Seanan McGuire (seanan_mcguire) wrote,
Seanan McGuire

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The questions I can't answer and promises I can't keep.

I've had a few people emailing me recently, asking questions I can't answer, over and over again. Not "what is the solution to the Riemann Hypothesis?", which is a question I can't answer because I'm not a math genius. Questions like "How long has Tybalt been in love with Toby? Why isn't he courting her?" and "Who are Quentin's parents?" Questions that relate to my books, but are not about things that have yet happened in my books, or about the background of the world. I can explain Cait Sidhe biology until the cows come home. I cannot, at this time, tell you who Amandine's mother is.

And this is a problem for me.

I like answering mail. I'm incredibly slow about it, because I have a thousand other things I need to be doing at the same time, and a message that just says "thanks for writing books" but isn't from a teenager or asking questions may just be smiled at and tucked into my files. At the same time, these questions make me dread opening my inbox.

How do I say "no" without coming off as an arrogant bitch? How do I explain that these are questions I can't answer, because it isn't fair to all the readers who didn't ask me? And most of all, how do I explain that I can't answer because I don't want to lie to you?

Things change. As far as I'm concerned, if something isn't in a book that you can buy on the shelf, it isn't set in stone. I mean that literally: while there have been very, very few last-minute changes, there have been at least two instances where the ARC came out, I did my ceremonial "I will now read the ARC to see how it feels as a book," and have then called my publisher in tears, begging that something be fixed. Even the ARCs can change. If you had asked me who the important characters in the Toby series were going to be before the first book came out, my list would not have included Quentin, Raj, April, Walther, Etienne, or Danny. Danny actually didn't exist until after Rosemary and Rue had been purchased by DAW.

If I say "oh, don't worry, X is happening in book Y," there's a good chance I'm wrong. The original villain of One Salt Sea isn't in the book. At all. The original first chapter of An Artificial Night didn't even make it to my publisher. And those are just the examples I can give that don't come with associated spoilers.

It's really difficult. I have a lot of trouble navigating these questions, and no matter what I say, I wind up feeling like I'm being mean. I'm not, really. I just don't want to spoil any surprises, and I definitely don't want to tell any accidental lies. So please, don't ask those questions. I can't answer them, and it makes me want to cry when they just keep coming.

Bah. Writing is hard.
Tags: contemplation, cranky blonde is cranky, shameless plea
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