Megan Miller ’17 / Emertainment Monthly Staff Writer
An urban fantasy panel, ”When Myth and Magic Meet Main Street,” was moderated by Anton Strout (Incarnate). The authors on the panel were Jim Butcher (Skin Game), Seanan McGuire (Sparrow Hill Road), Thomas Sniegoski (The Remy Chandler Series), Amber Benson (Calliope Reaper-Jones Series), Richard Kadrey (The Getaway God), and Greg van Eekhout (California Bones).
The first question Strout asked the panelists was what city they had chosen for their urban fantasy novels and why, which produced an array of interesting and amusing answers. Butcher said he had originally wanted to set his novels in Kansas City, Missouri, but his writing teacher had told him no. McGuire answered that she chose San Francisco because she hated the city at the time, due to its traffic and her four-hour commute, and said that she was hoping that using a character who was in love with San Francisco as a city would give her Stockholm Syndrome for the place (unfortunately, it failed). Sniegowski lived in Lynn, Massachusetts, while growing up, and decided that he couldn’t set a story in Lynn. Instead, he chose Boston, a twenty-five minute drive. Bensen chose Los Angeles, but the beautiful side of Los Angeles that people don’t always think about; Kadrey, on the other hand, also chose Los Angeles, but the side of Los Angeles that people always think about—the side that makes LA the “most honest city in America.” Van Eekhout set his novels in Los Angeles as well, because he needed the La Brea Tar Pits to allow dinosaurs to come to life.
They each discussed why urban fantasy, and several of their answers seemed to revolve around the fact that the world is too mundane as it is. They also discussed their influences as they grew up, citing Ray Bradbury, Stephen King, and a large collection of eclectic books. When asked why they love destroying the real world, Butcher wondered who hasn’t looked at their neighborhood, or a building that they know of, and thought about how much they would love to destroy it. McGuire said that once in a story she’d actually destroyed San Diego Comic Con in 2014, and van Eekhout remembered once destroying a Costco.
They talked about different aspects of their writing: their favorite creatures they’ve created, a scene that made them cackle with glee as they wrote it, and how much all of the people in their worlds knows, considering that it is fantasy set in the real world.
When opened up to the audience, there were a few good questions, including a question regarding how McGuire gets into her character’s voice, to which McGuire answered that she will go to a public space and deal with large crowds, which makes her angry enough to write the main character. The most notable question they were asked, however, was what advice they had for aspiring writers. The resounding answer was to actually write, and to finish what you start writing. They also advised not to compare yourself and your own progress to other writers. However, there was a small amount of dissent among the panelists regarding whether or not scotch is your friend.