Margo Lanagan Answers the Five Questions

Margo Lanagan burst onto the scene a couple of years ago with Black Juice, which won the World Fantasy Award, with particular praise given to “Singing My Sister Down,” a harrowing and original story. Since then, she’s been writing more stories, and they’re collected in Red Spikes, released this month.

Although she hardly needs to justify herself anymore, I asked her to do so anyway, with the infamous five, er, six questions. I should note this is the first occurrence of the words “schmoogly lil wuffles” in anyone’s answers.

Why should readers pick up your book as opposed to, say, just about anybody else’s book?
Because the cover is so cool, it’s pretty much a fetching decorator item, without you having to crack the spine. And if you DO open it, there are short stories inside, so you don’t have to hold its weight up for very long before it delivers. Of course, you may not like WHAT it delivers, but hey, the picking-up is the thing, to me.

Does your book have any socially redeeming qualities? If so, what are they?
For parents afraid of Empty Nest Syndrome, it’s the perfect book, because its pitched at your children, and it paints such a DARK picture of the world that your young adults won’t want to venture out the door. It’s also full of Disturbing Ambiguities that are great for family – nay, community – discussion.

Does your book have any medicinal or mental health value to readers?
It does. It provides many slight stimuli to the adrenal gland, as well as one or two glancing (oh-so-glancing) brushes against the funny bone. It will also make you feel deeply normal and not-weird.

Assume your book has been filed under “Ages 8 to 12″ in the children’s section, perhaps by mistake, perhaps not. How horrified do you imagine a child would be after reading your book, and why? How many years of therapy would the child take to recover from the experience?
I have the greatest respect for children of that age group and their ability to close books at the first whiff of wrongness-for-them. If they got through the whole book, I’d be flattered and delighted, and I guess the kinds of children who would do that would be not too easily horrified. I don’t think RED SPIKES would send them into therapy, but they might require therapy later in life as a result of bending their brain out of shape by Thinking Too Hard and Looking At Things Too Closely.

Why don’t you write more about cute stuff?
Cuteness is in the eye of the beholder. Personally, I find some of those sizzling souls flailing in the mouth of Hell to be cute as. Raving randy bachelor-monkeys? Coochy-coo! Clammy flying fish-gods? Resist them if you can, the schmoogly lil wuffles.

If no one buys your book and you are unable to continue publishing your fiction due to the intense vilification that occurs in the media, what line of work will you go into?
Poison-pen letter-writing and the manufacture of Molotov cocktails.

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