In this week’s Author Spotlight, we ask author Seanan McGuire to tell us a bit about her story for Fantasy, “Crystal Halloway and the Forgotten Passage.”
You know, I don’t know? But I’ve read so many things in that sub-genre, the “kid finds a magical world and is swept away into wild adventure” sort of thing. Alice in Wonderland, The Phantom Tollbooth, Peter and Wendy, all the classics, and the more modern pieces, like Abadazad and Cat Valente’s The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making. It’s this whole thriving slice of literature, and a lot of it really only seems aimed at a specific age. Everyone I know read those stories, and then one day, they just stopped.
I know so many people who had a place that they just knew they could get to if they found the right door. (Mine was a Narnia-Africa cross waiting just behind the back door of our house. Which didn’t have a key.) Did you have such a place, and if so, would you be willing to describe it?
When I was a kid, we always lived near creeks. Everything else changed, but there were always creeks. I thought that if you could find the right combination of steps, if you could approach the water just so, you’d be able to find a path you’d never seen before, and it would take you to the Autumn Country, where it was always October, and it was always Halloween, and no one ever laughed at your clothes, and since the candy was free, no one was ever hungry. Part of me still believes that the right corn maze can get you there, which is part of why I love my corn mazes so dearly.
I love the idea of the Truth Fairy. What inspired her?
So the “kids + magical world = adventure” equation was very, very heavily used during the 1980s. Almost every cartoon had it, because it was a way to get the kids into the story. My favorite was My Little Pony and Friends, which had Megan, a blonde farm girl kidnapped by talking horses. And the stakes were real in these cartoons. If a villain got someone, they stayed got. The Truth Fairy, to me, feels like a villain from one of those cartoons. It’s just that the cartoon she appeared in ceased to exist after she caught all the principle characters.
I think this story draws on some of the same material Kij Johnson’s Ponies drew upon. People, especially women, seem to feel like there’s a real sense of loss of self in becoming an adult, and a lot of YA fiction speaks to that. What do you think? Was that a motivation in writing “Crystal Halloway and the Forgotten Passage”?
I think that for a girl, you do have a certain loss of who you were implicit in modern adulthood. There’s a wonderful song by a band called Butterfly Jones, called “The Systematic Dumbing Down of Terry Constance Jones,” about a girl who realizes as she gets older that none of her dreams matter as much to the world around her as the way she looks. There’s a bit in the middle—”Well, I played my share of baseball, and I beat the boys at pool. / I was smart and silly way before I found out about being cool.” And I think that’s what we lose. We take it away from each other. It’s something I think about a lot.
We see very few stories at Fantasy that have the main character’s name in the title. It definitely gives the piece a classic adventure quality. Can you tell me about how you titled this piece?
I dreamed the story, actually. The whole thing … including the twenty or so stories that came before it. In my head, this was the last of a huge series of exciting adventures and remarkable deeds on the part of this one girl. And this is how it all ended for her. This is where she forgot her own back catalog. The story went through about eight titles, but they all began with “Crystal Halloway.”
Is there anything else you’d like to share with us about Crystal Halloway, or any forthcoming projects?
I am so excited to be appearing in Fantasy Magazine! See, I just wanted to share that. Let’s see. I have a new book coming up in March 2012, called Discount Armageddon, and it’s the start of a whole new urban fantasy series about family and cryptozoology, and monster hunting, and loyalty, and talking mice. The talking mice are key. My website stays pretty up-to-date, so that can be used to find out where I’m going to be and what I’m publishing. Right now, I’m writing books about fairies, cryptids, genetically engineered parasites, and mad science. It’s a pretty good life.