Lilith Saintcrow is the author ofThe Damnation Affair,a novel that mixes magic and guns, Old West and fantasy.
made you want to become a writer?
wasn’t really any moment of “wanting to become.” I’ve always written, ever
since I was first dissatisfied with an ending in one of my Little Golden Books
and determined to fix it myself. Not writing is not an option. It’s simply what
I do. I’m just so happy that I can make
a living from it, really.
did you start writing?
Lilith Saintcrow: Let’s
see…I was seven? Around then. I started writing for publication in the early
2000s, though. 2004-5. It was something I could hopefully turn into some income
while I was at home with two toddlers
and an indifferent husband. I’ve never looked back, on either account.
Lilith Saintcrow: Actually,
it’s set in the Bannon & Clare universe, which burst into flower not too
long ago when I was reading a book about the Victorian underworld and slang
terms. There was also a particular movie scene involving Robert Downey Jr., I
have to admit. (I have this thing,
both for Victoriana and for Downey.)
playing in the Bannon & Clare world—alt-historical Victorian era London—I
wondered about America during that time, and as my writing partner was involved
in a story about a mechanical corset and gold claims, all of a sudden I had
this idea for a schoolmistress coming into a sort of Deadwood-esque town and things getting very complicated. I settled
down to write her arrival and the consequent brawl that erupted in the streets
of this very rough-edged town, and from there it was just seeing what the story
did. It just fell out of my head.
was it like mixing magic and guns? Old West and fantasy?
Lilith Saintcrow: It
was terrific. I like Westerns, and I
love fantasy and magic. It was so much fun! I’d read Jane Tompkins’s West of Everything and a fair amount of
L’Amour and Zane Grey, and so I just shoved every Western trope I could into
the book and shook them together, and I had a marvelous time. I think this book
has probably been the most zany fun to write, out of all of them. (Yet.)
not-so-fun part was dealing with the prejudices, both overt and unspoken, that
would be normal in that time period. You can’t write historical fiction, even
alternate historical fiction, and not deal with very real bigotry, prejudice,
and nastiness. Of course there are modern prejudices, but sadly and often a
writer isn’t called to account for them the same way they might be called to
account for a character with the bigotry of another historical period. There’s
a certain point where one just has to throw any uneasiness about what might get
you into trouble out the window, and decide to be faithful to the characters
and the time—even if you deplore their viewpoints, you still have to write them
as best you can. The readers deserve that honesty.
zombies of all the supernatural creatures you could have picked or
Lilith Saintcrow: I’d
just never seen a Western story with zombies before. (I’m sure they’re out
there, I just haven’t seen them.) I was looking for a really odd juxtaposition,
and anyone who knows me knows I’m fascinated by the zombie apocalypse. So it
was really just a delightful mishmash of an accident.
was your favorite character to write and why?
Lilith Saintcrow: In
Damnation? Probably Li Ang, the
Chinois girl. She doesn’t say much, but she understands much more than she lets
on, and she’s very determined to keep herself and her baby safe. She has an
agency and a practicality I just love. Right next to her was Jack Gabriel, the
sheriff. He’s just so maddeningly calm and competent.
think I fell a little in love with him. But don’t tell my other characters.