Well, first of all, I wouldn’t describe them as “evil hippies” (although Jamie might). The murderers are college kids dabbling in necromancy, and one of them happens to work at the Tree of Life. Charlene Pruitt is not a nice person, but I wouldn’t call her evil, and she isn’t a hippie. She’s the proprietor of her world’s equivalent of a New Age store and also a con artist and a smuggler and a bunch of other things. The inspiration for Charlene was probably really fake mediums like the Fox sisters and the people that Harry Houdini and James Randi debunk. Although of course, with Charlene, she’s a fraud playing around the edges of something that is absolutely real and extremely dangerous—as the plot of the story demonstrates.
You are best known as a writer of fantasy and horror. How were you inspired to write this type of genre-crossing story? Are you a reader of crime fiction?
I am a reader of detective fiction, yes. As best I can remember, I thought at some point, “Wouldn’t it be cool to write a Lovecraftian police procedural?” and it was all downhill from there.
One of your characters has tattoos; the other a reconstructed face, dyed hair and painted nails. To what extent do the changes to their appearance symbolize their reaction to their world (which seems to reflect our own)?
Mick’s gender performance is all about genderfuck, about screwing with the established categories of gender. He’s also what our world would probably call a Goth. So certainly his dyed hair and painted nails are about rebelling against his society—in ways that are perfectly recognizable to anyone in our world. (The fact that his face had to be rebuilt is a different part of his backstory, and it’s one I hope to write a story about soon.) Jamie’s tattoos are more about his own self-image, about making himself feel less ugly, although there of course his self-image is shaped by his society, so again, yes.
Your characters in “Blue Lace Agate” both seem to have a history and a future. Have you written other stories with these characters? In this fantasy world? Do you intend to?
Yes, and yes. There are two other finished stories with Mick and Jamie, “A Night in Electric Squidland” and “Impostors,” both of which are in my short story collection, Somewhere Beneath Those Waves, which came out from Prime in November. And I have a bunch of ideas for more stories about them.
So what else is coming down the pipeline?
My next novel will be The Goblin Emperor, which will come out from Tor under a pen name, Katherine Addison. I have a lot of short stories I want to write—about Mick and Jamie, about Kyle Murchison Booth (the protagonist of my collection, The Bone Key), about other characters and worlds.
Anything else you’d like us to know?
I had three books out in 2011: The Tempering of Men (written with Elizabeth Bear), which is the sequel to A Companion to Wolves; Somewhere Beneath Those Waves, a short story collection; and a second edition of The Bone Key, with a new introduction, new story notes, and a beautiful new cover. My only short story publication was “The Devil in Gaylord’s Creek” (Fantasy 50), but I hope to do better in 2012!
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