Today Fantasy Literature is glad to host Gwenda Bond for another chat with Jana — this time, in celebration of Ms. Bond’s second novel in the DC Comics universe, Lois Lane: Double Down. She and Jana discuss authorial freedom, the most amazing detective trio in the history of head-canons, and bubbly drinks. One commenter with a U.S. mailing address will win a copy of Lois Lane: Double Down!
Jana Nyman: Writing within an established universe, with established characters, can’t be easy. How much leeway does DC Comics allow you with the Lois Lane novels? Do you have guidelines that you know you’ll have to work within, other than expected characterizations of Lois and Clark? Does someone at DC have to approve your manuscripts before they go to print, or are you relatively free to create and explore?
Gwenda Bond: I’ve been very lucky in the amount of freedom I’ve had to create the world of the books. I can’t think of any major changes or verboten things with either Fallout or Double Down. Now, if I was suggesting Lois and Clark go on a crime spree a la Bonnie and Clyde, the answer would be no way, obviously. But I feel like DC is rightfully very protective of these characters and, as a longtime fan of them (and Lois in particular), so am I. So we’ve all been on the same page all along, and wouldn’t want to do anything that wouldn’t feel organic to them. But it’s definitely been an honor and a treat to get to create new characters and pieces of such an established universe. And, yes, we work with an editor at Warner Brothers who signs off on everything.
Double Down builds on the foundation you laid down in Fallout: there are more characters, more moving parts, and your inclusion of this mysterious “TheInventor” person certainly complicates things. (Though, I will admit, I have my suspicions as to their true identity.) As you’re drawing in more elements of the comics and deepening teenage Lois’ world, how does your writing process become more complicated?
Well spotted! I definitely wanted the sequel to feel bigger and more complex; I wanted to challenge myself to weave in various plot threads so nothing felt like it was just treading water. Certainly there were days when I cursed myself for this! The writing was fun, but because of the complexity, the book needed to be longer and so I both stressed over the length (unnecessarily it turns out; the publisher was completely on board) and getting it in on time (again unnecessarily; the publisher kindly gave me a couple of extra weeks when I needed them most!). It all does become more complicated, but I felt like it was important to add in extra layers in the hope that I can explore them further in a future book. Fingers crossed!
Fingers and toes!
I love the way you write Lois’s interactions — not just with SmallvilleGuy, but with her group of friends, and her family members, as well. Thank you, of course, for writing Lois as a multi-faceted person, but also for giving her complex and realistic relationships. Why is it important to you, personally, to provide this for your readers?
Aw, thanks so much! I’m so glad that comes across. For me, a good sequel is always about deepening relationships and exploring characters more, and so I really chose the main plot elements of this book — both in terms of Lois and SmallvilleGuy and Lois in Metropolis — so that it would test Lois’s newfound friendships and her family dynamics in a realistic way. I personally feel that women and girls’ relationships in particular often take a backseat (or are absent entirely!) in so much of pop culture. It was important to me — and to my editor Beth, who was a huge help in pushing me on all this — that Lois have the doubts about how to be a good friend and a good sister and et cetera that all of us have. None of us have this stuff all figured out and so neither does Lois. Also, the kind of person Lois is, always getting involved and trying to do the right thing, means she’s going to struggle with balancing her relationships alongside that forever; the important thing though, is that she has them. A good Superman story is about connectedness, not isolation, to me.
By the way, did I spy a nod to one of my favorite detective shows, Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries? (If yes, hooray!) It definitely seems like the kind of TV show that would appeal to Lois, and I loved that it’s a way for her to bond with Lucy and their mother.
Yes! I fudged the decade to the 1930s instead of the 1920s so I could plausibly claim it was made up if anyone protested my referencing a real thing (sneaky, yes). But it made it through, so it’s totally Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries. In my dreams, there’s a crossover episode where young Lois, Miss Fisher and Agent Carter have to solve a mystery together. ;-)
That team-up hadn’t occurred to me until you mentioned it, but I’d watch an entire series built around that premise!
Last year you published two additional short stories, “Lois Lane: A Real Work of Art” and “Lois Lane: Cloudy with a Chance of Destruction,” and I liked that they functioned either as an introduction to the character for new readers or as a bridge between Fallout and Double Down for readers who found the year-long wait between books interminable. Do you think you’ll write more short stories about Lois’ escapades in the future?
I don’t know! Maybe if the publisher wanted me to, if there was another gap. We wanted to use those as an introduction to this Lois, so we didn’t do any this time around. So glad you enjoyed them though.
Good Lord willing and the creek don’t rise, to quote one of my fellow FanLit contributors, we’ll soon be hearing news about Lois Lane: Book Three. What adventures would you most like to tackle with Lois?
I definitely have a story I’d love to tell in book three. It’s not a done deal at this point. So just recommend the first two to everyone! We would all like there to be, but it’s one of those “wait and see if the demand is there” situations. I swear I would not toy with people’s emotions, so I’m being completely straightforward about it. Buy the books!
I feel like I’m in such a lucky place at the moment. I am truly invested in everything I’m working on. But I’m probably most excited about Girl Over Paris, a bridging comic book miniseries set between Girl on a Wire and Girl in the Shadows (which are companion novels — GitS will be out in July 2016, along with the comic), which takes place in my Cirque American world. I’m getting to work with two of my comic heroes, Kate Leth and Ming Doyle, on it and they are blowing my mind on a daily basis. Besides that, my husband and I are about to get edits on the first of the middle grade series set at a hotel for supernatural creatures in New York that we co-wrote together and I can’t wait to get back to that world; it’s so fun.
The series with your husband sounds like so much fun, and I’m really excited to learn more about the comic. The initial art I’ve seen is fantastic!
As you know, a feature of our Author Interviews at Fantasy Literature is that we like to ask authors about their favorite drink recipes — either as they relate to the author’s creative process (as a relaxation aid while writing, for example) or something involved with their work. Last time, you mentioned how much you like champagne cocktails; has that changed since our last chat?
Ha! I have an update. I believe I have successfully lobbied Joseph-Beth Booksellers where aforementioned husband Christopher works to add a “Gwenda” to their menu; it’ll be a French 75.
Congratulations, and thank you so much for your time, Ms. Bond!
Readers, comment below for a chance to win a copy of Lois Lane: Double Down. U.S.-based addresses only, please.