My Favorite Bit: John Wiswell talks about SOMEONE YOU CAN BUILD A NEST IN

John Wiswell is joining us today to talk about his novel, Someone You Can Build a Nest In. Here’s the publisher’s description:

Discover this creepy, charming monster-slaying fantasy romance—from the perspective of the monster—by Nebula Award-winning debut author John Wiswell

Shesheshen has made a mistake fatal to all monsters: she’s fallen in love.

Shesheshen is a shapeshifter, who happily resides as an amorphous lump at the bottom of a ruined manor. When her rest is interrupted by hunters intent on murdering her, she constructs a body from the remains of past meals: a metal chain for a backbone, borrowed bones for limbs, and a bear trap as an extra mouth.  

However, the hunters chase Shesheshen out of her home and off a cliff. Badly hurt, she’s found and nursed back to health by Homily, a warm-hearted human, who has mistaken Shesheshen as a fellow human. Homily is kind and nurturing and would make an excellent co-parent: an ideal place to lay Shesheshen’s eggs so their young could devour Homily from the inside out. But as they grow close, she realizes humans don’t think about love that way.

Shesheshen hates keeping her identity secret from Homily, but just as she’s about to confess, Homily reveals why she’s in the area: she’s hunting a shapeshifting monster that supposedly cursed her family. Has Shesheshen seen it anywhere?

Eating her girlfriend isn’t an option. Shesheshen didn’t curse anyone, but to give herself and Homily a chance at happiness, she has to figure out why Homily’s twisted family thinks she did. As the hunt for the monster becomes increasingly deadly, Shesheshen must unearth the truth quickly, or soon both of their lives will be at risk.

And the bigger challenge remains: surviving her toxic in-laws long enough to learn to build a life with, rather than in, the love of her life.

What’s John’s favorite bit?

Back before I knew this was a novel, and back before I even knew this was a story, there were the two of

The monster and the cinnamon roll. Two characters who were ceaselessly fun no matter what I
imagined them doing together. Everything in this book is because of two characters who had to meet. It
didn’t matter how much sleep I lost to write them into crossing paths.

Shesheshen is both monster and proud. She’s a shapeshifting nightmare who happily devours any
monster hunters or unruly sheriffs who trouble her little isthmus. She has trouble developing her own
bones and internal organs, but fortunately everyone is an organ donor when you’re a monster. She has
rods for fibulas, a rusty chain for a spinal column, and when people need to be bitten, she’s got a secret
bear trap smile for them. Her entire life has been one of being hunted. Her solitude is part of her

So she isn’t ready to be rescued.

After being poisoned and driven off a ravine, she’s fished out of the water by an odd human woman
named Homily. Homily mistakes Shesheshen for a fellow human, and nurses her back to health. Nobody
has ever spoon fed Shesheshen broth before, or swaddled her in quilts. Why isn’t this woman murdering

Homily is different. She travels in a cart full of books, loves the wilderness, and has never met a
medicinal plant she didn’t want to study. She is happily fat, and has known many disabled people
throughout her life. So if Shesheshen speaks in an odd fashion? Or looks strange? Homily rolls with it. In
fact, she thinks Shesheshen’s misanthropy is charming.

Shesheshen doesn’t know how to handle being close with someone. She misses her anytime they’re
apart, and Homily feels the same. They both carry so much pain, and each carries it easier with the
other. These two weirdos get closer and closer, but it’s predicated on a lie. Shesheshen feels suffocated
hiding who she truly is. She has to come clean. Homily is the first person she’s met who might really

So Shesheshen is about to finally tell her when Homily reveals why she’s in the isthmus: she’s hunting a
shapeshifting monster that cursed her family. Has Shesheshen seen it anywhere?

Shesheshen has to kill her. It’s a choice that literally tears Shesheshen apart. Down in the depths of her
lair, she rips her shape open in an emotional meltdown. She has to rebuild herself while wrestling with
this impossible question: to be safe or to be loved? There’s no way the two of them can be safe
together. Nor can she possibly tell Homily the truth about herself now, not with Homily hunting her.
Every minute Homily is around her is a risk. She knows what she has to do.

And the minute they’re together again? Seeing Homily snoozing with a book? She can’t do it.

The whole story hinges on that choice. She’ll have to hide in plain sight, to figure out why Homily’s
family thinks she’s cursed them. It’ll uncover secrets both from Homily’s family and Shesheshen’s own. It
will be the hardest thing she’s ever done. But she can’t do anything else. Even monsters get attached.


Book Link





John Wiswell is a disabled writer who lives where New York keeps all its trees. He won the 2021 Nebula Award for Best Short Fiction for “Open House on Haunted Hill,” and the 2022 Locus Award for Best Novelette for “That Story Isn’t The Story.” He has also been a finalist for the Hugo, World Fantasy, and British Fantasy Awards. His fiction has been translated into ten languages, and has appeared in venues such as Uncanny Magazine, the LeVar Burton Reads podcast, Tordotcom, Nature Magazine, Lightspeed Magazine, and the Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction. He can be found around the internet through his Linktree:

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