An interview with Megan Mackie, author of THE FINDER AT THE LUCKY DEVIL and THE SAINT OF LIARS. Rune Leveau is the owner of the Lucky Devil Bar, inherited from her witch aunt, and secretly the former wife of a programmer who discovered a way to computerize magic. Having reinvented herself, she just wants to live her life without complications but the megacorporations which rule the world bring. Unfortunately, when Saint Benedict, an agent for one of the most powerful megacorps, walks into her bar--anonymity is no longer a option.
1. Tell us about THE FINDER AT THE LUCKY DEVIL and THE SAINT OF LIARS?
Well, both books take place in an alternate Chicago where magic and technology are in economic/socio competition with each other. In this world mythical creatures and people working and living side by side with other humans. In order to compete, technology has advanced at an extreme rate so that cybernetic enhancements are becoming more readily available, marketed to take over and make available everything magic can do, as well as take over of the world’s economic and governmental systems by corporations. This is how I get a centaur who’s an actuary, or a mermaid dog groomer, or cybernetic corporate spies all in the same world.
2. What separates your series from most urban fantasy?
First off, it’s not solely urban fantasy, it also combines cyberpunk ideas and themes. While I know I’m not the first to do this, many, many more people have tapped the Tolkein well hard, so I think there is plenty of room for more books that combine the two genres like this. Also in my world, magic is out in the open, it’s not a secret thing. In fact, it’s the common thing, where technological advancements are the new shiny, amazing thing.
3. Do you have any favorite urban fantasy writers?
Neil Gaiman and Charles de Lint are two I’ve grown up with. I also love the Hollows series by Kim Harrison.
4. What made you decide to write in a combination cyberpunk and urban fantasy world?
Like I said, I don’t feel like that well has been very tapped at all and if you’re going to set a fantasy in the modern day era, we’re kind of already dipping into the cyberpunk world with our current level of technology, or we’re really, really close. So if you want to do a story set in our current world, you kind of have to acknowledge that there is a lot we can actually do today that is very much already like magic.
5. Rune is a character who dramatically reinvents herself after a terrible event in her life. What inspired such a storyline?
Definitely myself. Not to extreme Rune has to deal with, thank god, but I was peer abused as a child and it took me a long time to heal and pull strength from that experience. With this first book, I didn’t want her to already be a badass-I-know-what-I’m-doing-all-the-time-heroine, but I didn’t want her passive, damsel-in-distress either. It was a challenge to find the balance, between acknowledging where she’s damaged, where she is healing and still keeping her capable and the hero of the story. Most of the time I feel I succeeded and in the second book The Saint of Liars, I give her more cart blanche to be bolder and take more assured action without checking herself. By the end of the story, I expect her to be that kick-ass, self-assured character, but she has to earn it.
6. What were the inspirations for Saint Benedict?
Well, one of my favorite male character tropes is the beast, the monster looking for redemption. I was inspired largely by an manga I read called the Earl and the Fairy, where the hero was also had some very villain traits, even though he smiled and was charming and sympathetic and you just didn’t know for sure which way he was going to go until the end. I liked that idea so much, I played around with it in St. Benedict. He is driven, he can be cruel and ruthless, all the while being charming and funny and charismatic, all towards his goals. He has a measure of truly hating himself and that kind of thing can allow a person to do some pretty terrible things. He thinks he understands the world and everyone in it. So when he encounters Rune, she keeps surprising him and the surprise sets him off-center, forcing him to act differently. She doesn’t damsel up, she doesn’t try to seduce him and she doesn’t care about pleasing him. He can’t figure her out.
7. There is a strong element of romance in the story. What are the keys to a good romance in fiction?
I think you have to have a clear idea of why these two people fit together and how do they not. Perfect romances are boring and just getting to the happy ever after isn’t enough for me. I want to be able to see these two living and being together beyond where the book ends. I want to believe that they would have legitimate fights that might not even have to do with the plot, that they get something from each other, that they are better people for having been together. Flaws and needs are imperative.
8. Who is your favorite character after Rune and Benedict?
Probably Calvin, he’s a very kickable bad guy. He’s also a character who is evolving for me, so I’m curious to see where he goes.
9. What can we expect from you in the future?
Currently I am writing two spin-off books from my series, then I’ll be writing Book 3, possibly Book 4.
10. Any recommendations for writers trying to be indie or traditional?
Right now we are in the Wild West of literature and everyone wants to be a cowboy. Right a book you want to read and forget about the next hombre.
11. Why are megacorporations such great baddies?
Because mega corporations are the bad guys of our time. In a lot of ways it feels like they are trying to force us back to feudal times, where only themselves have rights or are people.
12. How has the response been to your books?
Really great. In my first year I sold 1000 Books and it’s just growing from there. People who take a chance on the first one, roll right into the second. I just gotta get more books out!
THE SAINT OF LIARS is the sequel to THE FINDER AT THE LUCKY DEVIL and the second volume of the LUCKY DEVIL series. The Lucky Devil series is an excellent find and one of the most interesting new books to come out of the indie urban fantasy market in years. I say that as an indie urban fantasy author myself (Red Room, The Bright Falls Mysteries). It takes place in a Shadowrun-esque setting where corporations rule and magic is abundant.
THE FINDER OF THE LUCKY DEVIL is probably my favorite discovery of 2018. I love it when a new author, especially a self-published one, manages to impress me. This novel is probably the best urban fantasy I've managed to read since the last of the Dresden Files and the early Mercedes Thompson novels. It's not a genre breaker ans follows a lot of familiar tropes but it does them well, has likable characters, creates a believable world, and sets up the sequels without flubbing anything. I could easily believe this is a book I'd find on the shelves of a bookstore and wouldn't have any trouble believing it had been released by one of the larger publishers.