AUTHOR INTERVIEW: Seanan McGuire

This interview was conducted by Jude Griffin.

The name of the war is pretty genius—was that the spark for “Misfit Toys” or did it come later?

The spark was actually the idea of AI toys, toys where the Velveteen impulse was not only real, but uncontrolled and unstoppable. The name of the war itself followed pretty quickly after, and then I had the story.

In a world where AI was so feared and so tightly controlled, why weren’t the Three Laws of Robotics used in programming the dolls?

Well, partially because the Three Laws are self-contradictory and can be abused just as easily as their absence. Partially because these toys were intended to turn a profit, and needed to pack some complicated programming into a very small space, which meant that some things had to be left out.  And partially because they didn’t want the toys attacking parents.  “And through inaction. . .” could lead to teddy bears going after pediatricians when a vaccination left a child crying, that sort of thing.

I loved the strategies humans used in the Velveteen War and why they failed: did you find yourself adding to those as the story evolved? (It seems like the kind of thing that would be hard to stop thinking about.)

Oh, yes. I’m still adding to them, in my mind. I have watched the whole war unfold. I know the ending. The ending is. . .not kind.

Why does Morgan have to hide what she does rather than advocating it as a strategy to buy time and keep children alive longer?

I find it really interesting that you gender Dr. Morgan as female, because I was very careful not to assign a gender to my protagonist as the story was being written.  As for why Morgan’s actions are hidden. . .the US government does not negotiate with terrorists. No matter how beneficial it might be for the people those terrorists are holding captive.

Any projects or news you want to tell us about?

I have so many books coming out in 2014. So many! I have a non-fiction and poetry collection, Letters to the Pumpkin King, and three books under the Seanan McGuire byline, and one book as Mira Grant. I mean, really, to keep this from becoming a daunting essay, I think I’ll just say “check my website and blog for release news.”

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

It’s sort of the modern Frankenstein. Robot uprisings are always hubris writ large, and they are beautiful.

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

I adore the Madblood androids rising up against their creator in Narbonic. Madblood is such a jerk, and his robots are so sweet. It makes what eventually happens to them even worse.  Le sigh.