Wires and Nerve (Feiwel and Friends, Jan. 31) returns Meyer’s fans to the world of the Lunar Chronicles after the Revolution that has toppled evil Queen Levana from the throne of Luna and raised up the teenaged Cinder, who becomes Queen Selene, in her place. Queen Selene has forged an alliance with Earth, but the tenuous peace is threatened by packs of wolf-hybrid soldiers intent on destroying the Royal Family. Iko, known to readers as Cinder’s companion throughout the Lunar Chronicles, is the hero of Wires and Nerve. The android, who possesses a “flawed personality chip” that has resulted in her experiencing human emotions, is charged with hunting down the soldiers and their leader – and soon finds herself working with a handsome palace guard that makes her question everything she knows about life, love, and loyalty. Wires and Nerve is the first of a planned duology by Meyer and illustrator Douglas Holgate.
You have written five YA novels about the characters that populate Luna, as well as a collection of short stories. Why did you decide to continue your storytelling with a graphic novel?
Writing a graphic novel has been a dream of mine since I was a teenager and first fell in love with Japanese manga. My best friends and I used to spend hours and hours creating our own graphic novels, but back then the idea of actually getting one published seemed like an impossible dream. (Not unlike being a bestselling novelist!)
Toward the end of writing the Lunar Chronicles, I started getting ideas for a graphic novel set in the same world. I didn’t want to do a direct adaptation of the books, but loved the idea of creating a new story that would expand on the world and the characters’ relationships. I felt the universe would translate well to a graphic novel, as I always felt like writing the books was sort of like watching a movie in my head and trying to write down what I was seeing, so it felt very visual from the start. And with the proliferation of fan art these last few years, I thought the fans would really love to see it in a more visual medium, too.
The creative and writing processes, of course, would have been very different from your previous novels. Can you describe, first, the creative process, and then the writing process, including your collaboration with Doug Holgate?
There was a definite learning curve! I knew that I loved graphic novels, but had no real concept of how you go about writing one. So I did a lot of up-front research on the process and various script-writing techniques. For me, the initial process is very similar to writing a book – I came up with a concept, a synopsis, and then a chapter-by-chapter outline. But the actual writing of it was much, much slower. I’ve always written fast first drafts with my novels, but I couldn’t do that with a graphic novel. Every single panel has to be considered – What is happening here? How do I convey that to the artist? How do I want the artist to convey that to the reader? So there would be lots of staring into space as I tried to envision each panel, then a little bit of writing, and then more staring into space.
I feel so lucky to be working with Doug Holgate, though, who is immensely talented. Going into the process I had imagined there would be lots of back-and-forth discussion, lots of critiquing and revising of sketches as we went along, but there was very little of that! He nailed it on the first try 95% of the time, and has an incredible knack for bringing my vision to life, oftentimes even better than I’d imagined it.
What inspired you to called the book Wires and Nerve and why did you decide that Iko would be the main character?
Iko was always a favorite character in the books, and I came away from the main story feeling like there was still a lot to explore with her – particularly her backstory, and how she became so different from other androids. Also, Iko always believed that she was the hero of the story, so it felt fitting to give her a chance to be the hero for real this time!
As for the title, there is a lot of discussion throughout the book about humanity and artificial intelligence. Iko is an android who feels and acts like a human. She is capable of love and friendship, anger and resentment, jealousy and joy – but she lives in a world in which many people are incapable of seeing her as anything more than a machine. The title is intended to suggest the conflict within Iko – she has wires, not nerves, but she also has more nerve than a lot of flesh-and-blood humans.
You didn’t write Wires and Nerve as a stand-alone, but rather as the continuation of the story you wound up in Winter. Why did you do that when you could have written a stand-alone, since it was a different format?
I would also love to write a stand-alone graphic novel in the future (and have a few ideas a’brewing…), but this felt like the right story at the right time. I’d finished Winter and, while I was excited to move on to Heartless and a new series, I was also missing the characters who had been a big part of my life for eight long years. I also knew there were still some unresolved issues left at the end of the series: what becomes of the Lunar society after the revolution, and what about the abandoned soldiers, and does Iko ever get to fall in love like her friends? The story started to develop in my head and I knew it was one I wanted to tell, and one that I thought would be better told in graphic novel format than as a novel.
What is next for the heroes from the Lunar Chronicles?
Wires and Nerve volume 2 will be released early 2018, which will complete Iko’s tale as started in volume 1. As of right now, that’s the last Lunar Chronicles story I have in the works.
Although, I’ve said that before, so who knows? Maybe another idea will pop into my head that I simply can’t resist.
Will you return to writing traditional novels, do you think, or do you envision sticking with the graphic format?
I’d love to continue to do both! I have a new trilogy of YA novels coming out soon; the first will release in the fall of this year – a story about teenager superheroes in a contemporary alternate universe. I’m very excited for it! And while that series is my current focus, I have lots of ideas for both novels and graphic novels to come, so we’ll see what inspires me next.
Wires and Nerve by Marissa Meyer, illus. by Douglas Holgate. Feiwel and Friends, $21.99 Jan. 31 ISBN 978-1-250-07826-1