan McGuire’s Middlegame: Part Two

Meet Roger. Skilled with words, languages come easily to him. He instinctively understands how the world works through the power of story. Meet Dodger, his twin. Numbers are her world, her obsession, her everything. All she understands, she does so through the power of math. Roger and Dodger aren’t exactly human, though they don’t realise it. They aren’t exactly gods, either. Not entirely. Not yet.

Meet Reed, skilled in the alchemical arts like his progenitor before him. Reed created Dodger and her brother. He’s not their father. Not quite. But he has a plan: to raise the twins to the highest power, to ascend with them and claim their authority as his own.

Godhood is attainable. Pray it isn’t attained.

Author Seanan McGuire introduces readers to a world of amoral alchemy, shadowy organizations, and impossible cities in the standalone fantasy, Middlegame, out from Tor.com Publishing on May 7th. Read Part Two below, or head back to the beginning with Part One!

[Read more]

Read Seanan McGuire’s Middlegame: Part One

Meet Roger. Skilled with words, languages come easily to him. He instinctively understands how the world works through the power of story. Meet Dodger, his twin. Numbers are her world, her obsession, her everything. All she understands, she does so through the power of math. Roger and Dodger aren’t exactly human, though they don’t realise it. They aren’t exactly gods, either. Not entirely. Not yet.

Meet Reed, skilled in the alchemical arts like his progenitor before him. Reed created Dodger and her brother. He’s not their father. Not quite. But he has a plan: to raise the twins to the highest power, to ascend with them and claim their authority as his own.

Godhood is attainable. Pray it isn’t attained.

Author Seanan McGuire introduces readers to a world of amoral alchemy, shadowy organizations, and impossible cities in the standalone fantasy, Middlegame, out from Tor.com Publishing on May 7th. Read Part One below, and stay tuned for additional chapters soon!

[Read more]

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.

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