Brit McGinnis is an author and freelance writer based in Portland, Oregon. She works in social media consulting and as the editor in chief of Fangirls Read It First. Her coverage of film and insider views of horror culture earned her the nickname of the Princess of Dread. Brit’s next nonfiction project is a memoir called “Film School Was Too Expensive.” Her next fiction project will involve ancient gods and skydiving.
Is there a literary heroine on whom you imprinted as a child? A first love, a person you wanted to become as an adult, a heroic girl or woman you pretended to be on the playground at recess? Who was she?
I absolutely imprinted on Sorcha, the lead heroine of Daughter of the Forest by Juliet Marillier. Most of my early adolescence was spent re-reading that book! Other than that, the main heroine of my childhood was Belle from Beauty and the Beast. So many bookworm role models, so little time.
What was it Sorcha did–what qualities did she have that captured your affections and your imagination so strongly?
Sorcha was such a beautiful role model because she is both conflicted and committed. She is given a mission from the Queen of the Fairies and she leans into it. She knows what she has to do and is willing to do it. But she’s also emotionally conflicted about her mission and all the people that she comes across because of it. She is very brave and very strong. But she doesn’t see her emotions as detracting from that strength.
How does she compare to the female characters in your work? Is she their literary ancestor? Do they rebel against all she stands for? What might your creations owe her?
Sorcha’s definitely the ancestor of most of my heroines. She is defiant when it makes sense for her to be, and acknowledges her own limitations. Just like Andy (the heroine of Maskheads), she longs for the simplicity of childhood and the simplicity that comes with that. Both of these ladies are fueled by (and are also magnetic to others) because of their single-mindedness. That’s also going to show up in later works, which I can’t talk about yet.
Mika from my first book (Romancing Brimstone
) is a bit more complicated, because she is emotional in a way that Andy certainly is not. I see her as a rebellion against the idea of Belle, or perhaps an honest portrayal of the frustration that maybe would have resulted from a Beauty and the Beast
type of arrangement in real life. She grows from passive to passionate, unafraid to express her anger and doubt her reasons for running away from her old life.
Bonus round: How do you feel about the word heroine? In these posts, I am specifically looking for authors’ female influences, whether those women they looked up to were other writers or Anne of Green Gables. Does the word heroine have a purpose that isn’t served by equally well by hero?
I love the word heroine because it suggests that women can be heroic without feeling that they have to be like men to do so. When I think of heroines, I think of both Xena and Scarlett O’Hara. They can be both strong and war-like or endlessly steadfast scrappers, but they are heroic in their own unique ways. I don’t like the idea of women only being seen as heroic if they are warriors. Not that female warriors shouldn’t exist, but I think a more nuanced definition serves everyone better.
About this post: The Heroine Question is my name for a series of short interviews with female writers about their favorite characters and literary influences. Clicking the link will allow you to browse all the other interviews, with awesome people like Linda Nagata, Kay Kenyon, and Louise Marley. If you prefer something more in the way of an actual index, it’s here.
My 2015 books read list is embarrassingly short, in part because I reread quite a few things, in part because I tanked out of a lot of things. This does mean that if it’s on here, it was quite a good book. I also read a stonking pile of short fiction but was miserable at capturing the individual stories. Here’s the list of novels:
1. Hilary Davidson, The Damage Done
2. Hilary Mantel, Bring Up the Bodies
3. Melanie Tem, The Yellow Wood
4. Ian Fleming, Casino Royale
5. Barbara Tuchman, The Guns of August (reread)
6. L.R. Lam, False Hearts (advance copy)
7. Hilary Mantel, Beyond Black
8. Tana French, Faithful Place (reread)
9. Eric Larsen, Dead Wake: The Last Crossing of the Lusitania
10. Robert Wiersema, Black Feathers
11. Tana French, The Secret Place (reread)
12. Hilary Mantel, Wolf Hall (reread)
13. Hilary Mantel, Bring up the Bodies (reread)
14. S.M. Stirling, The Desert and the Blade: A Novel of the Change
15. Fran Wilde, Updraft
16. Daisy Hay, Young Romantics: The Shelleys, Byron, and Other Tangled Lives
17. Amberlough, by Lara Elena Donnelly (advance copy)
18. Minette Walters, The Shape of Snakes (reread)
19. The Last Witness, by K. J. Parker
20. The Ultra Fabulous Glitter Squadron Saves The World Again, by A.C. Wise
21. Experimental Film, by Gemma Files
22. The Flame in the Maze, by Caitlin Sweet
23. Imaginarium 4: The Best Canadian Speculative Fiction, edited by Sandra Kasturi and Jerome Stuart
“The Glass Galago”
On Wednesday the third of the Gales, “The Glass Galago,” will be launching at Tor.com. (The first two Gales are “Among the Silvering Herd” and “The Ugly Woman of Castello di Putti”.) This new story takes Gale Feliachild and Garland Parrish to the Fleet itself. It’s not the first visit for either of them, obviously, but it’s their first time together. Gale learns a little more about what it was that got Garland disgraced and kicked out of the service. I hope you guys like it.
I was offline a fair bit during the holidays: didn’t eschew Facebook or Twitter, by any means, but I definitely spent more of my waking hours away from the computer. When I was working, it was often on fiction. There’s a proposal I’m pulling together for what might be my next ecofantasy novel; its working title is Tom the Liar, largely because in my head the main character shares some traits with the Hiddleston Loki. My editors have also sent some notes back on The Nature of a Pirate, so I’m keen to buckle down to revisions. I worked on setting up a spring book tour, and should be announcing dates soon. I thought about some teaching stuff and tried mightily to finish reading David Jaher’s The Witch of Lime Street: Séance, Seduction, and Houdini in the Spirit World, but didn’t quite get that done before the new year.
The holidays themselves were low-key and pleasant. There was some sleeping in, some feasting, some wonderful time spent with friends. And now it’s snowing in Toronto, and 2016 has come, and I am looking forward to a year filled with wonders and surprises.
photo by Kelly Robson
One of my irrational peeves about pop culture is the way writer homes are sometimes depicted as vast, cool, expansive spaces, with tons of square footage and twenty-foot high ceilings with massive amounts of natural light and floor to attic bookcases on the walls. This doesn’t bother me about Castle, however, because Nathan Fillion’s character is portrayed as having come from money in the first place and being extraordinarily successful in the second, but when the fictional writer in question isn’t a New York Times bestselling born-with-a-silver-spoon personality, it irks.
Having said that, my little condo doesn’t much look like a set designer went nuts on the premises, but it does have an extraordinary number of luxuries attached to it.
The hot tub you’ve all probably heard about, and like most of these places, there’s a gym, communal barbecues, and an event room. The real perk is the location: we’re five minutes from the subway and smack in the midst of cultural treasures like the AGO, the TiFF Bell Lightbox, City Halls new and old, and all the theaters.
One of the things I probably don’t mention all that often is that my marvelous well-located building also has a library, complete with a random scattering of books, WiFi that mostly does work, and a TV and faux fireplace that–as far as I can tell–aren’t plugged into anything.
It’s big, spacious, quiet, and frequently empty, and it has a couple of workstations as well as the lounging chairs pictured here. There’s a window along one wall which lets in the light of day. It’s where I go to clear my head when I need to get away from home, cats and distractions, but can’t or don’t want to go all the way out to a coffee shop.
I’m sitting here as I write these words, sifting through projects and priorities for the coming month, with Of Montreal’s Sunlandic Twins playing via a portable Bluetooth speaker and a view of gray and rainy clouds.
I suspect and hope that 2016 is going to be an extraordinary year, filled both with wonders and opportunities. This little bit of quiet, at the stub end of the year, is all about gearing up and getting ready.
photo by Kelly Robson
‘Tis the season when we count up our blessings and our publications, and for me, the big news in 2015 was the publication of A Daughter of No Nation, the second of my Hidden Sea Tales novels and follow-up to Child of a Hidden Sea.
For anyone who is just getting into this series and the world it takes place in, Stormwrack, there are some prequel stories about Gale Feliachild and the damnably handsome Garland Parrish, set when both of them are much younger and, in the latter case, even more innocent. They are available for free on Tor.com, and are entitled:
“Among the Silvering Herd”
“The Ugly Woman of Castello Di Putti,”
and–coming soon!–“The Glass Galago.”
I did have two other stories out in 2015, and by a weird twist of fate they were both part of larger universes, places not created by me. The first was a story called “Rate of Exchange” in S.M. Stirling‘s The Change: Tales of Downfall and Rebirth. The second was my story about Miss Moneypenny, which appeared in License Expired: the Unauthorized James Bond, edited by Madeline Ashby and David Nickle. It’s called “Through Your Eyes Only.”