Victoria Schwab is a very busy lady these days. But we were able to talk to her a little bit during this summer’s San Diego Comic-Con, where she flew to from Paris (doing research for a book), spent all four days at, and participated in five panels and seven signings total. And even though we were on the last day of a very long weekend, Victoria was more than happy to chat a bit with us.
Schwab was mainly there to promote her upcoming new comic book series based off the Shades of Magic novels, The Steel Prince, as well as the comics-writing process. We also asked her about the upcoming sequel to Vicious, Vengeful.
I overheard you talking about anime, so I wanted to know, what is your favorite anime?
So, here’s the crazy thing. I grew up with DragonballZ, and now it’s making this huge comeback with Dragonball Super, and I’m like, ‘What is this?!’ When I was eleven, you could not say you were a fan of Dragonball Z. You’d get beat up on the playground if you said that, and now it’s like plastered on billboards everywhere, so it’s like pretty cool to come back to things as an adult. I grew up on Sailor Moon and Dragonball. All the classics.
What made you decide to do a graphic novel set in the Shades of Magic universe?
Well, it’s a big world. It’s a big world, and I tried to make the books as focused as possible, and so by focusing on four or five characters really specifically, it meant that I had to leave some characters at the fringes, at the edges. Maxim Maresh is one of those characters who’s pretty maligned, but also he’s kind of an asshole. But I wanted to know—one of the themes in the Shades of Magic is myth, like, how is a legend made? Rhy is in the process of becoming a legend, the prince, in the books. He just doesn’t know it yet. And so Maxim has a legend about him.
You learn in the third book, he has this legend as the Steel Prince that another empire knows him as. Another ambassador mentions it; it’s the first time it’s ever mentioned and you realize that Maxim had a life before he was King. An identity before he was King. What we’re seeing is the most cotified version of him, but we didn’t see the process. So, I wanted to show that, and I already had books in the works that were moving forward in time in the sequels, so I couldn’t really move backwards at the same time. And I wasn’t actually sure that I had a novel’s worth that I wanted to do, but I also wanted a chance to explore the world visually, and when Titan was, like, ‘Well, have you ever thought about doing a comic?’ And I didn’t realize they meant I could do a comic in my own world, and I was not sure I could work in any of the fandoms. It’s kind of toxic, it’s really scary, and I’m really busy, and they’re like, Why don’t you do a comic in Shades of Magic?’
And I was like, ‘Whaaat?! I can do this?!’ So that was pretty amazing. And so that’s where this came from. I had this story already in the back of my mind, and I thought what a great format.
What was the process like, working with the illustrators and the drawers?
It’s the exact opposite of writing a novel, in the best way. Writing novels really solitary, really lonely, and you feel inadequate most of the time. Working on a comic is a communal effort, where I have an editor, [Andrea] Olimpieri is my line artist, [Enric Eren] Angiolini is my colorist, Rob Steen is my typesetter. I have this entire team that is working constantly every day. I get new pages to sign off on one element or another element. So I’ve got this constant infusion of creativity and teamwork, and it’s wonderful.
You’re also diving back into the world of the Villains. Vicious was originally a standalone. When did you first decide you needed to dive back into that world and did writing Vengeful differ from its predecessor?
Vicious was only a standalone in that it was my first adult novel and we didn’t know how it would sell. They were like, you have to write it so that it can stand alone, if it doesn’t sell well enough to have a sequel, but it was always meant to be a series for me. So, the last page, I would argue, makes it a cliffhanger, not a standalone, because Sydney resurrects Victor.
Sydney has never successfully resurrected an EO, which means that Victor’s powers aren’t probably going to work properly, and Victor’s powers are pain. So, what happens to somebody with Victor’s powers start to malfunction? So, for me, it was always like a very mixed bag; I always wanted to work on it, and I thought about it for several years, and then about two years ago, my publisher was like, ‘Okay, fine. We’ll let you continue the Villains series,’ because I kept being like, ‘it’s never going to sell like Shades of Magic, but it has this intense following, and I love it and give me a chance,’ and they were like, ‘Fine, fine, fine!’
And then I decided I wanted to write a book about the women. Vengeful is about the ways that women are stripped of and retake power in the world. It’s my 2018 response to my 2013 novel. Victor was very much an autobiographical character in 2013, and June, who’s one of the women that we meet in Vengeful, is definitely my autobiographical character in 2018.
For you, is the approach any different when you’re writing adult vs young adult vs graphic novels?
No. I mean, yeah, certain elements different, like an comic book or graphic novel is a lot closer to a film script than it is to a book. But in terms of my head space? No. I’m a visual writer, so I usually plan out my books as movies in my head, and then transcribe them in a way that I hope other people will see them as movies in their head. And I don’t change my writing style that much. I don’t write down to kids, I don’t write up to adults. I’m just writing for a different version of myself.
Since we’re at Comic-Con, if you had a chance to cosplay, or if you did cosplay…
Oh yeah, yeah! A couple of years ago, I can’t remember if it was here or maybe at Dragon Con, I cosplayed as Hit Girl from Kick-Ass with the purple wig and everything. I desperately want to cosplay as Kylo Ren. That’s what I want more than anything. Every time I see a Kylo Ren cosplay, I’m like, damn it! So cool looking! So, yeah, Kylo Ren.
Victoria will be going on tour to promote Vengeful, and you can see her stops in her twitter post below:
Will I see you? pic.twitter.com/3l0lRFn7gH
— Victoria/V.E. Schwab (@veschwab) September 11, 2018
About The Steel Prince (The Shades of Magic Universe)
Written by #1 New York Times bestselling author V.E. Schwab and torn from the universe of the Shades of Magic sequence, this all-original comic book prequel to A Darker Shade of Magic is perfect for fans of bloody, swashbuckling adventure and gritty fantasy!
Delve into the thrilling, epic tale of the young and arrogant prince Maxim Maresh, long before he became the king of Red London and adoptive father to Kell, the lead of A Darker Shade of Magic!
The youthful Maresh is sent to a violent and unmanageable port city on the Blood Coast of Verose, on strict orders from his father, King Nokil Maresh, to cut his military teeth in this lawless landscape.
There, he encounters an unruly band of soldiers, a lawless landscape, and the intoxicatingly deadly presence of the newly returned pirate queen, Arisa…
Collects Shades of Magic: The Steel Prince #1-4.
Shades of Magic: The Steel Prince #1 will go on sale October 10th.
Shades of Magic: The Steel Prince #2 will go on sale November 14th.
Check your local comic book stores for a copy.
About Vengeful (Vicious #2)
The sequel to VICIOUS, V.E. Schwab’s first adult novel.
Sydney once had Serena—beloved sister, betrayed enemy, powerful ally. But now she is alone, except for her thrice-dead dog, Dol, and then there’s Victor, who thinks Sydney doesn’t know about his most recent act of vengeance.
Victor himself is under the radar these days—being buried and re-animated can strike concern even if one has superhuman powers. But despite his own worries, his anger remains. And Eli Ever still has yet to pay for the evil he has done.