Marjorie Liu is an exceptionally interesting person. Besides co-writing “Dark Wolverine” with Daniel Way and reviving “NYX” Liu started out studying East Asian Cultures with a minor in Biomedical Sciences at Lawrence University in Appleton, Wisconsin. She followed up by going to Law School at the University of Wisconsin, and graduated in 2003. Liu writes on her website: “I loved Law School. Did not like being a lawyer.”
So she decided to take some time off to focus on her writing, writing her first novel “Tiger Eye” in about a month. She sold it and was off to the races.
Splitting her time between China and Indiana, I simply had to know how she went from studying law, biosciences and Eastern culture to writing Wolverine’s evil son Daken and writing about teenage mutants living in New York City.
So we here at The Daily Planet, for our very first interview, sat down with Marjorie to talk about writing “Dark Wolverine” and her fifth anniversary as a professional writer.
THE DAILY PLANET: You went from studying biosciences and cultural studies to studying law and now you’re writing paranormal romantic thrillers, and Wolverine. Give me some idea how you went from those things to what you’re doing now.
MARJORIE LIU: I was in school all the way through, I had never taken anytime off so I passed the bar, and didn’t particularly like being an attorney, so I decided to take some time off. And I just sat down one day and started writing this idea I had in my head and I ended up writing a book. I wrote it really fast, in about a month, and I spent a couple of months to revise it and sent it out. It was accepted and I got a contract, and it was the start of writing full time. That was five years ago, it was the anniversary a couple of days ago.
Thank you. I was just at the right place at the right time, because they picked my submission up out of the slush pile.
That’s fantastic. That’s really great the way things worked out. Were you always into comics? Did you read them in college? When did it all start for you?
I first started reading comics when I was an undergraduate. I had loved the X-Men cartoon that was really my first introduction to the X-Men. I love that cartoon. There was one comic book store in my college town – I went to Lawrence University in Appleton, Wisconsin. One day I just walked in and picked up some issues of “Wolverine” and I think it was during Operation Zero Tolerance, and I just got hooked.
I was getting more into X-Men during that period too with the cartoon and Zero Tolerance.
Yeah, I just loved how they had to start over from scratch.
It was a fun time reading X-Men. So, speaking of, how did you go from writing fantasy novels to writing comics?
It was actually one of my first meetings with my agent. At a book convention in Tucson, and a little boy ran up during our conversation and he was dressed as Spider-Man and I said how I loved Spider-Man and the X-Men. I just said off the cuff [to my agent], “if I could ever write for Marvel, wow, that would be great.” She happened to know an editor who was acquiring authors to write Marvel tie-in novels for Pocket/Simon & Schuster but the Spider-Man slots were filling up because the movie was just coming out, and everyone wanted to write a Spider-Man novel. And no one had yet asked to write an X-Men novel, which boggled my mind, I was the first.
My first proposal was a kind of space opera, the editor liked it but it wasn’t approved because they thought it would be a bit difficult for first time readers to get in to. So I wrote a second proposal, which was a body snatching story and they liked it so I wrote the book. What I was told was the guys at Marvel really liked my work, and liked that particular novel [“X-Men: Dark Mirror”]. So it gave me the courage when I first went to New York Comic Con, I think it was the first year, to walk up to one of the guys at Marvel in charge of acquiring these talents and I handed him my card telling him that I wrote the novel and he knew who I was because of it. And I said, “if you’re ever interested in new writers—hey! There’s me!” and it started this back and forth discussion and eventually they offered me “NYX” so I turned in a proposal and we talked back and forth and I included in the proposal a sample script. Because I wanted to show them that not only could I outline the story, but I wanted to show them my style in actual script format. I don’t know if that helped at all, maybe it did, maybe it didn’t. But I went on to write “NYX,” and then at the end of NYX, Daniel Way read it and really liked my work so he asked me if I was interested in co-writing “Dark Wolverine”.
This is a pretty busy month for you. You have a new novel coming out, two comics…
Yeah it is. I have a story coming out in an anthology on the same day as “Darkness Calls” and that’s just one of the releases I have this summer. This book is an Urban Fantasy about a woman covered in living tattoos. The premise is many thousands of years ago there was a war between demons and this other race of creatures made of energy that can inhabit human flesh. When these beings can genetically manipulate humans they will bend them to their will. So they created an army of genetically modified humans to fight these demons and help lock them away in this multidimensional prison.
After all of these years, there is only one human left, Maxine Kiss, and the spell is weakening and the demons are threatening to get loose from their prison. So, you know, she’s it. She’s covered in these tattoos of demons that are bound to her body, and were passed on from mother to daughter. She inherited them, and they cover her body during the day and they totally protect her—a nuclear bomb could fall on her and she would survive, a chainsaw could be taken to her arm and the chainsaw would break. She can’t be killed, but at night the tattoos peel off her body and form their own demonic army and that’s when she’s at her most vulnerable, but they protect her.
Well, I can see how those ideas can eat at the inside of your brain while you’re trying to go over law books. Tell us about “Dark Wolverine” and how the many aspects of your life have formed into this new book.
Its dealing with Wolverine’s son Daken, and its following him as he enters the world. He’s been mostly in the shadows, and now suddenly he is in the public eye. People for the most part think he’s his father, you know, the real Wolverine. Which is it’s own issue because he hates his father. So, wearing the costume of a man he despises, and having to pretend that he’s him it offers him this opportunity to destroy his father’s reputation, but also requires him to reflect upon this person; this man that is his father, and that someone is someone he hates and in essence he lives his father’s life. So he has to go through things his father has had to go through. He is an interesting character.
That’s an interesting dynamic for a character. You’re co-writing it with Daniel Way. How is it working with him?
Daniel’s really easy-going. He’s a great guy to work with.
I’ve never written with someone before I was inclined to think that it wouldn’t be easy, but Daniel made it really easy.