Marjorie M. Liu was already an accomplished novelist before she decided to pursue writing comic books. After writing the X-Men tie-in novel Dark Mirror, Liu wrote the series NYX: No Way Home for Marvel Comics. From there she co-wrote Daken: Dark Wolverine with Daniel Way and now writes the ongoing series X-23. At this year’s San Diego Comic-Con I got a few minutes to sit down with Marjorie Liu to talk about X-23 and her many novels.
POP CULTURE ZOO: Thank you very much for your time.
MARJORIE LIU: Thank you!
PCZ: Is this the first Comic-Con you’ve been to?
ML: No, and to be honest with you, I can’t remember how many years I’ve been coming. I think it’s possibly 4? That sounds like the right number, but it could be a little bit more than that.
PCZ: What do you think of the show this year so far?
ML: I love it! Although honestly I haven’t seen much of it, because I’ve just been running to appointments and panels and so, Saturday and Sunday will be my day to run around the floor, explore, shop and just do my thing.
PCZ: Well, at least you get some time to kind of have fun.
ML: Unlike last year! Last year was packed!
PCZ: And so you’re here the whole time?
ML: Yes, I am.
PCZ: Oh good, good.
ML: For better or for worse!
PCZ: [laughter] Exactly! So we’ll start off with X-23. I know that the character is essentially a female clone of Wolverine, but for you, what makes her different than just a female Wolverine?
ML: Oh, everything! I mean, yes, she was cloned from Wolverine, but her life has been radically different. Wolverine – yes, he was in a lab, but he was not raised in a lab. She, for the early part of her life, all she knew was a lab, scientists; she was experimented on, horrible things were done to her. Then she escaped. She had another – one more horrible encounter after another, so she never really had a chance to just be herself and to know who she was. Unlike Wolverine, I mean, he may have lost his memories, but for the most part as a grown man, he knew who he was. And X-23 is still trying to figure that out.
PCZ: Do you have some pretty good long term plans on the book?
ML: I do. And I’m excited.
PCZ: So you’re going to be on there for a while!
ML: Yes! Yes.
PCZ: Excellent. And I see in an upcoming issue, you get to play around with Spider-Man and the FF for a little bit.
ML: Oh, that’s coming up… either this month or next. I can’t remember, but yeah. She comes back to New York. The goal was to bring her into the larger Marvel universe. Up until this point she’s dealt mostly with the X-Men or those characters, but now, it’s a big world, and she has more in common with people out there – the Fantastic Four and Spider-Man than what some might think. So it’s been really interesting exploring those relationships.
PCZ: Are you getting to choose who you want to play with in the book?
ML: Actually, I’ve been very fortunate to be able to play with certain characters. Every now and then I’m told, “Meh, there’d be some… you just can’t… don’t really go there.” I’ve been very fortunate to have mostly free rein. So yeah, getting a chance to write The Fantastic Four again, ’cause I did in Dark Wolverine, but doing it now? With X-23? Oh… and working with Spider-Man? Oh! So much fun! I love it!
PCZ: Do you find with Spider-Man and Fantastic Four, that those characters are easy to bring into her world?
ML: Yeah, it’s been easier to bring them into her world than it has been to write them. So yeah, that’s one way of putting it.
PCZ: Has it been at all, not really difficult, but interesting, trying to change gears and find their voices?
ML: A little bit. A little bit. In some ways, when I wrote The Fantastic Four in Dark Wolverine, it wasn’t that difficult to find their voices, because I think it’s because they were bouncing off of Daken. It was the dynamic. It made the story interesting to write and it just seemed to flow. With X-23, it’s not that it’s been difficult, but the dynamic is different. And so I’ve had to sit back and sort of meditate on it a little bit more, and think about how they would react to her. Um. So it’s all good.
PCZ: And so X-23 has crossed over with Daken. Is that something you guys plan on continuing into the future?
ML: Yes. I think so, hopefully, we’ll see.
PCZ: We’re not going to go into anything you can’t talk about.
ML: Oh yeah… [chuckles]
PCZ: You’ve got panels coming up this weekend, but they haven’t happened yet, so I feel like I can’t really ask you, “Do you have any interesting things that you can talk about?” because…
ML: No, not really. Unfortunately.
PCZ: But it’s good to see you that you’re still going to be a strong, driving force in the X-Men world.
ML: Well, at least in X-23, and that’s a real joy. I love writing that book.
PCZ: You’re one of many women writers that Marvel has employed, and it seems like Marvel has been really progressive in bringing in women writers. Do you feel proud? That you’re part of that movement, the women in Marvel?
ML: Well, of course. I just feel very fortunate that I can do what I love. I get to write novels, I also get to write comics. And really, it’s a wonderful thing.
PCZ: So writing a monthly issue, and then doing a novel series that basically has a book a year, how do you balance that?
ML: Actually, I write about 2 or 3 novels a year. But it’s all story telling. And I just word hard, that’s all.
PCZ: Do you find there’s elements when you’re writing one of your novels, that you’re like, “You know that would be perfect for X-23, maybe I should borrow that?”
ML: You know, I actually don’t. I write a lot of urban fantasy, and paranormal romance. And I write mysteries every now and then. But actually, no, the stories are so radically different, that I haven’t had that need to feel like I need to hold something back for one or the other.
PCZ: And Dirk & Steele is your main novel series?
ML: It’s my paranormal romance series. But I also write the Hunter Kiss series, which is urban fantasy. And then next year I’m coming out with a mystery series. And I’m also launching a new paranormal romance series next year as well.
PCZ: Not vampires, I hope, right? [laughs]
ML: There will be vampires in the book! It’s set it post-apocalyptic landscape – and alternate dimension, where humans control a vast army that hunts vampires and werewolves and other monsters.
PCZ: Now I’m on board for that. That’s awesome! That sounds great.
ML: Thank you!
PCZ: I have to confess, I haven’t read your novels yet. But I thought it was refreshing that you have a paranormal romance series, but it’s not vampires and werewolves. It’s shapeshifters…
ML: No, it’s shapeshifters, gargoyles, mermen…
PCZ: Yeah! You get to play with the ones people leave alone! It’s like, those are the cool ones!
ML: Thank you! I love it.
PCZ: So you’re continuing with the Dirk & Steele, obviously?
ML: The next book comes out, I think in November, and it’s called Within the Flames, and it’s about a man who can control fire with his mind, and about a woman who’s a dragon shapeshifter who also has issues with fire. And .. some other problems as well.
PCZ: Awesome, well thank you very much for your time. Enjoy the rest of the con. And good luck on the panels!
ML: Thank you!