A Marjorie Liu Interview – Dirk, Steele, and X-23

Recently I was given the chance to have a phone chat with best-selling author Marjorie M. Liu, author of the “Dirk & Steele” paranormal romance series and “Hunter Kiss” urban fantasy series; Marjorie is also a current writer for Marvel Comics with “X-23” and “Daken.”

Marjorie Liu

In anticipation for Marjorie’s latest Dirk & Steele novel, In the Dark of Dreams, we discussed the D & S series, working on comics, and the best way to bribe her if you want spoilers for her upcoming releases!

Lexie C.:  First thank you so much for this interview Marjorie!  This is kind of a big deal for me.  I know you’re very busy, and you haven’t interviewed with our site before.

Marjorie M. Liu:  I really appreciate you speaking with me and the invitation, it was really sweet of you!

I’m sorry we didn’t catch up at New York Comic Con, I was looking forward to seeing you. 🙂

Oh, yeah, I’ve been doing so many conventions lately and it just seemed overwhelming to be doing the entire con.

Previously my exposure to your works has been through your Marvel comic work, in specific NYX: No Way Home, featuring one of my favorite characters ever, Kiden.  Will she be appearing later in the X-23 series?

A little.  I’m not sure how, as of now the arcs are going to be Gambit and Miss Sinister, then a one-shot and then another arc.  I believe Kiden will be showing up at the end of next year (2011), but we plan these things out so far in advanced it feels more immediate for me.  But she will be coming back.

Are there plans for more comics featuring Kiden and the crew?  Or will she remain a background character?

Probably a background character.  I mean, it’s always hard to say what plans Marvel has, but as far as I know she’ll just be showing up as a background character.

As you also write the Daken series for Marvel, will there be any crossover between the two?  They are sort of related…in a weird way…[Daken is Wolverine’s son, while Laura/X-23 was cloned from Wolverine]

Yes, there will be a definite crossover, in fact we’ll begin working on that soon.  I believe it will be sooner than later.

Both Daken and X-23 are on similar publishing schedules, issue wise, so that must make it a little easier at least.

It makes it a lot easier that I’m working on both books [laughs], so it’s very easy to keep track of what’s going on, with the who and what and how.

You mentioned in a recent interview that you’re hoping to work with Jubilee, right?  Will that be happening?

I will definitely be working with Jubilee’s character.

Are there other Marvel-verse characters you hope to work with?

You know there are really so many, I’ve really been fortunate with Dark Wolverine with who I’ve been able to work with that I wouldn’t ordinarily be able to, like the Fantastic Four.  And of course I worked on Black Widow, so I’ve been really fortunate to work with the characters that I love.

Right now the same thing is happening.  I really love Gambit, so I really enjoyed writing him into the book.  So we’ll just see where that goes.

Have you found writing for comics to be helpful to you when writing your novels?  Or is the process nearly the same for you?

That’s an interesting question, cause in a way the process is still the same.  It’s still story-telling, it’s still about the characters, you still need to keep your plots tight and energetic and forward-thinking; but because of the format is so different–comics are only 22 pages, the focus is on dialogue, and often you’re sharing the weight of the story-telling with an artist–it is a different focus in some ways than a novel.

But I think writing novels first helped me write comics, just because of characters and story work, and vice versa.  The emphasis on dialogue and keeping things sharp and tight in comics has hopefully helped my novel writing, as well.  I feel there is a difference now in the current book I’m working on in the way I write my dialogue; I feel like it’s sharper and it’s tighter, and I don’t know if it’s directly related to the comic book work, but it could be.

Recently urban fantasy and paranormal romance as a genre seems to have taken the comic world by storm.  Jim Butcher, Patricia Briggs, and Laurel K. Hamilton have all had series of theirs turned into comic books.  Are there plans for either Dirk and Steele or Hunter Kiss to be given their own visual adaptation?

I have no idea.  I will every now and then commission a piece from Kalman Andrasofszky [the artist for NYX: No Way Home].  He did a sketch for Fire King and another one for Hunter Kiss, so I think every now and then visually when I see the way he interprets, it would work really well.  There aren’t any current plans on the horizon, however.

In the Dark of Dreams this marks book 10 in the Dirk & Steele series, correct?

Yes it is.

As a newcomer to the series, I admit that’s quite daunting!  Are the books relatively standalone so you can pick up whichever one sparks your interest first?

Oh, completely!  At least I think they are relatively standalone.  I’ve heard other people say they are, so I’m comforted by that.  I personally try to write them as standalone novels, that way you can pick up and start anywhere in the series and not feel totally lost.

With the Hunter Kiss series, that’s a little bit different.  I can see people feeling a little bit lost if they started in the middle of the series.  The Dirk & Steele series is meant to be more episodic.

Following the Tiger Eye game, will there be more collaborations [with Passion Fruit Games] in the future?

I hope so.  We’re still chugging along, and we’re hoping that the second part of the Tiger Eye game will be made, but we’re not sure at this point.  But fingers crossed, never say never.

With the 2 novel series and 2 comic series you are currently working on, do you have time to do anything else?

I actually have a brand new series, or at least we believe it will be the beginning of a new series, starting next year.  In addition to the Dirk and Steele series and the Hunter Kiss series.  The book doesn’t have a title yet but it’s a mystery novel, with light paranormal element, about a girl who can bring inanimate objects to life and they help her solve mysteries.  And the first mystery she has to solve has to do with her favorite great aunt, who she thinks is this very quiet and very proper older woman.  When her great-aunt breaks her hip and needs help, she learns that actually her great-aunt was a famous dominatrix during WW2.

Oh, wow! That’s…

Yeah…[laughs]. So the mystery unfolds.  I’m still trying to come up with a title for that.  But it will be published sometime next year, in the summer.

How do you have time to have fun?

You know, actually, it’s funny, I actually do have a lot of fun.  Part of the fun comes from the fact that I just really love what I do.  I just really love my job, and writers are a pretty solitary bunch, anyway, so the wonderful thing about being in this business is that I’ve met so many wonderful friends who are writers and artists.  So even though we only see each a couple times a year, we’re always talking to one and other and keeping track of each other.

And travel, of course. I work while I travel, so I’m still getting out and seeing things and having a good time.  So I never feel like I’m losing out.

Its been five years (give or take some months) since Tiger Eye’s debut–do you ever look back and think, “Hot damn, where did the time go?”

Yeah, I do that all the time [laughs].  I received the coverflats for a re-issue, and it gave a date on the back of when the book was originally published.  I was like, “wow, how did that happen?” and so it kind of made me step back and sort of look at the work and think about things.

Between everything you’ve done you have about two dozen books out, right?

Yeah, if you include the anthologies I’ll have about that.  And next year I’ll have about 3 novels coming out and the comic book work, and every now and then a short story for an anthology.  It’s good I love what I do.

I read your story in the Masked anthology (edited by Lou Anders).  I enjoyed it quite a bit, and I was hoping there would be more with those characters and that world.

I would actually like to do more in that world, and I’m trying to think about where I would like to go with this and what direction I can go.  Once I got into it I really got into it.

What’s a typical day like for you?  Is it the same every day, do you have a schedule, or…?

It just varies.  Luckily I write full time, and I work from home, so I just play things by ear.  But generally speaking I get up around 6 or 7, feed the cats and take care of the poodle, feed myself [laughs], and then I just start writing.  I’ll write through the morning, stopping every now and then to check the e-mail and walk around while checking on things.  Then I have a late lunch/early dinner, then I chill out for a little bit and then get back to work.

I don’t write straight through the entire day, but on average I work on and off from about 8 in the morning to 8 at night, go to bed and start it all over again the next day.

And finally if a reader, not saying me, but you know, just a reader, wanted to bribe you for information pertaining to spoilers about your upcoming work…what’s the best way to go about doing that?

Hmm…chocolate, I think.  It’s difficult to get spoilers out of me.  If it’s comic book spoilers, because I don’t want to get in trouble with Marvel.  But with book spoilers I’m a little more easy-going.

And I just happen to have a chocolate shop around the corner.  Hmm….