X-POSITION: NYX's Marjorie Liu

Living on the streets is hard - there's no two ways about it. For those who struggle with this lifestyle, it's cold, filled with hungry days (and nights), and dangerous. And in the Marvel Universe, being homeless becomes infinitely worse if you happen to belong to that segment of humanity that society is already apprehensive of. Put simply, being a mutant on the streets sucks.

This is the dilemma facing the characters of "NYX: No Way Home." This is the second "NYX" miniseries, the first being a 2003 seven-issue miniseries written by Marvel's EIC Joe Quesada. This time around, the series is being scripted by novelist Marjorie Liu ("Dirk & Steele") with art by Kalman Andrasofszky ("Legion of Monsters: Satana").

"NYX: No Way Home" #1 arrived in stores last Wednesday (August 6th), so Marjorie joins us for today's X-POSITION to answer your questions about the mutants living the "hard-knock life." As this is the writer's first exposure to X-fandom, I'll kick things off with a few questions of my own...

Since this is the first comic you've written, were there any challenges or surprises in your first venture in the comic book format? What do you feel are the main differences in writing for novels versus writing for comics?

I expected that writing my first comic would be a challenge, and it was...and is still. I love it, which makes it a lot easier, as does the fact that I keep reminding myself that storytelling is storytelling, no matter the genre - but it took some adjustments to get used to the script format, and how that affects the flow of a story. That, and how best to use the visual medium - not to mention pacing, character development, dialogue - the same problems that face any writer. I've had a lot of support and encouragement though from all corners of Marvel - especially Kalman Andrasofszky and editors John Barber and Michael Horwitz.

This isn't your first exposure to Marvel's mutants, as you've also written the novel "X-Men: Dark Mirror." Were you previously a big X-Men fan? Was there a learning curve when writing them? Or did you find the characters' "voices" fairly quickly?

I've been a huge X-Men fan for years and years, at times more obsessive than others, so in some ways it was fairly easy to find their voices, relatively speaking. Capturing the essence of characters so deeply entrenched in public consciousness isn't exactly a walk in the park. On the other hand, the X-Men have been around for such a long time, in so many various formats, they practically have a life of their own. I'd like to imagine that I was able to tap into that for a (hopefully) entertaining story.

How did you get this gig and how familiar were you with "NYX"?

I was a fan of the original run, and was sorry that it ended after only seven issues. I didn't think, however, that I'd ever have a chance to continue it, which has been...wild. Getting this gig was also an adventure, though fairly laid back. I wrote the X-Men novel, "Dark Mirror," which was well-received - and because of that, I gathered up my courage and inquired about doing more. Three years later, here I am.

I hear you attended Comic-Con International. Was this your first? What were your thoughts? Any funny anecdotes...please?

Second Comic-Con. Loved it, as always. It's the only place where you can witness Big Damn Apes beating a guy with pain sticks - and then hear the victim ask for more, along with a picture.

Ah, Comic-Con - no other experience in the world can beat it (with or without pain sticks). Mufasahasa will now kick things off for you, the readers, with a simple question that everyone wants to know.

Hey Marjorie! Will we find out more about what Katie and the gang have been up to since the last "NYX"?

Nothing explicitly will be said. What's implied - and what I feel would be a fairly normal response from your average smart kid - is that they've spent the time since the last "NYX" simply regrouping, and figuring out a routine that keeps them safe, spunky, and happy.

And on that note, Chickrockguitar was curious about a character from the last "NYX" who was anything but "safe, spunky, and happy."

Will we hear or see anything of X-23 (Laura Kinney) in this mini, as she was a major character in the first series?

Nope. Not exactly.

Not exactly? Hm.

Moving along, Todd was wondering about the tone of this new miniseries. Maybe you could help him out...

It's weird that the NYX kids have changed from street urchins to something more "normal." Was this your idea? Or did Marvel decide to do away with the "edge" factor?

I had free rein to do what I wanted. And I suppose this all depends on your definition of street urchin (or what's normal). As far as I'm concerned, kids who live on the edges of society are just as normal as mainstream kids, in that they need the same basic things: food, shelter, affection. The difference is that street kids, if they want to survive, are usually more mature about certain things that most people take for granted - and, furthermore, are quick to read people, and not at all quick to trust.

I'm not about to romanticize homelessness, because it's not fun. It's dangerous, and it takes a lot of planning and energy to get through the days and nights without losing your dignity or your life. Very few, if any, kids want to live like that, and if they are in that situation, there's a reason that is so compelling to that individual, that the alternative - going home, for example - is unthinkable.

So, no, I don't think it's weird that Kiden, Bobby, and Tatiana are holding minimum wage jobs and trying to make rent. I think they're smart kids, and they want some stability in their lives; especially Bobby - who has his little brother to look after - and Tatiana, who came from a fairly stable home and is probably horrified at the prospect of living on the streets.

Next up is Andre4000, who has some questions about how NYX fits into the overall Marvel Universe.

1) As the original series took place before M-Day, how has the world changed for these kids?

The kids were always at the bottom rung of society, completely off the radar, and being a mutant was secondary to working for the basics of life. When you got nothing, you have nothing to lose.

2) I don't know if Marjorie can answer this, but when Cyclops broadcast his "sanctuary" message in "Uncanny" #500, didn't the NYX kids hear it? Why wouldn't they take advantage of his offer?

These six issues take place before "Uncanny" #500.

3) Will any X-Men, Marvel heroes or villains be appearing in this series?

I guess that depends if the series runs past six issues!

A lot is riding on these six issues, it seems. Kliman had some more specific questions about story points from issue #1. Can you give him a hand...or a hint?

1) The first issue was cool and kinda crazy. How soon do we find out why Kiden is all tied up? Was this done by someone we met in the previous series, or is it a brand new danger?

Brand new danger. And the why and how will be fed to you slowly. Seeing Kiden in that terrible situation was not done for simple shock value. It's symptomatic of a larger problem that she may never be able to fix - no matter how hard she, or the people who love her, try. Not everyone has a happy ending.

2) I was wondering about the end of the issue too. Do we know that Cameron is dead? If not, it seems like there's a lot of blood around that apartment...

Oh, you'll see. But I wouldn't start writing Cameron's obituary quite yet.

And let's finish up today's X-POSITION with a little writing lesson, courtesy of this email from Aspbros:

Marjorie, you've written a lot of good novels, and I'm an aspiring writer. Do you have any tips for writing? Especially if you're the kind of person who gets distracted a lot?

First of all, thank you! As for tips, I've got two different trains of thought. First, in general, you can't do much better than devote your spare time to reading. And I mean, read a lot. Read everything. Read comic books, mysteries, romances, science fiction - read biographies, histories, newspapers and magazines - don't limit yourself. Fall in love with words. And then write.

Write bad, write good, learn how to revise and take criticism - but don't give up. And if you do give up, then take it as a sign that writing professionally just isn't your gig. This business is tough, and you have to want it so badly that nothing will stop you.

Getting distracted is another matter entirely. I'm totally like that. Set me after a butterfly, and I might just change direction and chase a bumblebee instead. At some point though, you have to buckle down. I don't know any exercises or words of wisdom to help with that, either.

A story has to be finished, and no matter how distracted you get, you need to force yourself to forge ahead, word by word. If your idea is boring though, and that's why you're easy to distract...well, that's a really fantastic reason for not being able to focus on the task at hand! In that case, head back to the drawing board. And again, don't give up!

Thanks for the motivating talk, Marjorie!

That wraps up this week's confab, but we'll be back in a mere seven days with more fun. Joining us for our next X-POSITION are two "classy" fellows: writers Jeff Parker ("X-Men: First Class") and Fred Van Lente ("Wolverine: First Class").

Think up some clever and interesting queries, and email them my way as soon as you can. If you put "X-Position" in the subject line, the odds of having your question asked increase 100% - no joke! See you for lots of fun (and a little chaos) soon.

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