Writing heroes: Seanan McGuire

As I write this, I’m only a couple of days away from having finished Pocket Apocalypse, Seanan McGuire’s latest book, published earlier this week. So I may be feeling slightly emotional. If you’ve been reading for a while, you probably already know that I’m a huge fan of Seanan McGuire’s work.

I discovered McGuire when the first book of her October Daye series (Rosemary and Rue) appeared on Writing Excuses as the book of the week. I was still making my way back to really reading speculative fiction and decided to give her a try. I’d signed up for Audible and I was struggling with coming up with books I really wanted to buy with my credits, mostly because I just didn’t know the market at the time. Looking back at my Audible purchases of the time, Cherie Priest and Terry Pratchett were the only authors I’d consistently bought before McGuire. I got Rosemary and Rue in July 2012 and within a month I had bought every single thing McGuire had ever published that was available to me. I was completely hooked. And then I discovered Mira Grant, McGuire’s alter ego, and I became obsessed. I don’t even want to think about all of the short story anthologies I’ve bought simply because McGuire had short stories in them.

So why Seanan McGuire?

Seanan McGuire writes women who are believable, even when her main character is male. They’re me or the people I’ve known. They’re funny in a way that is also deeply disturbing and each of them is distinct in her own ways. She has a talent for creating worlds out of myths that are hundreds or thousands of years old and making them fresh. Norse Valkyries as cheerleaders, mermaids in science fiction, Mermaids as a carnival attraction, Snow White as a G-Man. And yet the stories are always about so much more than the superficial gimmick. Seanan McGuire is an author who has the ladyballs to state unequivocally that her characters will not get raped. She knows that there are so many more horrific things that can happen to a character and she’s not afraid to make her characters and by extension her readers suffer.

McGuire is also freakishly productive. Here’s a list of everything she published in 2014. She has like four or five ongoing series AND a pen name for medically inclined horror/science fiction (Mira Grant). Even voracious readers like me have a hard time keeping up with reading everything she writes. And it’s all very different in feel and tone. If you don’t like something she writes, odds are that you’ll like something else. So far I’ve loved everything but I have a friend who loves October Daye but can’t stand InCryptid, another loves Mira Grant but is kind of ambivalent on the urban fantasy stuff.


And if all that isn’t enough, Seanan McGuire is an author who is capable of creating emotional torment out of things many others would use as punch lines. Mild spoilers ahead for her latest, Pocket Apocalypse. In her InCryptid series, all the main characters and their family members come with a colony of sentient mice called Aeslin Mice. They’re fervently religious and while the individual mice are essentially just mice the colony retains accurate memories of everything that happens as holy writ. They’re funny, deceptively cute and mostly they are interchangeable. Then in the final book one of them gets killed. It’s essentially just a mouse, it doesn’t have a name or even much of a description beyond being a mouse. And despite this I am even now mourning the loss. The loss of that single, unnamed mouse looms bigger in my mind than the thousands of fridged women I’ve read about over the years. I don’t understand how she made it happen but some day I will. And my readers will rue the day. In a good way.

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