The YA world is certainly familiar with Marissa Meyer’s “Lunar Chronicles,” a sci-fi adaptation of fairy tales with cyborgs and mutant wolves. After five titles, a short story collection, and a coloring book, the author decided to expand the series with a graphic novel, Wires and Nerve (Feiwel & Friends; Jan. 31, 2017), centering on Cinder’s best friend, Iko. The author chats with SLJ about her inspiration, the importance of diversity, and her plans for the series.
Why did you decide to tell this story from Iko’s perspective? Will the rest of the volumes highlight her side of the story?
Yes, the second volume will remain in Iko’s point of view, though there are a handful of chapters throughout both books that focus on other characters. Generally, though, I knew from the start that this was going to be Iko’s story. She always thought she was the hero in the main books, so it was only fitting to let her shine on her own for once! I also loved the idea of being able to examine her backstory and how she became so different from other androids, and to also see how she changes after the events in Winter. I felt like she still had something to prove to the world, and it would be interesting to see how far she would go in her efforts to be seen and treated as a human.
Though this is a fun series about friendship, romance, and fairy tales, these books also touch upon serious issues, such as trauma, slavery, power in the wrong hands, and more. Why do you think YA—and this particular book—is the right vehicle for these topics?
I don’t really believe in sheltering our young people from horrible realities in the world—many of them are familiar with real-world trauma and problems, and it would be irresponsible of us to not have fiction available for them that allows them to explore these issues in a place outside of their own reality. That said, I don’t usually go into the writing process with these big, serious issues in mind, but they tend to be a natural byproduct of series that have epic, sweeping story lines, such as wars and revolutions. I aim to build a world that is interesting, exciting, and dramatic, and once those bigger themes start to reveal themselves, I do my best to give them the thought and respect they deserve.
What inspired you to continue the “Lunar Chronicles” in a graphic novel format?
Writing a graphic novel has been a dream of mine since I was a teenager. I love the format and the various storytelling options it offers, and I do think that some stories are better told with visual elements. I hadn’t planned a “Lunar Chronicles” graphic novel from the beginning, but as I was wrapping up the series in Winter, I started having ideas about a possible continuation—a story that would take place after the series finale and be a complete story in its own right. I knew there would be enough loose ends left in the books that I would have some conflict to work with, and I loved the idea of giving Iko, the fan-favorite android character, her own heroic tale. From the start, I was envisioning this spin-off story as a graphic novel and seeing it told in a visual format. I hoped it would be a good chance to further explore the themes of humanity that played a big part in the books and how much a physical body plays into our perception of being human, both with Iko’s androidness and the wolf-mutant soldiers she is hunting.
Did you work closely with Doug Holgate to create the art and plot out the panels? How did you decide to keep this in a monotone, two-color palette?
Not as close as I expected to! For the most part, I completed the script and handed it over to Doug, who then completed a series of sketches for me to review—and he was so amazing at nailing the artwork on the very first try that there needed to be very little back-and-forth. He really has a knack for bringing the artwork to life just how I envisioned it or implementing changes that make the story stronger and the world and characters more dynamic.
As for the two-color palette…. I’m not sure how that was decided! My publisher thought it was a smart choice for the story, and once I saw the initial colored pages, I fell in love.
I love the diversity of these characters. Why was that important for you to weave into the narrative?
When I first started writing the series, the importance of diversity in fiction wasn’t the big discussion topic that it is today. But back then, as now, it was important for me to write the world as realistically as possible, and, well, the world is made up of all people from all different ethnicities and backgrounds, so it seemed silly and narrow-minded to write a story that didn’t reflect that. I was aiming for authenticity and believed that creating a futuristic world in which prejudices tend to be toward cyborgs, androids, and Lunars, rather than [based on] race or culture, made sense.
Are there any more plans to expand the “Lunar Chronicles” universe?
With the exception of Wires and Nerve Vol. 2, which is scheduled to publish in early 2018, I don’t have any current plans to continue expanding this universe. However—I’ve said that before! But with a prequel novel, a short story collection, two graphic novels, and a coloring book having all grown beyond my original plans for the series, I’ve learned to never say never. If another idea struck me for this world and characters, I would definitely pursue it.
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