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Interview: Sarah Monette

Sarah Monette and Katherine Addison are the same person. She has published more than fifty short stories, seven solo novels, and four collaborations with her friend Elizabeth Bear. Her most recent novel is The Witness for the Dead (Tor Books, 2021). The Goblin Emperor (Tor, 2014) won the 2015 Locus Award for Best Fantasy Novel and was a finalist for the Hugo, the Nebula, and the World Fantasy Award. The Angel of the Crows (Tor, 2020) was also a finalist for the Locus Award. She lives with spouse, cats, and books, somewhere near Madison, Wisconsin. “The Haunting of Dr. Claudius Winterson” is her sixth appearance in Uncanny, an ominous mystery set in the world of her Booth series.

 

Uncanny Magazine: “The Haunting of Dr. Claudius Winterson” is a quietly ominous story with elements of mystery and fantasy/horror. What was your starting point or inspiration?

Sarah Monette: I woke up in the middle of the night one night, from a dream I couldn’t remember, with the phrase “children with no faces” stuck in my head. And I was nightmare-levels of scared. So I figured there had to be a Booth story in there somewhere.

Uncanny Magazine: “The Haunting of Dr. Claudius Winterson” is one of several that you’ve written in the Booth series. What is your favorite thing about writing stories in this world? What is the most challenging thing?

Sarah Monette: I love ghost stories and I love writing them. The most challenging thing is finding ways to get Booth involved in a ghost story—without repeating earlier stories.

Uncanny Magazine: If you were a character in this story, who would you be and why?

Sarah Monette: Booth is a very autobiographical character. Both my social discomforts and my ethical worries show up in his stories.

Uncanny Magazine: I love the ghost children—colorless like newspaper clippings, following Claudius Winterson ever closer as the story progresses. Do you have a favorite ghost story?

Sarah Monette: My favorite ghost story is M. R. James’s “‘Oh, Whistle and I’ll Come to You, My Lad’,” which also involves, now that I think about it, a follower who comes closer and closer as the story progresses.

Uncanny Magazine: There’s a lovely parallel between Dr. Winterson insisting that there was nothing he could have done for the children and, at the end of the story, Booth making a similar assertion about Dr. Winterson’s death. Did you have that ending in mind from the start, or did you discover it as you were writing?

Sarah Monette: That was a discovery. My first drafts are generally discovery drafts.

Uncanny Magazine: What are you working on next?

Sarah Monette: The Grief of Stones, which is a sequel to The Witness for the Dead, is coming out in June. I’m currently working on The Tomb of Dragons, which is a sequel to The Grief of Stones. I didn’t intend to write a trilogy when I started The Witness for the Dead, but that’s what it’s turned out to be.

Uncanny Magazine: Thank you for sharing your thoughts with us!

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Caroline M. Yoachim

Caroline M. Yoachim is a two-time Hugo and five-time Nebula Award finalist. Her short stories have been translated into several languages and reprinted in multiple best-of anthologies, including three times in Best American Science Fiction and Fantasy. Yoachim’s short story collection Seven Wonders of a Once and Future World & Other Stories and the print chapbook of her novelette The Archronology of Love are available from Fairwood Press. For more, check out her website at carolineyoachim.com.

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