SDCC 2012: Foes Beyond Fangs and Fur Panel


Comic Con’s book-inspired Foes with Fur and Fangs panel brought together some of paranormal fiction’s big hitters to talk about the genre they’re in and why it’s so huge. Lytherus was excited to be there as these amazing authors discussed their books, interests, and what’s coming up for them.

The panelists consisted of Gail Carriger (The Parasol Protectorate), Amelia Atwater-Rhodes (The Den of Shadows, Poison Tree), Maggie Stiefvater (Shiver, The Scorpio Races), Tom Sniegoski (The Fallen series), Rachel Caine (Morganville Vampires), Kiersten White (Paranormalcy),  and Amber Benson (Calliope Reaper-Jones).

The questions were asked individually at first of each panelist’s unique series, and then the moderator moved on to general questions. The first up was what is never sexy? The answers were hilarious and ranged from necrophilia and gremlins to subways and machinery. Acidic saliva and huge age differences also made an appearance.

One of the main questions asked to everyone was if the authors enjoy killing with glee and abandon, or if it’s painful for them. Gail Carriger says she doesn’t kill off her darlings, as it is mainly comedy that she writes (she said she also has a hard time reading books where the main characters die). Tom Sniegoski writes till he gets to that point and then is like, “oh no!” and does everything he can to try and prevent the inevitable. Amelia Atwater-Rhodes hesitates to kill too, unless it’s important. It needs to seem possible though for everyone to be at risk to keep the stories moving. Rachel Caine caused a few laughs when she talked about how she has a ton of killings in her books. She usually kills of a protagonist in the first book to shake things up, because there’s no danger without it being real danger, and at that point anything is possible.

The moderator then asked about the importance of location in their books. Gail Carriger again started off the chatting, talking about how England in her novels is definitely a character, particularly in this Steampunk world. Rachel Caine mentioned Morganville as being a living, breathing part of her story. Kierston White talks about the fairy paths in her books and hoe on them you can travel to anywhere in the world, and also into the fairy realms, and how they’re integral to her plot. And Amber Benson talked about how the castle in her stories was directly inspired by the Hearst Castle in California.

There were lots of individual questions. Gail Carriger talked about her soullessness idea in her books, the idea that something could neutralize the supernatural, and how that inspired her many series. She also talked about how hen she’s researching the Victorian era for the stories she often gets lost. For her, time-wise, it’s usually a 1:1 ratio of writing and research with her stories. She keeps things straight by physically writing items down in a story bible.

Amelia Atwater-Rhodes talked about how it is creating books based around rules to protect us from our own natures. She also talked about what genre hasn’t worked for her as a writer (epic fantasy), and how when writing villains she doesn’t believe in pure evil, but needs balance.

Maggie Stiefvater talked about her upcoming book The Raven Boys, and how we all have something we’re really good at. She mentioned Chainsaw, the raven character in the books, and how clever ravens are in general. She also cracked up the audience when talking about her failed attempt at writing IRA thrillers.

Tom Sniegoski was the token man on the panel, which was taken with good humor. A lot of his questions were book-specific, but there were a few general points he talked about. During a question about the reader’s first “demon lover,” so to speak, he laughed and talked about how he has a lot of “tense” characters. There was also a lot of discussion of the dog characters in his book, and how it was writing them, deciding the boundaries of what is acceptable for an animal character with communication. He also talked about how he has an entire bookshelf filled with “angel crap” that he often references when he’s looking up stuff on the politics of heaven and hell.

Rachel Caine says Morganville sucks (ha!). She likes how her characters are trying to find safety and security in hell, and that that sums up high school. She also talked about writing vampires, and what the pre-conceived ideas of what these creatures are verses the historical myths these stories come from.

Kiersten White talked about the balance between normal and paranormal and why it’s so popular. She said that teens want to be both different and the same, and that in YA the insecurities are magnified. She also talked about how scary fairies in England are, and how when writing she wanted to move away from the stereotypical .

And last but not least, Amber Benson cracked the audience up repeatedly with witty, often raunchy asides that had tears streaming down my face from laughing so hard. She talked about the themes in her book , and about owning who you are, whatever you are. She laughingly said her first nerd crush was zombie Michael Jackson in Thriller (which I think is particularly awesome). She talked in detail about the adorable hellhound runt pup in her books, and what it’s like to write anthropomorphically. And she still worries that she gets all this wrong, this writing stuff.

My stomach hurt at the end from all the laughing, and I got great insight into authors’ personalities in addition to the worlds they created. There are a few on there whose books I will definitely be reading in the near future!



About Author

Mike Macauley is the founder and editor in chief of He also founded and runs, the official Inheritance Cycle community, and published his book, The Inheritance Almanac, in 2011. Mike can be found on Twitter at @mikemacauley.

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