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Today’s Fantastic Fables guest is Seanan McGuire’s October Daye. October “Toby” Daye is half-fae, half-human, and all magnet for trouble. As a knight errant for Duke Sylvester Torquill and the newly-elevated Countess of Goldengreen, she deals with all the problems Faerie and the mortal world can present, usually while demanding another cup of coffee. Her Fetch, May Daye, shares her apartment, while Tybalt, the local King of Cats, simply shares his opinions. On everything. Toby is here to give us her take on the Katie Crackernuts fable, which is completely new to me. The first October Daye adventure is ROSEMARY AND RUE. Book five, ONE SALT SEA, will be out in September. Thanks to Seanan and the wonderful team at Penguin/DAW, three of you who comment on this post will win a copy of the book! See details below
I have always known that girly footwear was the enemy. Stiletto heels, ankle-straps, snazzy boots, and decorative rhinestones may work perfectly well for other people–people with marginally more in the way of straight-up physical coordination, for example–but they’ve never been anything but trouble for me. Give me a pair of running shoes and some athletic socks any day. They may not be fashion forward, but they’re a lot less likely to get me killed.
Knowing all this, you’d think I might have the sense not to put on a pair of enchanted dancing slippers. And if you thought that, you would be wrong.
This is not Working! I huffed, trying to take deep enough breaths to both let me keep talking and keep me from toppling over. It didn’t help that I wasn’t exactly dressed for dancing. Jeans, a cotton T-shirt, and my ever-present leather jacket are great for the sort of situations I usually run up against, where someone or something tries to kill me, and I try not to get killed. After dancing in them for the better part of four hours, they were starting to chafe.
May managed to duck out of the way before my dancing feet caught her in the head–again–and sat back on her haunches as she looked at me reproachfully. I could use the shoehorn if you’d just keep still for like, thirty seconds, she said.
If I could keep still for thirty seconds, I wouldn’t need you to use the shoehorn! The dancing slippers decided that this would be the perfect time to send me into a series of pirouettes. I was starting to feel distinctly queasy. Think of something else!
We’ve tried shoehorns, pulling really hard, and that big mud puddle in the dog park, which probably wasn’t entirely mud, said May. What do you want me to do? Drop a house on you? She perked up. Actually, that would probably work.
Anything that involves flying masonry is off the menu! The pirouettes ended. I had time for a flare of relief before the slippers started me waltzing around the parking lot. Just do something! Call the Luidaeg! Tell her I’ve got a bad case of the magic shoes!
Why did you put those things on, anyway? I mean, hello, bad idea, party of October.
I don’t know! They’d been sitting on the doorstep when I opened the front door. Something about them was so shiny and appealing that they were on my feet almost before I realized what my hands were doing. I had just enough time to realize that this meant attraction spell before the dancing started, and I stopped focusing on anything more complicated than finding a way to take off the thrice-damned shoes. I don’t even know where they came from!
A shoemaker? suggested May. She paused before amending, An evil shoemaker?
Your grasp of the obvious never fails to delight and enthrall me, said a dry voice from the shadows behind her. I twisted around to try to see the speaker, my lower body continuing to waltz without concern for the fact that I was now making myself seriously dizzy. Tybalt caught my eyes and smiled thinly. While I recognize the need to get more exercise, little fish, perhaps you could have undertaken a less rigorous program. Perhaps one that was less likely to be fatal.
Tybalt! I considered asking him what he was doing here, but decided I didn’t really need to after catching a glimpse of May’s half-guilty, half-relieved expression. She’d probably called him, or sent the cats to call him, when she went out to look for a shoehorn. I settled instead for demanding, Get me out of these crazy shoes!
While I’m flattered that you would beg me so ardently to remove articles of your clothing, I’m afraid it’s not that simple. Tybalt took five long steps forward and slid himself smoothly into my waltz, his hands catching mine as he pulled me against him. My steps didn’t even falter as the shoes altered their tempo, granting him the lead. Great. Enchanted, malicious shoes with fixed ideas about gender roles. There are several flavors of dancing slipper which could be responsible for your current predicament. Tell me, have you offended any Tylwyth Teg recently?
Not that I’m aware of.
Then, given that you don’t have eleven sisters and have not yet danced your way into a garden filled with diamond-leaved elm trees, you’re unlikely to have dusk-to-dawn slippers on. Tybalt swept us through a long turn. Pity. Those can be removed in the traditional manner.
Half the time, the traditional manner is death. The other time, it’s making out. Try again.
Have you committed any major acts of blasphemy?
No, and I know this story–The Red Shoes, right? Well, these slippers aren’t red, and you’re not chopping off my feet. Attempting will get you kicked in the head.
Tybalt clucked his tongue. I see that dancing for hours without end puts you into a charming state of mind. I do believe you have some Scottish slippers on.
I looked at him blankly.
You truly do need to read the classics, October. The tale of Katie Crackernuts and her bold rescue of her beloved prince? No? Tybalt sighed. I despair for the state of Faerie, I truly do. Regardless, here. He freed his right hand from mine and dipped it into his pocket, coming up with a strip of what looked like turkey jerky. This should stop the dancing.
Jerky stops dancing?
The flesh of an enchanted songbird will quiet the slippers. The light glinted green off Tybalt’s cat-slit eyes as we continued to dance, and he continued to hold the jerky out to me. Once that’s been done, we can determine who sent them to you.
Vegetarians just dance forever, huh?
No, he said calmly. Vegetarians just dance until they die.
I took the jerky.
Eating enchanted animals from undisclosed sources isn’t usually something I enjoy, but I was ready to stop dancing, and I was ready to track down my evil shoemaker. Footwear was my enemy. Whoever sent me the footwear?
I was ready to be theirs.
Seanan McGuire was born in Martinez, California, and raised in a wide variety of locations, most of which boasted some sort of dangerous native wildlife. Despite her almost magnetic attraction to anything venomous, she somehow managed to survive long enough to acquire a typewriter, a reasonable grasp of the English language, and the desire to combine the two. The fact that she wasn’t killed for using her typewriter at three o’clock in the morning is probably more impressive than her lack of death by spider-bite. Her upbringing left her with a love of rattlesnakes and a deep fear of weather, which explains a lot.
Often described as a vortex of the surreal, many of Seanan’s personal anecdotes end with things like “and then we got the anti-venom” or “but it’s okay, because it turned out the water wasn’t all that deep.” She has yet to be defeated in a game of “Who here was bitten by the strangest thing?,” and can be amused for hours by just about anything. “Just about anything” includes swamps, long walks, long walks in swamps, things that live in swamps, horror movies, strange noises, musical theater, reality television, comic books, finding pennies on the street, and venomous reptiles. Seanan may be the only person on the planet who admits to using Kenneth Muir’s Horror Films of the 1980s as a checklist.
Seanan is the author of the October Daye series of urban fantasies, the first seven of which have been purchased by DAW Books; the InCryptid series of urban fantasies, the first two of which have been purchased by DAW Books; and the Newsflesh trilogy, published by Orbit under the pseudonym “Mira Grant.” She’s working on several other books, just to make sure she never runs out of things to edit. Her short fiction has appeared in multiple anthologies, and she was a 2010 Universe Author for The Edge of Propinquity.
In her spare time, Seanan writes and records original music. She has three CDs currently available (see the Albums page for additional details). She is also a cartoonist, and draws an irregularly posted autobiographical web comic, “With Friends Like These…”, as well as generating a truly ridiculous number of art cards. Surprisingly enough, she finds time to take multi-hour walks, blog regularly, watch a sickening amount of television, maintain her website, and go to pretty much any movie that has the words “blood,” “night,” “terror,” or “attack” in the title. Most people believe that she doesn’t sleep.
Seanan lives in a creaky old farmhouse in Northern California, which she shares with her three cats, Lilly, Alice, and Thomas, a vast collection of plush things and horror movies, and sufficient books to officially qualify her as a fire hazard. She has strongly-held and oft-expressed beliefs about the origins of the Black Death, the X-Men, and the need for chainsaws in daily life.
Years of writing blurbs for convention program books have firmly fixed Seanan in the habit of writing all her bios in the third person, so as to sound marginally less dorky. Stress is on the “marginally.” It probably doesn’t help that she has so many hobbies.
Seanan was the winner of the 2010 John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer, and her novel Feed was named as one of Publishers Weekly’s Best Books of 2010.
Want to read more from Seanan McGuire?
This giveaway is provided by Seanan and Penguin/DAW
Three winners will each receive a copy of One Salt Sea by Seanan McGuire
Available on September 6, 2011 from Penguin/DAW
About the Book:
October “Toby” Daye is finally doing all right. She’s settling into her new role as the Countess of Goldengreen; she’s actually dating again; she’s even agreed to take on Quentin as her official squire. Life is looking up all around—and that inevitably means it’s time for things to take a turn for the worse.
Someone has kidnapped the sons of Duchess Dianda Lorden, regent of the Undersea Duchy of Saltmist. To prevent a war between land and sea, Toby must not only find the missing boys, but also prove that the Queen of the Mists was not behind their abduction. She’ll need all her tricks and the help of all her allies if she wants to make it through this in one piece.
Toby’s search will take her from the streets of San Francisco to the lands beneath the waves, and her deadline is firm: she must find the boys in three days’ time, or all of the Mists will pay the price. But someone is determined to stop her—and whoever it is isn’t playing by Oberon’s Laws…
As the battle grows more and more personal, one thing is chillingly clear. When Faerie goes to war, not everyone will walk away.
1. Leave a comment for Seanan, let us know what you think of this fable, book or series.
2. +1 entries for tweeting about this contest, blogging about it, linking via your sidebar etc…(please tell me where!).
3. Giveaway is open to U.S. only.
4. Please include your email address in your comment.
5. All Fantastic Fables winners will be announced on September 7th.
6. The winner will be picked with the help of Random.org.
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