Today I welcome Gwenda Bond for her third interview with Fantasy Literature. We’re celebrating the release of Lois Lane: Triple Threat, which, in my review, I called “excellent,” “enjoyable,” and “sweetly awkward.” Today Ms. Bond provides insight into her writing process, the pressure of writing the perfect first date, and toasting Pele.
One random commenter with a U.S. mailing address will win a copy of Lois Lane: Triple Threat!
Jana Nyman: There’s a satisfying level of consistency across the books and short stories comprising your LOIS LANE series — not only with regard to events and character backgrounds, but also Lois’ narrative voice. When I’ve gone back and re-read Fallout and Double Down, there’s a clear line linking each book to the next, and there aren’t any instances of retconning or authorial “oopsies.” How do you maintain consistency for yourself, to make sure you don’t accidentally change someone’s backstory or prior events?
Gwenda Bond: I’m laughing — and I’m so glad that’s true! Partly, I think it’s because I had so much freedom to invent the backstories and characters and — to an extent — even my version of Metropolis. So it feels second nature in a way. For each book, I had a vague idea of where I would go if I got to write another one. And that consistency you mention is important to me as a writer; I like to pick up a series book and have it *feel* right as a reader (while still including some surprises, of course), which means it is definitely something I think about. Lois’s voice flows for me, so that part was easy. In fact, Lois’s class schedule was probably the hardest to keep track of — and days of the week. It’s the little things. And, actually, my editor came up with the idea to jump the third book forward six months in edits so we could have baseball when yours truly did not know baseball season couldn’t happen six weeks after the end of Double Down. So I also give tremendous credit to my editor Beth Brezenoff too, who never hesitates to say “this doesn’t sound/feel like Lois” when she needs to.
How do you get yourself in the mindset for writing as Lois Lane? Do you have a certain routine when you sit down to write each book in order to make sure you maintain character backgrounds and histories, as well as ensuring that Lois always sounds the same?
I wish I had a good answer for this, but Lois’s voice has always just been there. At least, she’s been there since I cracked what she sounded like in chapter one of Fallout (which did have a few false starts). It proved much harder for me to shake the voice off and work on other things at the same time! I suspect it’s because there’s a lot of me in the Lois I write, or at least my interests and obsessions, and so getting into the rhythm of Lois’s voice is easy. Also, I find I eat even more pizza than normal while writing Lois. Lois is always thinking about pizza. Or I am. Or we both are. Which came first — the pizza or Lois? That’s the real question.
Oh, that’s a tough one. And I find myself craving pepperoni pizza while reading your LOIS LANE books, so there’s definitely something infectious about it.
In Lois Lane: Triple Threat, you included Lois and Clark’s first in-person meet-up, along with some subsequent interactions, which I thought were well-done and very true to this reader’s expectations. There had to be a lot of pressure on you to get it right, especially since you’ve been building toward it over the last two books, and so many aspects of their adult relationship is already canon. Did their ideal date present itself to you right away, or did it require a fair amount of re-writes before you were happy?
It’s so funny, because there is a lot of pressure. And I’m so happy it lived up to your expectations. But at a certain point when it’s just me and the page, I am trying to write what delights me and hope that it delights readers too — if I thought too much about the weight of anyone’s expectations I think I’d freeze up. For me, the relief was knowing that Clark would be in the book — I’m not sure I could have satisfied anyone if I had to keep him off the page for another book. It was time for them to meet. And, gah, writing a first date for Lois and Clark is like a writer bucket list item.
Anyway, when I’m writing a draft, I generally don’t show much of it to anyone. But I do remember the day I wrote Lois and Clark’s first date. I printed the pages off and had Christopher (my husband, who I also co-write a new middle grade series with) read them completely out of context, just knowing it was the date. He hates it when I do this, not because he minds reading but because usually I stand over him watching his reactions. His reactions let me know I had it pretty much right.
I’m so glad to hear that.
Dabney Donovan and Cadmus Labs have become a new kind of Big Bad within DC Comics, sometimes uniting traditional foes like Superman and Lex Luthor in opposition to Donovan’s mad schemes. It’s fascinating that you’ve made Lois Lane an object of his obsession, though he’s clearly aware of a certain Kryptonian’s abilities (if not identity). Is there a chance that we’ll learn more about Donovan and how he’s gone about putting his research into practice?
Perhaps! One of the things I’ve always loved about superhero comics is the way villains ally with each other over time and are kind of their own social set. They have to have cocktail parties too, I guess! And Superman in particular has things in the mythos like Cadmus (and Ismenios, the offshoot I made up for Donovan to start) and Intergang, which have been a lot of fun to play with. I feel too like for me part of what I’ve always wanted with these books was to allow the reader to imagine easily how all these people — good and bad — will continue coming closer and further in and out of each other’s orbits for their whole lives. I want you to imagine the comics you love best are what comes next, when they’re grown-up.
I’m glad you’ve gradually brought The Inventor deeper into the story, and gleefully vindicated with regard to the character’s true identity! Are there any other characters you’d like to pull in from the greater SUPERMAN mythos, or do you prefer a more organic approach, letting characters appear when needed?
I have a few super-dorky resource books and a stack of old comics I’ve gone to for villains, pulling in the ones that seemed most fun. The new female villain (or is she?) in Triple Threat came from one of those. And yay I’m glad you were vindicated.
Well, I am SO excited that my husband and I are launching a new middle grade series together the very same week that Triple Threat comes out. (I was either very good or very bad in a previous life.) It’s called The Supernormal Sleuthing Service and the first book is The Lost Legacy, and it has amazing illustrations from Glenn Thomas, and has been a tremendous amount of fun to do. So we’re both super-excited for it to be out and we’re finishing up a draft of book two now. And I have a revamped version of my first book, formerly known as Blackwood and now Strange Alchemy, my version of the Lost Colony of Roanoke Island set in the modern day, coming out this summer. To get to give your first book new life is an unusual thing and I’m so grateful for the opportunity. And I’m working on a secret project that I’m having too much fun with.
You always seem to have something up your sleeve when we talk!
As you well know by now, 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. You mentioned how much you like champagne cocktails and also that you’ve had a drink named after you, which sounds like a tremendous honor! Have there been any new drinks created for you, or have you discovered any new cocktails that you’re currently crazy about?
I’m so boring, in that I usually drink wine. But recently I’ve been digging all these mineral-y white wines with grapes grown in volcanic soil. Volcanic Terroir it says on the label, and they are delicious. And I like to toast Pele with them.
That sounds delicious!
Thanks so much for the interview!
Thank you so much for stopping by, Ms. Bond, and I can’t wait to read Strange Alchemy!
Readers, comment below for a chance to win a finished copy of Lois Lane: Triple Threat! U.S.-based mailing addresses only, please.