I’ve always been a fan of Lish McBride. I love her brand of snark and that love only got stronger when we went to Disneyland together. I devoured and absolutely loved Firebug and was so so so excited be invited to be part of the blog tour.
Before we get to Lish’s interview, let’s check out the book.
Ava is a firebug—she can start fires with her mind. Which would all be well and good if she weren’t caught in a deadly contract with the Coterie, a magical mafia. She’s one of their main hit men . . . and she doesn’t like it one bit. Not least because her mother’s death was ordered by Venus—who is now her boss.
When Venus asks Ava to kill a family friend, Ava rebels. She knows very well that you can’t say no to the Coterie and expect to get away with it, though, so she and her friends hit the road, trying desperately to think of a way out of the mess they find themselves in. Preferably keeping the murder to a minimum.
Sounds good, right?
1. Where did the idea for Firebug come from?
I was driving, actually. This was way back before I wrote Hold Me Closer, Necromancer—years before it, when I was still trying to figure out how that whole thing was going to work. This was probably eleven years ago. So I was driving to pick up Man Friend from his apprenticeship since we were sharing a car, and since I drove that way pretty much daily, my brain was wandering and I started thinking about vampires (my brain is a strange and cluttered place, sometimes.) and how fire is one of the things they can’t stand. Which led me to think about how someone who could create fire would be the perfect assassin against vampires. This is kind of before the big vampire boom and so originally there were going to be more in the story. Anyway, it seemed like a neat idea, but I was busy getting my undergraduate degree at the time, and I hadn’t even tried my hands at novels yet, so I shelved it. When we sold HMC,N and NTS, my agent asked what else I had, so I pitched him the idea. I really didn’t have much more than a vague concept…even though by the time I pitched it, I’d gone through grad school and actually written a version of Firebug for my screenwriting class. It was pretty terrible, really, but mapping it out like that made me realize how much of the idea wasn’t working. The only things that really carried over to the novel were Ava, Lock, Venus and Owen, the setting, and a small amount of the plot.
2. Why do you love Ava and why should we root for her?
I made a joke when I was working on Firebug that it was kind of fun to write someone so different from Sam, the lead in my other two books. Sam is just so…nice. And I love him, don’t get me wrong, but he’s much nicer than I am. Ava, well, she’s awkward and snarky, and she’s been forced to become a survivor and as such has a somewhat…overly practical outlook on things sometimes. Simply, she’s not as nice. And when I said this my agent said, “So it must be much easier for you to write her, huh?”
I’m not sure that answered the question. I guess I love her because she’s really trying her best, but she screws up a lot because she hasn’t had a lot of practice interacting with people on a long-term basis, what with the way she’s been brought up and all. As for why you should root for her, well, again, she means well. Ava is really trying to do her best in a terrible situation. She hasn’t had things easy, and they aren’t getting easier, but she truly tries to do some good when she can. At the very least she tries to take care of the family she’s built.
3. What was the weirdest thing you googled while researching?
This is hard because I spend most of my time researching weird stuff. I’m pretty sure I’m on some sort of government watch list by now. But it’s probably a toss up between the time I Googled what a decomposition timeline would be for a non-embalmed human body if left in a mausoleum during spring/summer conditions in a temperate climate and the time I Googled the temperature at which human remains burn. I also once Googled the best way to blow up a car. Seriously on some sort of list. Also, it’s times like these that I like to remember the age range I’m writing for and cackle.
4. What makes a good villain?
They generally don’t know (or don’t care) that they’re evil. They’re usually just really practical about getting what they want and they don’t care who they have to plow through to get it. That being said, the best ones have some depth to them and if you can, something unexpected. Douglas, the villain from the Sam books, has a very sympathetic story thread to him. You occasionally get a glimpse into the Douglas he could have been if he hadn’t been raised by his psychotic aunt. And they don’t always have to be powerful. Firebug has a secondary villain who isn’t powerful at all, and yet is almost as devastating to Ava. Villains take many forms.
It helps if they are also snappy dressers.
5. Describe Firebug in 5 words.
Pages, words, characters, cover art. (I’m kidding.)
How about: Teen assassins on the run? (I’m not very good at this.)
Speed [ish] round:
1. You get the call/email/letter that says you’re being published for the first time. What happens next?
My agent asks what’s wrong because I don’t sound very excited and I spend five minutes trying to convince him that no, I am very excited, I just don’t always emote properly, and besides I don’t believe things until I have them in my hand. Which meant that I wasn’t convinced I was getting published until I got my contract 3-4 months later, and even then I was dubious. In fact, I still feel it’s a really elaborate prank.
But after I convinced my agent that I was happy, I called my mother and all my brothers to share my news. So basically my form of celebrating was to be on the phone A LOT.
2. What three things would you take to a desert island?
Really, as long as you have the TARDIS, you don’t really need to take anything else. Except maybe the instruction manual for it, and a snack to eat while you read the manual. I don’t really recommend taking the Doctor with you, as he will just get you into trouble.
3. You can only read one book for the rest of your life. What is it?
I refuse to answer this question on the grounds that it makes me sad to think about.
4. Who are your favorite swoony boys?
I don’t know if I’m a swoony type person. I’m not against it, but I think I’m more attracted to personality and a sense of humor than anything. I mean, it’s not like I have a list of names hanging about or anything.
*Whistles and walks away nonchalantly*
5. What is the one thing about publishing you wish someone would have told you?
Everyone will assume that you know what they’re talking about right away, even though you are a total noob. The sooner you start asking people to explain things to you, the better.
Lish McBride was raised by wolves in the Pacific Northwest. It rains a lot there, but she likes it anyway. She spent three years away while she got her MFA in fiction from the University of New Orleans, and she liked that too, although the hurricane did leave much of her stuff underwater. Her main goal in going to college was to become a writer so she could wear pajamas pretty much all the time. She currently resides in Seattle, spending most of her time at her day job at Third Place Books in Lake Forest Park. The rest of her time is divided between writing, reading, volunteering at 826 Seattle, and Twitter, where she either discusses her desire for a nap or her love for kittens. (Occasionally ponies.)
She plays a fierce game of potato hockey, and by “fierce” she of course means that she plays dirty, not that she plays well.
Huge thanks to Macmillan for the invite and to Lish for taking the time. Make sure you’re checking out her website, following her on Twitter, liking her Facebook page and adding all of her books to your TBR shelf on Goodreads.
And click here for the other tour stops and additional Lish awesomeness.
Now. Macmillan has so graciously offered up a hardcover copy of Firebug. Contest is US/Canada only and additional rules are here.