THE END IS NOW Author Interview: Seanan McGuire

This interview was conducted by Zoe Kaplan.

How did “Fruiting Bodies” begin? What aspect of the story was the first to come to you?

It was really an organic outgrowth of “Spores,” my story in the first volume, although I tried to make it stand up reasonably well on its own.  It began with the image of trying to keep dry and safe in a world where water had become the enemy.  Any moisture could lead to death, and we are creatures of mostly water.  That’s terrifying.

I noticed that Genetically Modified Organisms are the cause of your apocalypse. Can you explain where that comes from?

Amusingly?  Twitter.  I was trying to decide between causes of the world’s end, and I took a vote on Twitter.  Genetically modified fungus won the poll, and that had me off to the races.  I am not always complicated.

In describing the fungus, you use the word “Softness” a lot. It’s an interesting word, because it has comforting connotations, but at the same time is very visceral and disturbing in context. What about this word jumped out at you?

I love swamps and old growth forests.  They’re some of my happiest places.  And I have had the experience of setting my hand down on a fallen tree, thinking that it’s safe and solid, and plunging through into the rot beneath.  It’s a terrifying moment, and it’s all about things going soft when they were never meant to be.

In the story, light is one of the lines of defense against the ‘evil’ of the fungus, which is both sound science and rather metaphorical. What motivated your inclusion of light as a power for safer, for ‘good’?

Yeah, it was all about the science for me.  The symbolism was sort of accidental.  Surprise!

One of the major themes in your story is helplessness, the idea that no matter how hard you try, and no matter what approach you take, you can’t protect anyone. What led you to this theme?