Interviewed and Edited by Scott Middlebrook of Alien Universe Timeline
Olivia and her twin sister Viola have been dragged around the universe for as long as they can remember. Their parents, both xenobiologists, are always in high demand for their research into obscure alien biology.Alien: Echo by Mira Grant
Wanting to be an author before she even knew that “author” counted as real job, there was only one option for Mira Grant – never stop writing. Ever.
Considering Mira Grant doesn’t actually exist, she spins a pretty good tale. A refreshing first foray for the Alien franchise into Young Adult fiction with Alien : Echo. But where is the line between Mira Grant and her actual-ego, and long time Alien fan, Seanan McGuire? “Mira is a marketing device. The only difference is Seanan’s name is on all the bills. Also, Seanan actually exists.”
“Alien is the first movie I can remember. I was maybe three at the time,” she recalls. “I’ve been a fan for essentially my entire life.” However her first venture into the wider Alien/ Predator universe was the 2017 Predator anthology If It Bleeds. Her story, Blood and Sand, put an orphaned brother and sister in the Montana of the Great Depression, in the ‘care’ of an aunt and uncle – when a star falls from the sky. “Predators won’t hurt children unless those children hurt them first. I wanted a setting where there would be little oversight for people who were willing to take in kids that weren’t their own, and I wanted kids so they’d be relatively safe in a very unsafe situation.”
The difference between the truth and a lie is that both of them can hurt, but only one will take the time to heal you afterward.Mira Grant
Whereas some authors writing in the Alien series have been given guidelines on a specific setting or inclusion of certain characters, the only directive this time was “they wanted a remote colony world where no one knew about the Xenomorphs”. From there Grant produced the pitch for Alien: Salvage which starred Malone Larkin and her sister, Jill. Their parents Katherine and John were also present as was Kora. As the story morphed into its final form, so did the title. “I came up with both titles. Alien: Salvage was the pitch for a very different book. The name change from Malone to Olivia came from Fox, who had already named my protagonist “Olivia Shipp.” I did appreciate the Shakespeare reference (Twelfth Night) this enabled me to make with Livvy and Vi.” Aside from some Fox tweaks, the story came almost entirely from Grant.
Despite the concept of a Young Adult title being met with dismissal by a number of people on social media – it was, unsurprisingly, predominantly from those who were clueless about YA fiction. Echo does not pull any punches. One particular death, which I won’t spoil, was one of the more graphic in recent Alien novels. However, there was no interference from either Imprint nor Fox. “I’ve been doing this long enough to know the drill,” says Grant. “Anyone who thinks YA means “non-violent” hasn’t been reading a lot of young adult fiction recently.”
Although Grant has had no input into Olivia’s future – her creations adventures will continue in the forthcoming comic series Aliens: Colonial Marines – Rising Threat.
Thanks to Seanan McGuire for taking the time to answer our questions.