What inspired Nan’s monsters and how did the story develop from that?
Nan’s monsters are inspired by Frank Belknap Long’s Hounds of Tindalos. I’ve tried for years to incorporate some version of them into my own mythos-inspired storyscape. I hope they’ll show up again somewhere.
This story is a beautiful mashup of genres: horror, fantasy, science fiction. Not to put a label on it, but I believe the going description these days is literary. You’ve often discussed your horror and fantasy influences—Lovecraft, Kiernan, Zelazny, Bear, Gaiman, Hambly, etc.—but can you name some favorite science fiction writers and stories (particularly about time travel)?
C.J. Cherryh has been a huge influence on me over the years, and William Gibson was pretty formative, too. Kiernan is as much an SFnal influence as anything else, particularly with regards to time. Time travel as a concept is much more fantastic to me than scientific, and certainly holds a great potential for horror. As a reader I never imprinted on time travel stories much (except for Morlocks—I always loved Morlocks). Movies are more responsible for making that a part of my mental landscape: Donnie Darko, The Butterfly Effect, Looper, Terminator, Interstellar, 12 Monkeys, etc. Some I love, others less so, but they’ve definitely had an impact.
Speaking of influences, I love the concept of “fossil light,” which is also referenced in the story’s title. We often conflate the stars with the future and optimism, but those points of light are in our distant past and virtually unreachable—an evocative theme for this story. Are you into astronomy?
I’m not, especially, but Lovecraftiana comes with a fair amount of star-watching. One day they’ll be right.
Like you, many authors have full-time (or more than full-time) day jobs, which can slow down our writing. Do you have a writing process or routine that helps you make the words happen when life is busy?
I try to set aside at least one day a week just for writing, errand demons permitting. Otherwise, it’s a matter of carving out little chunks of time whenever and wherever possible. It’s a frustrating process, but rent and health insurance are cruel masters.
You’ve been working on your next novel, The Poison Court. Would you tell us more about it? When can we expect to see it, and what other recent work is out now or coming soon?
The Poison Court is a return to the world of the Necromancer Chronicles, and the city of Erisin. It stars Savedra Severos (originally introduced in The Bone Palace) and her friends and relations, navigating court intrigue and getting into trouble. If the Necromancer books were James Bond with necromancy, this might be more like Smiley’s People with sorcery. I’m not sure when it will be released, but I hope to have a better idea by the end of summer. I’m trying to use the time between novels to finish some shorter projects right now.
It’s also hard to find time to read, but it’s so important for writers! Do you have any short story or book recommendations, or what are you reading now—for fun or research?
I’ve been doing a fair amount of reading for the Hugos lately, and haven’t finished yet. Barbara Hambly’s Darkness on His Bones is sitting on my desk enticing me, but mostly I’ve crawled into a pit of Star Wars supplements for the Edge of the Empire campaign my gaming group just started. I’ve been thinking a lot about Twi’leks recently.
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