It’s an exciting time to be urban fantasy / cyberpunk writer Megan Mackie (and a dangerous time to be a bookcase). Over the next few months, eSpec Books will be rereleasing three of her Lucky Devil novels, with a new one on the way, as well as reprinting the first book in the Saint Code spin off series, The Lost, which will also be getting a new installment as well. But first Mackie and eSpec have Death And The Crone (paperback, Kindle), another spin-off of the Lucky Devil series that has a bit of a romantic feel. In the following email interview, Mackie explains how these books all connect and what inspired this new side novel.
For those unfamiliar with your Lucky Devil books, what are they about, and when and where do they take place?
The Lucky Devil series takes place in an alternate Chicago where magic and technology are in competition with each other. We follow a young woman named Rune Leveau who has a magical Talent for Finding things. She meets a cybernetically altered corporate spy who wants her to help him find a wanted criminal named Anna Masterson. The problem is, Rune is Anna Masterson.
And where did you get the original idea for this series?
Well, originally I was a playwright, and one day I had a really juicy dream that I then chewed on the rest of the day and came up with this very dramatic, emotionally intense scene. I then decided I need to create the story that justified this scene happening and I’ve been writing my way back to that scene ever since.
It sounds like the Lucky Devil books are urban fantasy tales. Is that how you’d describe them?
What I did with the Lucky Devil series was try to blend and balance the tropes and ideas in both urban fantasy and cyberpunk. If I was to give a subgenre title I would call it Cybermagic.
Now, Death And The Crone is not part of the main Lucky Devil series, but is a stand-alone side novel. What is it about, and how does it connect to the other books both chronologically and narratively?
This book does take place in the timeline of the main series. While it can be read independently, for those that want to read books “in order” it takes place after Saint Of Liars and The Devil’s Day. It’s a spinoff because it involves one of the side characters from Saint Of Liars and the main characters from the main series are support characters in this book.
Basically, this story came about when I got so tired of reading these books about some immortal guy or other falling for a young woman, usually a teenager. As I’ve gotten older, I just found it made little to no sense to me why someone who’s experienced in life would be attracted to someone just starting out. So I created this story, which is told from the point of view of Margaret, a 68-year-old woman, meeting one of these sexy, young-looking immortals. While I am spoofing on the immortal lover idea, this is a straightforward story about genuine people and genuine emotions.
Why did you decide it should be a side story and not part of the main branch of the series?
Principally because it doesn’t follow the point of views of my two main characters of the series, Rune and St. Benedict. There is new information about this world in this book that fans of the main series would be interested in and the events of this book do have a level of impact on the main series. I would imagine that if this series became a streaming show, we would work this story in as a sub-plot that would be happening collaterally, or maybe even be its own holiday special of some sort.
We talked a moment ago where the Lucky Devil books fit in, genre-wise. Would you say the same about Death And The Crone? Because at one point the cover was going to call it “A Lucky Devil Romance.”
I mean, I call it a romance because it’s definitely a paranormal romance, but in some ways, it is my own joke on myself. Like it’s the closest I personally can get to a true romance story. My main series has a romance undertone, but it has been fairly universally agreed it doesn’t qualify as a “romance” per se.
Speaking of the romance, are there any romance authors who were a particular big influence on the romantic aspects of Death And The Crone?
The one influence I can directly point to would be Fantasy Lover by Sherrilyn Kenyon. While it is a legit romance, it is also plays around with the romantic genre. I really enjoyed that book for making fun of the romance tropes while legitimately being a romance.
Aside from Sherrilyn Kenyon, are there any authors or specific stories that were a big influence on Death And The Crone but not on any of the other Lucky Devil books?
I would say I was also influenced by Mercedes Lackey’s Tales Of The Five Hundred Kingdoms with the way she took well known fairy tales and twisted them.
What about non-literary influences, such as movies, TV shows, or video games; did any of them have a big influence on Death And The Crone?
Easily Buffy The Vampire Slayer. As much as I love that show, it was a big influence on the current trope of sexy older immortal with teenage girl trope. I was also influenced by the anime show Spice And Wolf, mostly because I was really taken with how the Immortal wolf god was portrayed. She seemed like someone who had learned many lessons about life and was very wise while at the same time being engaging and interesting. I tried to put a lot of that confidence that comes from having just lived and learned over decades into my immortal character.
Now, Death And The Crone is the first of many Lucky Devil books you’re going to be releasing or rereleasing through eSpec Books. For the reissues, are you making any major changes?
At this time, I’m not intending on making any major changes to the main series. All that we are focused on is taking everything I’ve learned from the last three years of writing in novel form and putting that into my first work, such as having more active voice and less inactive voice, cleaning up some of adverb choices, and having my characters blink less when they’re surprised. I’ve grown a lot as a writer and I want that to be reflected in the new versions. The story is still the same story that people are falling in love with.
And do you know when these books will be out?
My understanding is that everything will be rereleased by May 2020, with The Devil’s Day being released around then as well.
Along with the four main series Lucky Devil novels, you have a spin-off series called Saint Code, the first of which, The Lost, is also being reprinted by eSpec, who are hoping to have it out by the end of the year, while a second, The Covenant, is still being written. What is the Saint Code side series about, and how does it connect, chronologically and narratively, to the main series?
Saint Code follows one of my main antagonists from the first book. While she was on the bad guy’s side, she wasn’t herself necessarily a bad guy. Also, it was a question in the first book about what happened to St. Augustina, who is herself a cybernetically-augmented spy, because her fate was open-ended. So this first story is about what happened to her after the events of The Finder Of The Lucky Devil.
Again, this can be read independently from the main story or as its own book 1, but there are events in this story that also affect or are relevant to the main series so that fans get more information about the Saints in particular in this world. The second book will actually be called The Constable, and will involve St. Augustina finding her place in the magical community as she helps them navigate the increasingly treacherous corporate powerhouses taking over Chicago. Chronologically, The Lost takes place after Death And The Crone before The Devil’s Day.
Are you going to be making the same kinds of changes to the new version of The Lost?
Again, mostly cosmetic with no intention to have any major changes.
Going back to Death And The Crone, it will be the first of these books that eSpec puts out. But do you think this is a good place to start reading this series? Or do you think people should wait for the main books, or maybe just The Finder Of The Lucky Devil, and then come back to Death And The Crone?
Death And The Crone is a fine place to start. My hope is that this will be an easy bridge for new readers to get into my work. Now if it was me, I always want to read series in order, but I have had it reported to me by fans who have read them out of order and still enjoyed them. I even had one who thought my second book was my first book and sought me out at a con to tell me how much he loved it and to get my next book, which turned out to be the first book, so he got a prequel.
Earlier I asked if any movies, TV shows, or video games had been an influence on Death And The Crone. But has there been any interest in adapting this story?
I am currently talking with people about the possibilities but I’m not in a position to discuss anything further at this time.
Do you have a preference to what form it would take?
Oh, I am definitely interested in this becoming a streaming series.
And if that happened who would you like them to cast in the main roles?
The only person I for sure want to cast is St. Augustina. I actually wrote her with one of my acting classmates in mind for the role, Betty Gabriel. Recently, she has been in both Get Out and Westworld and it is definitely a dream of mine to see her playing St. Augustina.
Finally, if someone enjoys Death And The Crone, what similar novel of someone else’s would you suggest they read while waiting for the next Lucky Devil book to come out?
That’s really tough because right now, there aren’t any other books I know of that are similar to Death And The Crone, which is part of the reason I wrote the book. My hope is that this book as well as the main series will become big and there will be a slew of other books featuring older protagonists.