Mishell Baker is a 2009 graduate of the Clarion Fantasy & Science Fiction Writers’ Workshop. Her short fiction has appeared in Beneath Ceaseless Skies, Daily Science Fiction, Redstone Science Fiction, and Electric Velocipede.
Her urban fantasy series The Arcadia Project is being released by Simon & Schuster’s Saga imprint beginning with Borderline in March 2016. The series is narrated by Millicent Roper, a snarky double-amputee and suicide survivor who works with a ragtag collection of society’s least-wanted, keeping the world safe from the chaotic whims of supernatural beasties.
When Mishell isn’t convention-hopping or going on wild research adventures, she lives in Los Angeles with her husband and two changelings. When her offspring are older, she will probably remember what her hobbies are. In the meantime, she enjoys sending and receiving old-fashioned handwritten paper letters.
Mishell answered a few of my questions about her new book, Borderline.
Kristin Centorcelli: Will you tell us about your new book, BORDERLINE?
Mishell Baker: It’s about a suicide survivor with borderline personality disorder who gets recruited into a secret organization that polices the traffic between our world and a parallel magical one. As a sort of training exercise she’s supposed to pay a visit to a gorgeous Seelie Viscount who has overstayed his welcome in Los Angeles, but… things get complicated immediately.
KC: What inspired you to write the book?
MB: My love for Los Angeles itself. So many people write about the seedy side of L.A., and I don’t exactly shy away from that, but there’s also so much beauty and so much that’s just plain surreal. So I thought to myself, suppose Hollywood “glamor” and fairy “glamor” are pretty much the same thing?
Everything sort of spun out from that idea.
KC: For you, what makes a good story?
MB: Love. I’ve been thinking about this, because I get asked it a lot, and it boils down to love. I can’t get into a story unless I care about the viewpoint character(s), and I can’t care about a character until I know whom or what that character loves. There doesn’t have to be a romance in the story per se, though I’ll admit those hook me pretty sharply for obvious reasons. It can be love for a mentor, love for one’s home, love for a chosen art form. I’m not as drawn to stories that revolve around revenge, treasure acquisition, or even worldwide-disaster-prevention. I am mostly interested in a complex, fascinating person’s undying passion for… whatever.
KC: Have you read any good books lately?
MB: Every book I’ve read lately is good, because if it isn’t, I don’t keep reading it! Right now I’m in the middle of War and Peace, and suspect I will be for quite some time. The most recent book I enjoyed was Last Song Before Night, by Ilana C. Myer, an elegant fantasy that’s very much driven by love but also very dark in places.
KC: What’s next for you?
MB: The sequel to Borderline, of course. It’s called Phantom Pains, and while it still centers around Millie and brings back some other favorites, it introduces several new characters that I absolutely adore. Anyone who enjoys Borderline will love the way Millie gets sucked back into doing the fey’s dirty work.