Monstress scribe Marjorie Liu earned a spotlight at NYCC today. During a panel centering on her work and career, she took fans through a tour of her career while previewing the upcoming The Night Eaters: She Eats The Night.
Liu began with a truncated review of how she broke into comics. She was first a lawyer who began writing romance and fantasy novels. As her writing gained traction, she approached Marvel at a comic con one year and pitched herself as a writer to them, which paid off three years later when she was put on NYX. After some more Marvel work, including writing for Astonishing X-Men and X-23, she was approached by Image about doing an independent comic, which became Monstress.
Liu and artist Sana Takeda had worked together before, and Liu approached Takeda about creating Monstress with her. Takeda “didn’t think [Liu] was serious at first.” After a few years of doing Monstress together, Takeda told Liu she wanted to work on other projects when not drawing Monstress. Her timing was perfect, for Liu had written a manuscript for The Night Eaters during the pandemic, and the two collaborated on bringing it to life on the page.
“What happens when an immigrant Chinese mother decides to teach her children a lesson inside of a haunted house” is Liu’s elevator pitch for The Night Eaters. “S--t happens – it’s not cute.” When writing the book, she wondered, “What would happen if my grandmothers and aunts met a ghost? It would be really bad – and not for them.”
Moderator and Abrams senior editor Charlotte Greenbaum received the manuscript out of the blue one Friday evening and she “read the whole thing and had a panic attack” immediately afterward. While the book is frightening, Liu “wanted it to end in a way that would not leave people feeling depressed.”
Racial identity plays a significant role in The Night Eaters and in Liu’s work. She described Monstress as “my chance to talk about my grandmother, race, trauma, and colonialism.” She talked about writing her fantasy stories about outcasts as a way of understanding her mixed-race identity. “I’ve always found it difficult to write about real life; it’s too raw… The Night Eaters is the closest I’ve ever come to writing a story dealing with real issues I’ve been faced with.”
Trauma was also a central theme of the talk. Liu said, “When I’m writing Maika and other characters… I’m trying to pick apart the silence and open them up because you can’t heal if you’re closed off.”
Toward the end of the talk, fans were given a sneak peek of the next book in the trilogy. Liu teased it by saying, “Sometimes we have a life-changing moment that is an invitation to become someone new, and we say, ‘no.’ And that’s sort of what the second book is about.”
The Night Eaters: She Eats the Night releases next week on 10/11.
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