Dirk & Steele

Some months ago, Victoria asked: “Have you stopped writing your Dirk & Steele novels? If not when will the next book be coming out?”

The Dirk & Steele novels, for those unfamiliar with them, are part of a paranormal romance series that I wrote from 2005 to 2011. There are eleven novels total, and they’re about shape-shifters, mermen, psychics, gargoyles, witches — solving crime, falling in love, finding acceptance.  All set in our modern, contemporary world.

I loved writing them. And I would love to say that I haven’t stopped writing them, but the truth is that the publisher wasn’t all that interested in continuing the series.  They wanted me to do something new.  Which was about to happen, back in 2011 or so, but then my life turned topsy-turvy, I quit writing novels for a couple years (burned out, exhausted), and in that intervening time I moved on to other things.

Every now and then I think, “yes, let me return — there are still characters I love, ideas that I never was able to explore,” but realistically, I don’t know if that will happen.  I’m working on a novel, but it’s very different from my other work, partially because I’m different. I’m not the same person I was five or six years ago.  My voice as a writer has changed.  Also, I’m swamped.  I’ve got four different projects I’m working on, all near and dear to my heart. There just isn’t space right now to go back.

Sometimes, as writers, we have to let go — even when there’s unfinished business.  Maybe one day I’ll find the head and heart-space to return to Dirk & Steele, but if I do, I suspect the series will look very different.

Oh, but for fans of the first novel, Tiger Eye, check out the video game that was made, based off the book.  Part 1 is Tiger Eye: Curse of the Riddle Box and Part 2 is Tiger Eye: The Sacrifice.  I know it sounds crazy, but I always forget these exist, so when I do remember I’m very proud of myself for recalling the obvious.

Oh, and years ago Kalman Andrasofszky (we worked together on NYX) created some amazing illustrations for a few of my novels.  Here’s the only one he did for the Dirk & Steele series; specifically, The Fire King.

thefireking

 

 

 

 

One book enters, another must leave.

Right, so here’s a little confession: I’ve been having a really difficult time reading.  It wasn’t something I was entirely conscious of — deep down, it wasn’t even anything I wanted to think about, though I’d sometimes glance at the growing stack of books on the coffee table and think, “Wow, why haven’t I started in on these treasures?”

For me, that’s crazy: my life has always been 70% books, 10% breathing, and 20% some-other-necessary-to-life act — like eating.  But in the last year, I just haven’t read all that much.  That didn’t stop me from buying books, but they sat there like broken promises.

There’s a side story to this. There used to be so many books in our small apartment that we began having trouble walking.  I mean, it’s not like we had actual book tunnels, but we had a book fort — towers of books in deep layers pressed against the bookshelves — books underneath tables, books stacked along the walls, books in the kitchen (there are still books in the kitchen), books stacked against chairs — you get the idea.  Books, everywhere.  For book people, that should have been heaven, but we came back from a two month trip to Japan and couldn’t get our luggage into the living room without causing an actual avalanche that set off a chain reaction book slide that you don’t want to imagine, and that’s when we decided that something had to change.

In one week, we packed fifty boxes of books.  Fifty.  Cleared up the floor, finally saw the walls again, were able to move some chairs — we found ourselves with more square footage, certainly.  And there were still plenty of books in the apartment. In fact, removing fifty boxes of books and taking them to storage only made the slightest of dents. But it was enough.

We also instituted a “one book in, one book out” rule.

That was difficult for me.  I won’t lie. I had a moment when I felt emotionally weak, like a security blanket was being ripped away from me…and I thought, “Wow, what’s that about?”  Books, being surrounded by books, buried by books, swallowed by books — words, paper, story — has always been a safe space for me.  But there are other ways to feel safe, I realized, and I was finally able to let that go. More or less.

Still, the “one book in, one book out” rule has meant a more thoughtful approach to buying books (and going to the library).  One book enters, another must leave.  You find out real quick what your favorites are (and we’re cheating a little, because some of the books that “go” end up at the university office where there’s still a lot of shelf space).

But what does that have to do with not reading?   Well, all this book drama aside, reading was making me tired.  For the last year or so, I found that I could not sustain the energy needed to be in a book. Which, again, was REALLY strange and disturbing. That’s not me.  I told myself I was distracted, had too much work on my plate, stress from launching Monstress — pfft, you get the drift.

Well, a week ago I was on Amazon and saw some recent romance novel releases that I was into — but getting the books would have meant shoving some out the door, and I honestly didn’t know what could go next.

Handily, there was also a link staring at me for a Kindle device . And I thought, “Okay, why not?”  Years ago, I had a Kindle — years and years ago — and I used it for a while, but paper was better.  And since then I’ve used the Kindle app on my phone, iPad, computer — but sometimes it would crash and staring at the screen for all the hours I like to read was headache-inducing.

But here was an updated Kindle with some interesting-sounding-technology, and better yet, the books wouldn’t take up any space.  So I got the damned thing, it arrived two days later, I uploaded Sarah MacLean’s The Rogue Not Taken

…and I read the book straight through in one day.  Which hasn’t happened in a long, long time.

Now, The Rogue Not Taken just happens to be a very, very good historical romance. But I’ve read very, very good historical romances and still have had trouble finishing them because of this whole, “I’m tiiired” feeling that sweeps through me.

What I realized, however — as I was devouring this book on my Kindle — is that I’m getting old.  Like, for real.   That was my actual come-to-Jesus-moment.  I realized, suddenly, that I was becoming all worn out and discouraged (poor me, the terrible effort) while reading physical books because (and here, I simply theorize) the print was too little, the light too poor, my weak feeble writer’s wrists were too frail to hold a tiny paperback…

…but on the Kindle, none of that was a problem. The print was comfortable, evenly spaced — light wasn’t an issue — the device was barely-there and fit in my hands.  I more or less curled up around it, and never once felt distracted.  I never had to squint.  My arms, fingers, hands, didn’t start to ache.  I read while blow-drying my hair (you can’t lose the page when you let go), I read while in bed (no need to turn on the side lamp), I read and read and read.

I felt like a new person, afterward.  Amazing, how that happens, when one reads.

I didn’t particularly want to be a someone who reads on a device — I love holding a book, I love seeing books — I don’t feel as though a book is truly mine unless it’s a physical object in my hands.  But man, I gotta read.  And if this is the way I can finally bring that back into my life again, so be it. Because my head was getting pretty dusty and empty without the joy that books bring me. I just couldn’t enjoy them anymore. My body was distracting me from the mental space needed to be fully engaged and present in the story.

This, by the way, is not an actual endorsement of the Kindle — I have no interest in pushing anything.  It’s just me, being very happy to discover that I haven’t been suffering from some terrible mental infirmity that was preventing me from enjoying books the way I used to.  Apparently, I’m just not the spry young thing I used to be.

Of course, I still have a pile of physical books I need to read, but maybe I’ll just have to bite the bullet and put them on my device.  I’ll worry about that later.  For now, I have a Larry Brown novel to devour.

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Monstress [media + signings]

Monstress comes out TOMORROW, and I totally feel those butterflies, that nervous flightiness that I haven’t felt in some time.  I care about this book — a lot — and it represents the collective hard work of a small, dedicated team of writer, artist, editor, letter, translator (and, fairly new to us, intern).  Your support of Monstress — you readers, retailers, peers, friends, family — means the world to us.  Thank you, thank you, thank you.

I’ve been doing a ton of interviews, and some reviews are finally popping up.  This, from Vox.com is probably one of the nicest I’ve ever received, and hits home what Monstress is about (“The dazzling new comic Monstress explores why we fear powerful women…”).

Another recent interview is with The Beat — I discuss Monstress, diversity, and what it means to be an Asian American writer.  In that same vein is this two-part interview with Nerds of Color.  You can read Parts One and Two, respectively (“You know how kids get obsessed with different things? Some kids get obsessed with vampires, some get obsessed with zombies. I was really obsessed with the apocalypse. I always thought it was just around the corner. Part of that is from my grandparents, growing up in the ‘80s, listening to the news about the Cold War and all of that. The apocalypse was on my mind.”).

Finally, I’ve got two back-to-back signings this weekend:

  • On November 7th I’ll be signing at Comicopia @ 464 Commonwealth Avenue in Boston from 1-3 pm.
  • On November 8th I’ll be signing at Midtown Comics @ 64 Fulton Street from 1:30 – 2:30 pm.

I’ll have buttons to give away!  And in a week or so I’ll announce two more signings — one in Austin, Texas — and the other in Muncie, Indiana.

Thanks again, everyone!  We love you all!

I hung out with my other boyfriend today. Shhh!

A photo posted by Marjorie Liu (@marjorie_liu) on

Busy, but not defeated!

It’s been one of those weeks where I’m overwhelmed with work, and even though crawling under a rock isn’t an option — I totally want to crawl under a rock.  The Pallas cat pictured below — that face — more or less summed up how I felt when I rolled out of bed this morning.  But, then I took a nice walk — I had some tea — ate lunch at my favorite spot — met my wonderful new Chinese tutor (because my Mandarin has gotten way too rusty) — and just told myself to chill the hell out.

And it worked.  I am chillin’.  And working.  And still chillin’.   Let’s see what tomorrow brings!

My mood, right now, for this whole week.

A photo posted by Marjorie Liu (@marjorie_liu) on

NYCC Schedule

Well, NYCC is literally around the corner.  I’ll be on panels for almost all of Friday, so the best time to catch me if you want something signed is at the Image booth at 11 am that day.  I will, however, be at my table (K2) in Artists Alley for almost all of Saturday.  Sunday, I have to head back to Boston that morning.   It’s a short trip, but packed to the gills.  I’ll be signing posters at my table (and I might have a few other goodies), so stop by and say hi on Saturday!

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Friday: 11 am signing @ the Image Booth #1544

Title: Image Comics: Where Creators Own Worlds
Day:
Friday Time: 12:15 PM – 1:15 PM
Location: Room 1A21
Speakers: Declan Shalvey   Jim Zub   John Arcudi   Marjorie Liu
Description: The beauty of comics is that they can transport you to another place, if you’ll let them. The comics of John Arcudi (Rumble), Marjorie Liu (Monstress), Declan Shalvey (Injection) and Jim Zub (Wayward) show us worlds as fantastic as any summer blockbuster, but executed so well that they burn themselves into your memory.

Title: Asian American Comics and Creators
Day:
Friday Time: 3:00 PM – 4:00 PM
Location: Room 1A05
Speakers: Amy Chu   Ethan Young   Greg Pak   Janice Chiang   Larry Hama   Marjorie Liu   Wendy Xu
Description: A superstar Panel discusses the past, present and wildly exciting future of Asian American comics and creators! Featuring Greg Pak (co-creator of Amadeus Cho and writer of KINGSWAY WEST), Marjorie Liu (MONSTRESS), Amy Chu (POISON IVY), Ethan Young (NANJING: THE BURNING CITY), the legendary Larry Hama (G.I. JOE), letterer Janice Chiang and Wendy Xu (SPELLS FOR SPIRITS, LLP). Also, exclusive sneak peeks of upcoming books and tons of free comics!

Title: Push Boundaries Forward: Gender, Diversity and Representation in Comic Books
Day:
Friday Time: 5:15 PM – 6:15 PM
Location: Room 1A24
Speakers: Amber Garza   Darryl Ayo   David Brothers   Jeremy Whitley   Joey Stern   Marjorie Liu   Shannon Watters
Description: The face of comics is changing. Join a diverse Panel examining what indie/web publishing have been doing right, how mainstream comics can catch up and what Creators and Fans can do to be heard. Join Moderator David Brothers and Panelists Marjorie Liu, Shannon Watters, Jeremy Whitley, Amber Garza, Joey Stern and Darryl Ayo in a sincere, thoughtful discussion on the topic of gender, diversity and representation in mainstream comics.