Marjorie M. Liu is a New York Times best-selling author, hot comic book writer, and – how awesome is this? – longtime Stargate fan (and T.J./Varro shipper if the rumors are to be believed). Her contribution to the Masked anthology, “Call Her Savage”, is grand and thoroughly absorbing, an alternate history tale with one of the most kick-ass yet compelling of heroines. And, today, Marjorie swings by to offer up a little insight into her terrific story…
I’m in China at the moment. I’ve been in Beijing for about a month, and I’m heading back to the United States next week. Thirteen hours in a plane is all it takes to cover a distance that would have been unimaginable even just a hundred years ago. Oh, sure, people were getting around — but it was a different kind of adventure. You had to really travel to get places. You had to work at it, and be driven by some compelling spirit and fire — need, or just curiosity. To explore the world required risks that most of us modern-day travelers would never contemplate.
Recently at a party the hostess asked everyone to name their favorite explorer. I thought for a bit, and honestly couldn’t narrow it down to one name. I mean, really. We’re talking the countless dead and living — Leif Ericson, Ferdinand Magellan, Neil Armstrong, Columbus — a handful of names to reflect the entire human history of men and women who were going places. Going places when all they had were their own two feet and a sense of direction.
Badasses, every one of them. Heck, mummies found in Xinjiang show that the Celts were in China three thousand years ago. And that’s just one burial site. The world is probably one giant grave of human exploration.
You can’t kill the spirit of adventure. You can’t keep a curious person down. You really can’t. And that’s beautiful and wonderful, and thrilling. It also forms the root of my story, ‘Call Her Savage’.
Six centuries ago, China sent out an armada of massive ships — the largest of which was almost five times the size of the Santa Maria, the vessel used by Columbus. Loaded down with treasure, this armada had a mission to find trading partners. Explore, see the world, get rich. Not a bad motivation.
There were seven expeditions. The armada sailed to the Persian Gulf, East Africa…and there’s evidence, too, that the Chinese reached North America, almost seventy years before Columbus. Based on the discovery of certain maps, some suggest that the Chinese discovered North America even thousands of years before that.
Who knows? Let’s say that’s true. Or let’s say it only happened in 1421. The premise of my story in MASKED is that the Chinese did, in fact, make landfall. Specifically on the west coast of North America. And then they colonized it.
Imagining that — and the potential differences between Chinese and European colonization — fascinates me. Would the Chinese have gotten on differently with the Native Americans than the Europeans did? Perhaps, if only because there was no divine mission on the part of the Chinese. But, again, who knows what would have happened?
‘Call Her Savage’ takes place after the American Revolution, which assumes that the British settled the eastern seaboard right on schedule. China rules the west, and has allied itself with the colonists. Which means the frontier is open, known.
The American Revolution. The American West. This is where American heroes were born. Men and women who became legends. Men and women who were very human.
But in my alternate world, some of them are more than human.
Like Namid MacNamara. Born a little different from everyone else. Using her extra power to be the very reluctant heroine of the thirteen colonies that are trying to break free of the British Empire.
She doesn’t wear a cape, but she’s got a gold star.
I’d like to thank Lou Anders for inviting me to participate in this anthology, especially with such wonderful writers involved. I loved the premise from the beginning, and knowing the company I would keep made it even sweeter. I haven’t been writing comics for long — novels are my trade — but I have a very deep soft spot for superheroes, and when you’ve got love to spare, you better share.
A big thanks to Marjorie for taking the time.
And a big thanks to those who posted questions and comments on the collection. I’ll be forwarding your questions this weekend to authors Marjorie M. Liu, Gail Simone, Daryl Gregory, Mark Chadbourn, Matthew Sturges, James Maxey, and Paul Cornell, as well as editor Lou Anders. And if you’re still sitting on a few questions, there’s still time to post ’em!
Speaking of Masked, may I direct you to a few Masked-related links.
The first, is an interview with our tireless editor, Lou Anders, over at Newsarama.com: http://www.newsarama.com/comics/superhero-prose-anthology-masked-100914.html,
While the other is a fun fan-review over here: http://nicoleandmaggie.wordpress.com/2010/09/17/holy-short-stories-batman/
Now, onto those super-secret production pics –
Finally – I received an email from a blog regular who wrote me on behalf of a friend seeking help to defray the costs of a surgical procedure for her dog, Oreo. Being the owner of a pack of needy dogs, all of whom have required at least one surgical procedure at some point, I can empathize. So, rather than simply forwarding the email along, I thought I’d post it here on the blog to give it a little more exposure…
“I’m writing to you to ask you for some help for my dear friend Beatriz Flamenco who lives in Houston. Her dog, Oreo (see attached photos), who is only 4 years old, needs to have orthopedic surgery on both his hind legs, which will be very expensive. Oreo is in considerable pain and this needs to get done as soon as possible. Beatriz does not have the money to have it done and she is desperate for financial help. If you can contribute anything at all, it would be so appreciated. If you need further information, please do not hesitate to contact me or Beatriz.