Last year Ardo sat down with Gwenda Bond to discuss her new project – a Young Adult novel starring superstar reporter Lois Lane. Many of us at WWAC enjoyed Lois Lane: Fallout and were excited when it was announced a sequel – Lois Lane: Double Down – would follow in 2016. Now that Double Down has been out in the world for a few weeks, Jennie decided to check in with Gwenda about our favorite reporter, the future of the series, and what else she’s currently working on.
Growing up, what was your family’s attitude towards stories and storytelling? Did you do a lot of world building and storytelling as a child?
I grew up in a small southern town with two grandmothers who were masters of telling ghost stories–be they supposedly true or just meant to terrify. It’s a storytelling culture, and that definitely was a huge influence on me and the kinds of stories that I liked. Although…I was also a wuss, and so I’d watch or read or ask for scary stories and then not sleep until it was light out. I was also tremendously lucky that my parents were readers and also teachers (and later principals–I always say that I came by authority issues honestly and early). The main benefit was that I had access to both the elementary and high school libraries over the summer. And, yes, I was an evil little storyteller who declared I was going to be a writer before I could even write. I keenly remember being called out by my kindergarten teacher Mrs. Little for pretend “reading” a book to other kids incorrectly, but I was just improving on what I could remember of it.
Did any particular books, comics, movies, and/or television shows inspire you to become a writer?
I always craved stories. As I said, I was that obnoxious child who wanted to be a writer from the time my parents started reading to me. So it’s hard to name specific things–it was everything. I was a genre-crosser, even as a child, and read a little of everything. I think it was that mix and match, going from comic books to Shakespeare, from The Addams Family to Strawberry Shortcake without batting an eye or having anyone act like it was weird that influenced me most. Certainly I always loved Lois Lane, and other strong women in comics–the women of the X-Men were also a big early love of mine. Poets, people out on the avant garde, and feminists, always. Sassy Magazine was a HUGE influence for me, feeling trapped as I often did as a bookwormy oddball in my small town rural high school, and one way in which I began to understand writers could write all kinds of things, not just books.
Why did you decide to reinvent Lois Lane into a modern teen who solves crimes? How closely did you work with Superman comics to create this new take on her character?
Well, I was lucky enough to be asked if I’d be interested on doing a modern take on Lois Lane as a teen reporter. My only real question was whether I’d have the freedom to make it my own, and the answer was yes. The rest is, as they say, history. But, really, the vision I had for it came together very quickly. I have done a detailed outline for each of the books that Warner Bros./DCE approves up front, and then they also go over the manuscript once it comes in (along with my main editor at Capstone). We’ve been on the same page all along, which is nice.
How have Superman fans reacted to your reimaging of Lois Lane and Clark Kent? Have you noticed a lot of crossover between YA readers and comic fans in your audience?
Definitely yes! And I have to say that Lois Lane fans, generally speaking, are the best. I might be biased, but I believe it’s true. I feel like the books have been embraced by and large by the Superman fan community, and I’ve felt very welcomed into the comics space. YA is my home country, and so it’s also a gift to get to serve as an introduction to these characters for many younger readers.
Are you planning to continue Lois’ story in future books?
I could tell you, but then I would mysteriously disappear. I hope to have some news I can share on this front soon.
Do you have a favorite big or small screen version of Lois Lane?
Margot Kidder has to be my favorite, always, because she was my first Lois. I don’t know whether my love of fast-talking newsroom dames came from her or vice versa, but I do love them.
Girl in the Shadows, the second novel in your Cirque American series, will be available in July. What interests you about the circus as a setting?
I’ve always been obsessed by circuses; collected nonfiction about them, watched all the movies and read all the novels. It’s such a rich culture of stories, isn’t it? I also love family stories, and the multi-generational nature of many circus families holds a real fascination in that way. It’s funny, because I never thought I would write a circus novel. I didn’t think I had anything to add. But then I got the flu and a friend and I watched Circus, the documentary about the Big Apple Circus that I’d stockpiled on my DVR, and within a few days I had an idea for something I hadn’t seen that much of–a modern circus, where there was magic, but the circus itself wasn’t magical. I’d loved wire walkers for years too, and so that was a natural thing to give my heroine in Girl on a Wire (who is also the heroine of the Girl Over Paris comic miniseries I’m doing with Kate Leth and Ming Dyyle). And the sequel, Girl in the Shadows, comes directly out of my similar obsession and love of stage magic and con artists.
Can you write a bit about developing the heroines of these novels?
My joking name for the Cirque American series is my “ambitious girls” series. And obviously Lois could fit under that heading too. I try to write the girls I see in the world–the girls who want something and work so hard for it, the girls who are into boys or other girls or a combination thereof but who aren’t defined by their romantic interests (I only write healthy romances! or at least, I try, no true bad boys/girls for me), the girls who care deeply about the the people in their lives and the world around them. For me, once I have the character’s voice, it flows from there.
Who are your real life heroines?
So. many! My mom, all the editors I work with, my agent, the women at my former day job in politics, journalists, doctors, scientists, teachers, business owners, other writers and artists, the women in my aerial classes, those of you who write for this site and others fighting to broaden the comics world (seriously), women who speak up about injustices–small or large–even though they know there will be trolls that come and threaten them immediately. There are so, so many women in my life (and outside it) that are my heroes. I’m constantly thrilled and inspired by what other women and girls are accomplishing.
Who are your favorite comic book characters? Favorite comic books and/or graphic novels? Favorite comics creators?
Lois and Superman, and the entire ensemble; Batgirl in her many guises; Storm, Rogue, Kitty Pryde; Spider-Gwen; Wonder Woman; Black Canary. I could go on. Right now, I’m so loving Patsy Walker, AKA Hellcat (Kate Leth is a goddess and I feel so lucky to have gotten to work with her and get to know her on Girl Over Paris — and we have a variant cover from Brittney Williams for issue 1!) and Marguerite Bennett’s Bombshells; they’re my two never-miss, drop-everything books at the moment. As far as creators, off the top of my head: Kate, as I already said, and Ming Doyle, also a genius (her art on Girl Over Paris is just insane it’s so great), Marguerite Bennett, Ryan North, Kelly Sue, Gail Simone (her Birds of Prey will be my forever fave), Jen Bartel, Noelle Stevenson, and sooooo, soooooo many more.
Which of your pets is most likely to assume a secret superhero identity? What would be her/his powers?
Okay, so I think they all believe that they could be superheroes, but it’s always really the cat, right? We do have an elaborate game that Puck the Dog is being “activated” in an ancient war against squirrels, and Emma the Dog has been known to slay snakes on a regular basis in the backyard. But, really, the cat is the secret mastermind behind everything (he has THUMBS)–although now that I think about it, would Hemingway the Cat be a superhero…or a supervillain? DUM DUM DUM.
What are you currently reading?
I’m rereading Geek Love, actually, in memory of Katherine Dunn, who recently passed away. One of those touchstone circus books from my youth.
Lois Lane: Double Down is out now from Switch Press.