The Pop Quiz at the End of the Universe

The Pop Quiz at the End of the Universe: Marjorie Liu

Welcome back to The Pop Quiz at the End of the Universe, a recurring series here on Tor.com featuring some of our favorite science fiction and fantasy authors, artists, and others!

Today we’re joined by Marjorie Liu, author of two ongoing New York Times bestselling series: the Hunter Kiss urban fantasy series and the Dirk & Steele paranormal romance novels. The latest novel in her Hunter Kiss series, Labyrinth of Stars, is available now from Ace Books. Marjorie is also celebrated for her comic book writing and is a popular panelist at conventions and other comic book and literary events.

Marjorie attended Lawrence University in Appleton, Wisconsin for her undergraduate studies, then attended law school at the University of Wisconsin. For more than 16 years, Marjorie studied and traveled throughout Asia, working briefly at the US Embassy in Beijing, China. In 2004 she gave up practicing law to become a full-time writer, and divides her time between the American Midwest, Boston, and Beijing, China. Recent international coverage of Marjorie’s work includes features in the Beijing Global Times, China Daily, and Paris’s Comic Box.

Join us as we cover subjects ranging from biotech law to fairy tales, and more!

Please relate one fact about yourself that has never appeared anywhere else in print or on the Internet.

If it hasn’t appeared in print, there’s probably a good reason! On the other hand I don’t think I’ve ever mentioned that, as a lawyer, I wanted to specialize in biotech law. That didn’t happen, of course, but I’m still fascinated by the ethical and legal issues of eugenics, genetic engineering, and biotech—and I find that work creeping into many of my stories, even the Hunter Kiss series. Who is to say, after all, that a woman covered in demonic tattoos isn’t actually part of an elaborate genetic engineering experiment?

Describe your favorite place to read or write?

Reading: everywhere.

Writing: on the couch; at the library; sitting in sunlight (dawn, at sunset); with cats; drinking tea; my pajamas.

If you could choose your own personal theme music/song to play every time you enter a room, what would you pick?

“Walking on Sunshine” by Katrina & The Waves.

Strangest thing you’ve learned while researching a book?

I can’t think of the strangest thing, but the most disturbing has to be my research into human trafficking.

If you had to choose one band or artist to provide the official soundtrack to your latest book, who would it be?

Marjorie Liu Labyrinth of StarsThat’s difficult because my craving for certain songs shifts constantly as I work. So for Labyrinth of Stars, the latest Hunter Kiss novel, I had a mixed soundtrack (and some of these songs have migrated over to the new novel I’m writing):

  • “Song For Zula” by Phosphorescent
  • “Mensch” by Herbert Gronemeyer (feat. Bono)
  • “A Thousand Years, Pt. 2” by Christina Perri (feat. Steve Kazee)
  • “Only If For a Night” by Florence + the Machine
  • “Seven Devils” by Florence + the Machine
  • “Breath of Life” by Florence + the Machine
  • “Lights” (Bassnectar Remix) by Ellie Goulding
  • “Kill and Run” by Sia
  • “The Monster” by Eminem (feat. Rihanna)
  • “Beautiful Pain” by Eminem (feat. Sia)
  • “Part II (On the Run)” by JAY-Z (feat. Beyoncé)

What was your gateway to SF/Fantasy, as a child or young adult?

Fairy tales. Hans Christian Andersen, really. But I can’t remember a time when I wasn’t obsessed with magic and mystery, and the unknown. That was the language of my childhood.

What kind of apocalypse (zombie, robot, environmental, etc.) is most compatible with your survival skills? And what kind of apocalypse would you like to avoid at all costs?

I’d prefer to avoid ALL apocalypses, though beyond the ones that are made for film—zombies, robots—I’d argue that the apocalypse is always with us and always happening—just as we’re always recovering from it in some way or another. WWII was an apocalyptic event, both in Europe and Asia (from death camps to the atomic bomb). We imagine “the end” as a world devastating event, but every time there’s a terrible earthquake, a tsunami, an outbreak of disease—that’s apocalyptic, on a micro-scale. Genocidal wars? Apocalyptic. Crushing, generational poverty? Also apocalyptic. That said, I’d rather deal with my robot overlords than a lethal, virulent combo of Ebola and the flu.

Cast the main characters of your new/upcoming novel (in other words, choose your dream cast for a Hollywood adaptation of your book).

I think Maggie Q would make a great Maxine Kiss. As for Grant, I leave that to my readers—though I’ve imagined everyone from a young Richard Dean Anderson to Viggo Mortenson.

If you, as a ghost, could regularly haunt one celebrity, author, or literary figure, who would it be?

I’d like to go back in time and haunt Robert Louis Stevenson during his years in the South Pacific.

List three things you’d like our readers to know about you and your work.

The three things I’d like people to know about the Hunter Kiss series are:

  1. It’s a story about mothers and daughters, and how the bonds between them create legacies that survive death, apocalypse, and the most radical of personal transformations.
  2. Love saves the soul, and the world.
  3. Demons, even the ones that eat people, aren’t always the bad guys. Sometimes, in fact, they’re the closest thing to family a girl can have.

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