I had the opportunity to interview science fiction and fantasy author Cedar Sanderson shortly after her novel The Violet Mouse became available.

Tamara Wilhite: What led you to write so many combination magic and mystery novels from the Witchward series to the Pixie Noir series?

Cedar Sanderson:  I never intended to write so many fantasy tales. I wanted to write science fiction – after all, I was becoming a scientist when I started my writing career, and am one now. However, the idea of magic being real has always intrigued me. Clarke’s Law, that technology can be indistinguishable from magic, that’s driven my magic realms in that I want them to have physical bounds and rules. But writing fantasy allows me to explore outside the realm of the possible and that frees me to have fun with the stories.


Tamara Wilhite: How do these fantasy universes differ from each other?

Cedar Sanderson:  Witchward is a world where magic is real, but rare. It’s also openly occurring, albeit misunderstood, often misused, and generally taboo. I wanted to write a police procedural with a fourth sense, where a detective had something extra, but still has to be able to produce evidence that will stand up in a court hostile to magic.

Pixie Noir is my homage to pulp fiction, to the hard-boiled detective, and I opted to set it in a world where humanity doesn’t realize magic exists. One pixie has the job of keeping it that way, by keeping magic users dwelling in the human realm from blowing their cover. Underhill is vulnerable to human force and doesn’t want to be overrun… that’s where the story starts.


Tamara Wilhite: These aren’t your only fantasy series. Children of Myth is another example. However, you also write science fiction. Tanager’s Fledglings comes to mind.  What is it about?

Cedar Sanderson:  Funny you should pair these two. Both books are actually science fiction. However, Tanager is classic space opera, written in homage to Heinlein’s Citizen of the Galaxy and Andre Norton. I was looking for that small story of a boy coming to manhood, struggling to make a living. The Children of Myth duology (which will eventually have more books) is science fantasy. A parallel universe powered by powerful nanotechnology had opened a portal to our own in the distant past, and refugees from that world into our own became the gods of myth and legend.


Tamara Wilhite: What do you think has broader appeal or sells better – fantasy or science fiction?

Cedar Sanderson:  Fantasy sells better, overall. I’m going to keep writing science fiction because it has so much potential to inspire real-world discoveries and it keeps us yearning for the stars.


Tamara Wilhite: And what genre is The Violet Mouse?

Cedar Sanderson:  The Violet Mouse is hard science fiction, it’s a short story inspired by real people I know, working in real molecular biology laboratories. And it has so much potential, at the end, that the reader is left wondering ‘what comes next?’ and that’s good Hard SF.


Tamara Wilhite: Your childhood spent on the Oregon coast is reflected in the settings in your book. In your bio, you describe jobs form body artist to apprentice shepherdess. Does that diverse experience ever influence your stories.

Cedar Sanderson:  I grew up a military brat. I spent a lot of time in Oregon, with my grandmother, who is an amazing human, teaching me about nature. I lived in Alaska for years after Dad got out of the Air Force, which is where the settings of other books come in  – like my upcoming novel of Alaska and Siberia, The East Witch.
I’ve done a lot of things to earn a living. It’s definitely given me experiences I could put into stories. It’s brought me into contact with a broad spectrum of people, and I draw on them for characters. I find that I like to watch people, figure out what makes them tick, and use that in my writing.


Tamara Wilhite: What else has influenced your writing?

Cedar Sanderson:  I grew up with no TV. Easy enough when you spend part of your childhood with no electricity. I was also homeschooled. Between those, I became a voracious reader and an autodidact who loves to research. I know that has influenced my writing. When you run out of stuff to read, you start telling yourself stories!


Tamara Wilhite: Congratulations on the new release. What else are you working on?

Cedar Sanderson:  I have a novel set in the same world, but not with the same characters, as Pixie NoirIt is in editing now. That is The East Witch, set in a parallel Siberia where the Rus did not overrun the entire East, and where Baba Yaga is a very real threat. I’m also working on a serial novel, The Case of the Perambulating Hatrack, which is available for free on my website until I’m finished, at which point it will disappear until after editing when it is published.


Tamara Wilhite: Is there anything you’d like to add?

Cedar Sanderson:  Thank you for interviewing me! I always figure things out about myself while I am trying to answer interview questions. I really hope some of your readers enjoy some of what I wrote – it’s eclectic, but so am I, as an author, an artist, and a scientist.


Tamara Wilhite: Thank you for speaking with me.

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