INTERVIEW: Seanan McGuire, Author of “Emeralds to Emeralds, Dust to Dust”

Seanan McGuire is the bestselling author of two ongoing urban fantasy series, both published by DAW Books (the October Daye adventures and InCryptid). She was the winner of the 2010 John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer. She also writes medical science fiction under the name “Mira Grant.” Between her two identities, she is a five-time finalist for the Hugo Award, and has been nominated for the Shirley Jackson and Philip K. Dick Awards. Seanan is the only woman ever to appear on the Hugo ballot four times in a single year. She is a founding member of the Hugo award-winning SFSqueecast, an ongoing adventure in mild positivity. Seanan likes horror movies, abnormally large blue cats, and cookies. You can find her on Twitter at @seananmcguire, and on the web at www.seananmcguire.com. Seanan thinks sleep is for other people, and is still waiting for her twister.

Tell us a bit about your story.  What’s it about?

My story is a murder mystery in an urban fantasy Oz.  Dorothy Gale is still living in the City of Emeralds, although she’s no longer a favorite of Princess Ozma, and is trying to keep conflicts between the native Ozites and the “crossovers,” people like her who came from our world, to a minimum.  It isn’t always easy, especially when the Princess insists on making things worse.

What was the genesis of the story–what was the inspiration for it, or what prompted you to write it?

I love Oz.  Dorothy has always been one of my personal heroines.  I wanted to follow her a bit more into the modern day–I’ve grown up, and my inner Dot has grown up with me, so I just channeled that interpretation of the character.

Was this story a particularly challenging one to write? If so, how?

It was so much fun!  I want to do a whole trilogy around this interpretation of the Oz setting, because I just enjoyed myself that much.  It wasn’t as challenging as it might have been, because I was honestly just having a good time.

Most authors say all their stories are personal.  If that’s true for you, in what way was this story personal to you?

The idea of Dorothy growing up, and getting everything she always said she wanted–she’s still in Oz, she has magic and friends and adventures–but still being conflicted and lonely and scared, that really spoke to me.  I spend a lot of time questioning myself.  Dorothy doesn’t, as much, but the setting is designed around those questions.

What kind of research did you have to do for the story?

I had to re-read The Wonderful Wizard of Oz to make sure I was drawing primarily from the first book.  That was a treat!

What is the appeal of Oz? Why do you think readers/viewers love it so much?

Oz is a very “modern world” fairy country.  It isn’t built on ancient legends or traditions, save in the things that L. Frank Baum couldn’t resist pulling in (like Santa Claus), and that makes it very familiar, while also keeping it very hopeful.  It offers the potential for a world where everything will work out, where the witches are easily identified, and where lunches literally grow on trees.  Oz is the fairy country of our dreams.

What are some of your favorite Oz memories (whether from the books or the various movies, or other “reimaginings”), and what makes them your favorites?

My little sister was a huge Oz fan as a child, and I was able to take her to see Wicked for her twenty-first birthday.  When the Monkeys started to swarm, she started to cry.  It was just an amazing moment for the two of us as sisters, and it was a great example of Oz bringing people together.  I love it so.

What do you think about the new Oz movie coming out in March, Oz: The Great and Powerful? Excited? Dubious? Some combination of both?

I am in a “wait and see” mode.  I think it looks gorgeous, and it’s nice to spend a little time with the Wizard.  I do really hope that we’ll get a good, modern Dorothy story sometime soon, but I can be patient.  I am a patient girl.  Sometimes.