Friday, 30 July 2010

Kelley Armstrong & Marjorie M. Liu Talk Comics and More

Guest Post by Elena Stokes of Wunderkind PR.

Kelley Armstrong and Marjorie M. Liu talk to each other about writing novels and comics and writing strong characters―male and female. For the latest from these two urban fantasy greats, check out the synopses below. Kelley’s new novel, WAKING THE WITCH, and Marjorie’s latest novel, A WILD LIGHT both hit stores Tuesday, July 27th!

Kelley, in addition to your novels, you write comics too. How did that happen for you, what do you enjoy about it...and what was the transition like for you? Has it affected the way you look at your novels? Or do you think writing novels helps write comics? What's your next project?

Kelley: I was asked to write a 5 issue story for Joss Whedon's Angel. The series ended with a cliffhanger in season 5. Season 6 was then in comics, and I was contributing to that. Before that, I'd done the script for an online graphic novella for my website, and I can say that writing my own characters is MUCH easier. I've never done fanfic or anything with another person's creations. As much as I love the Buffy/Angel universe, I quickly realized I wouldn't ever know enough to be an authority on it, and I felt like I should be if I was writing in it. So it was a great experience, but part of what I took from it is that I'm much more comfortable sticking to reading about other people's worlds and writing only my own.

My next project, not surprisingly, is a 4 issue comic story set in my universe. It's an original script I wrote for Dabel Brothers and Dynamite Entertainment. Forbidden is a Clay and Elena story and is due to start late this year.

I love writing comics because it really forces me to focus on showing instead of telling. My writing is already more action and dialogue focused, but writing scripts shows me that I still fall back on the crutch of telling far too often!

Marjorie, why don’t you tell me a little bit about your current comics projects? And do you find one form, novels or comics, easier to write?

Marjorie: At the moment I'm working on Black Widow, Dark Wolverine, and X-23. My hands are full! But I love writing comics -- because of the stories I get to tell, but also because of the medium. Collaborating with artists who can bring a story to life is incredibly exciting.

As for the rest, I'll always be a novelist first -- but I don't find writing comics to be that much easier. You still have to focus on telling the best story possible. I haven't found it all that difficult, either, to slip into the minds of the Marvel characters that I've been writing for the past couple years. The key, for me, is to find something really interesting about them, and then go from there. Luckily, these are characters that are quite complex in both history and personality, so getting excited about the adventures I can take them on hasn't been difficult.

Kelley, I have another question for you -- one of the most frequent craft-related questions I get asked by aspiring comic book writers is: "How do I write an interesting female character?" It doesn't matter how often I hear that question, it ALWAYS takes me off-guard. My gut response is, "Just write an interesting PERSON, and don't worry about gender." But I don't always know if that's the best answer. How would you (or how do you) respond to questions like that?”

Kelley: Well, I know I've had that question and tried a similar answer, and had the writer excitedly reply "So I can just take one of my guy characters and give him a woman's name?" Um, no. It's a little more complicated than that... The problem is that writers make it too complicated and tie themselves in knots worrying about sounding authentic. Guys will ask how they can create a female character if they themselves don't share similar experiences, like enjoying shopping and wearing high heels. I tell them I hate shopping and can't wear heels. In other words, drop the stereotypes, relax and just write characters the way you see them, male or female. Then get some beta readers of both genders to tell you when you go horribly awry!

Interested? Here are teasers for their new releases:

WAKING THE WITCH, by Kelley Armstrong:

Golden girl of the supernatural world, orphaned daughter of a dark witch and a conniving sorcerer, Savannah Levine has nothing to lose and everything to prove on her first solo case as a paranormal investigator.

She’s got a wide arsenal of spells at her fingertips, many that only she knows.
She’s got a tough-as-nails attitude and an even sharper wit.
She’s got one problem though . . . no one thinks she can handle this on her own.

Savannah has the power . . . and she’s not afraid to use it.

A WILD LIGHT, by Marjorie M. Liu:

Obsidian shadows of the flesh…tattoos with hearts, minds, and dreams. By day, they are my armor. By night, they unwind from my body to take on forms of their own—demons of the flesh, turned into flesh.

For too long Maxine Kiss has felt an inexplicable darkness around her—a force she channels into hunting the demons bent on destroying the human race. But when she finds herself covered in blood and crouched beside her grandfather’s dead body with no memory of what happened or of the man she loves, Maxine begins to fear that the darkness has finally consumed her.

With blood on her hands and her sanity in question, Maxine must face the truth about who she really is and embrace the love of the only man who can help her—before she loses what she cares about most: her family.

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