AUTHOR INTERVIEW: Seanan McGuire

With the theme of “weird west,” could you say that “Stingers and Strangers” started off in this vein of science fiction? What image or line would you say started to fully form this story in your mind?

The story definitely started off in that vein, because it was written for an anthology of weird west stories.  It wouldn’t have worked very well if it had been in any other vein.  I don’t really work with single images or lines.  I knew what I wanted going in.

On your website, you mentioned being influenced in writing by everything from Bradbury and Baum to Kipling and King. If you had to choose something that might have influenced “Stingers and Strangers,” what would it be and why?

Giant Asian hornets.  They’re like Apraxis wasps, only real.

You’ve done a great deal in working with the Apraxis Wasp, including a bibliographical entry on your website. Outside of “Stingers and Strangers,” where else might we find them?

The Apraxis wasps are a part of my InCryptid universe, as is this story.  They haven’t shown up in the books yet.  They will, though.  They will.

In “Stingers and Strangers,” which character did you find to be the most difficult to write? Which one(s) drew from those you might have known in real life?

I don’t base my characters on people I know in real life unless they’ve given me permission.  None of these characters were hard to write.

What is the appeal of “weird west” fiction? Why do writers—or you yourself—write about it? What do you think readers like about it?

I write about it because people ask me to?  I don’t know.  I like everything.  The Wild West is post-colonial America’s “mythic age,” for all of its problems and sexual and racial inequalities, and I think there’s a draw that’s very similar to the draw toward steampunk.

What are some of your favorite examples of weird westerns (in any media), and what makes them your favorites?

I like Firefly.  I like Wild Wild West (TV show and movie, yes, I actually enjoy the movie).  I liked it when Barry Ween did a western.  They’re my favorites because I like them.

What can we expect to see from you in the future?

Lots of books.  A bunch of short stories.  Some interviews where I betray how baffled I usually am by the vicissitudes of the human race.