Mira Grant is Seanan McGuire’s pseudonym. Mira Grant’s first book is the zombie horror/science fiction novel Feed, the premiere book in the Newsflesh Trilogy.
Alex: Who is Mira Grant?
Mira: Mira Grant is the thing under your bed. Born and raised in the spider-infested wilds of Northern California, she has devoted her life to warning people about the impending threat of the zombie apocalypse. Since most people don’t want to listen to her warnings, she’s taken to carrying lots of weapons, because she’ll need a way to cut through the undead hordes when her prophesies finally came to pass. They laughed at her in the academy, but she doesn’t really mind, because she knows the last laugh will be hers.
Also, she’s an author.
Alex: What does Mira Grant do that Seanan McGuire wouldn’t?
Mira: Write political horror thrillers. Walk into the cornfield at midnight with grim determination. (Seanan would also go into the cornfield at midnight, but there’d be more “frolicking gleefully” than “stalking grimly.”) Compile a list of 200+ warnings about the dangers of Mira Grant.
Alex: What does Mira Grant like to do for fun?
Mira: If she told you, she’d have to kill you. Sorry. It’s a matter of national security.
Alex: Do you feel like a different person, or perhaps think of yourself differently when writing as Mira Grant?
Mira: Not really. I tend to present myself day-to-day as a happy Halloweentown Disney Princess, so Mira Grant is just sort of me through a much darker mirror. She’s definitely a caricature, but when I’m working, I’m a whole bunch of different people. Mira is just one more character.
Alex: When did you know you wanted to write a zombie horror series?
Mira: About halfway through Feed. Before that, I thought I was just writing a zombie horror novel. Surprise! But I knew I wanted to do a zombie novel when I realized that all the books I was seeing had one thing in common: the apocalypse came, and we lost. I wanted to go in the other direction.
Alex: Have you always been a fan of zombie stories?
Mira: Oh, yeah. As long as I can remember. And since they did a lot of zombie stories on early Doctor Who, “as long as I can remember” means “basically since the age of three.” I just love their little shambling terror!
Alex: Do you pray or perhaps sacrifice small animals to an effigy of George Romero?
Mira: George Romero, no. Stephen King, on the other hand…
Alex: Did you at all plan to have your zombie novel published in a time when it seems like there’s a new story, film or piece of work involving zombies being published every week?
Mira: No, and I was a little…not annoyed, exactly, but fussed to realize that was the case. Feed took about four years to research and write, and when I started, the zombie renaissance was still a little ways away. I’m hoping this will just mean there’s a larger audience, because people love their zombies.
Alex: With the “glut” of zombie material currently being made, do you feel the full effect of Feed may be diluted somewhat?
Mira: Not really—not if people can get their hands on it. I read a lot of zombie fiction, so I’m pretty familiar with what’s out there right now, and I believe I can honestly say that Feed isn’t like anything else that’s currently on the market.
Alex: Where did the idea for Feed come from?
Mira: All the zombie fiction for a long time had the apocalypse coming to a world that was just totally unprepared—and see, that isn’t realistic, because if the zombies came tomorrow, and acted like the zombies in the movies, we’d know what to do. Also, the Internet changes things. Assuming the network stays up for any real amount of time, we’ll be able to share information, to react, and to fight back. That was the beginning. Everything else sort of came from there.
Alex: You have some incredibly strong and developed characters with Georgia, Shaun and Buffy. Where did they come from? Are they based on real people in any way?
Mira: They just…came. Seriously. I thought “Wow, here’s the story,” and it was like George just marched into my head and started dictating. I got to know Shaun and Buffy as the story went on, through the lens of her experiences with them. It was awesome, and daunting.
Alex: There’s a lot of politics, journalism, science and technology playing important parts in Feed. How much of this did you know or have experience with, and how much of it was hardcore research?
Mira: I did so much research for this book. Holy cats, the research. I had to learn more than I ever thought I’d need to know about viral engineering, modern political process, wireless technology…the list is epic. I had some really good subject matter experts, which is a good thing, because otherwise, my head might have exploded.
Alex: The cover is pretty eye-catching. Did you have any involvement in that?
Mira: I did not. But isn’t it pretty?
Alex: What separates Feed and the Newsflesh Trilogy from every other zombie story out there?
Mira: The Newsflesh Trilogy is about what comes after the dead. It’s about the way societies adapt to just about anything, including the constant threat of the zombie uprising. And I think it’s a much more chilling approach, in some ways, because in my world, the zombies aren’t the only thing you have to worry about.
Alex: If Feed got made into a movie, do you have any ideal actors you’d like to see play Georgia, Shaun and Buffy?
Mira: First off, I’d want James Gunn to direct. Just putting that out there. If the movie was made in the next few years, I’d want Allison Scagliotti for George (Warehouse 13), Jason Dohring for Shaun (Veronica Mars), and possibly Bryce Dallas Howard for Buffy. The characters are supposed to be pretty young, so my casting choices will naturally change as time passes.
Alex: Did you always know where Feed was going and how it would end? Or was it more of a rough outline and you let the characters take you along for the ride?
Mira: I both did and didn’t. Some of the later events in the book were really a surprise to me, and I think were only possible because I’d already realized that this was going to be a trilogy, rather than a stand-alone book.
Alex: What can readers expect from Deadline?
Mira: Big changes, big shocks, and a lot of digging into the underside of the post-Rising world. Also, things explode. I like it when things explode. It’s…soothing.
Alex: And what about Blackout?
Mira: Blackout will change everything.
Alex: What will Mira Grant be working on after the Newsflesh Trilogy?
Mira: I don’t know yet. These are pretty hefty books, and I’ve barely started book three, so I’m sort of stuck in this paradigm right now. I’m toying with the idea of a trilogy about parasitic infection, but I guess we’ll just have to wait and see what happens.
Alex: What’s available for fans at www.miragrant.com? And what will be added in the future?
Mira: Right now, you’ve got some really kick-ass icons and wallpapers, a list of reasons to beware of Mira Grant, and the Horror Movie Survival FAQ. We’ll be adding more graphics, more tips on getting through a horror movie alive, and some links to other handy zombie survival resources.
Alex: Is Mira Grant more like Georgia – reporting accurately with crucial details from a distance; or like Shaun – throwing herself into the thick of it, taking chances for the thrill? Or is she neither: someone who likes to hide in her home protected from the zombies?
Mira: Definitely more like Shaun. Luckily, the zombie virus is too afraid of Mira Grant to infect her.
Alex: Other than the Newsflesh Trilogy, what is your all time favorite zombie book and favorite zombie movie?
Mira: My favorite zombie movie is James Gunn’s Slither. No contest. I love it like fire. Zombie book is a little harder. So…
FAVORITE ZOMBIE ANTHOLOGY: The Living Dead, edited by John Joseph Adams
FAVORITE SERIOUS ZOMBIE BOOK: World War Z, Max Brooks
FAVORITE SERIOUS YA ZOMBIE BOOK: Soulless, Christopher Golden
FAVORITE FUNNY ZOMBIE BOOK: Breathers, S.G. Browne
FAVORITE FUNNY YA ZOMBIE BOOK: You Are So Undead To Me, Stacy Jay
FAVORITE INSANE ZOMBIE BOOK: Ex-Heroes, Peter Clines
Hope that’s a good enough list!