Welcome to Gwenda Bond, whose newest young adult book, LOIS LANE: FALLOUT, launches TODAY from Switch Press! (And yes, it's THAT Lois Lane!)
Lois Lane is starting a new life in Metropolis. An Army brat, Lois has lived all over--and seen all kinds of things. (Some of them defy explanation, like the near-disaster she witnessed in Kansas in the middle of one night.) But now her family is putting down roots in the big city, and Lois is determined to fit in. Stay quiet. Fly straight. As soon as she steps into her new high school, though, she can see it won't be that easy. A group known as the Warheads is making life miserable for another girl at school. They're messing with her mind, somehow, via the high-tech immersive videogame they all play. Not cool. Armed with her wit and her new snazzy job as a reporter, Lois has her sights set on solving this mystery. But sometimes it's all a bit much. Thank goodness for her maybe-more-than-a friend, a guy she knows only by his screenname, SmallvilleGuy . . .
Welcome, Gwenda! Tell us, how did this book come about? Were you approached to write the story of teenaged Lois Lane, or did you pitch it to someone?
I was approached about writing a YA novel featuring Lois Lane, via my agent, and of course interested immediately. Once I confirmed that there would be some flexibility and freedom in terms of what shape it would take, I more than enthusiastically signed on. It all came together very quickly.
Do you have any other superheroes (or non-superheroes!) you'd love to write about, given the chance?
Hmmm—good question! This particular project is truly a dream to get to do. But I love a good superhero story and am a long-time comics reader, so I’m definitely open to the possibility of doing other work along these lines. I’m also actually writing a follow-up to my circus novel, Girl on a Wire, about a young woman who wants to be a famous magician (working title Abracadabra Girl), which undoubtedly has a hint of my Zatanna love in it somewhere if you look closely.
What kind of research did you do while writing? Read the comics, watch the movies? Do you have a favorite resource you came across while researching? (Favorite movie or comic also counts!)
I didn’t do that much research while writing, but I did revisit a few things during the outlining stage. I re-watched the Superman movies featuring Christopher Reeve and Margot Kidder (Donner cut of Superman II forever!), read some essays about Lois Lane, and revisited some of my favorite comics featuring the characters (Kurt Busiek’s Superman: Secret Identity and some issues of Superman’s Girlfriend, among others). I did have a guidebook to Metropolis that came in handy during the writing, however.
The cover design is badass. How did the cover for Lois Lane: Fallout come about?
There were actually several different iterations of it! Each one was somehow better than the next, even though I fully loved all of them (and you can find them with an image search—ghost covers in the machine!). Bob Lentz at Capstone is the mastermind behind them and the entire final book design. The finished hardcovers are truly beautiful objects in and of themselves. Trivia: the newsprint on the final cover is actually a scene from the book, the first time Lois and SmallvilleGuy “meet” in the virtual reality game that features in the plot.
Did anything end up getting cut that you kind of miss?
Not really! Most of the edits were adding things or enhancing what was there. It was a fabulous editorial process (hat tip to my wonderful editor Beth Brezenoff for that).
Who were your advisors at VCFA?
First semester was Tim Wynne-Jones, second was Uma Krishnaswami, third was Leda Schubert, and for my final semester I had Martine Leavitt. I still feel incredibly lucky that I got to work with each of them, and with the faculty who ran my residency workshops.
How did attending VCFA affect your writing life?
VCFA completely transformed my writing life. It taught me how to write novels, for one, but also gave me a deep grounding in children’s and YA literature—and an introduction to the community around it—that has proved invaluable. I also wouldn’t understand POV half as well if Leda hadn’t kept pushing me on my critical thesis.
What is your favorite VCFA memory?
Oh, this is hard! Probably just any random residency night, bonding with my fellow classmates. We were known informally as “the class that stayed at Betsy’s” (and were super small compared to others!). Many, many good times.
What advice would you give to a prospective VCFA student?
Stretch—don’t be afraid to try new things. Think of this as your time to experiment with different forms and formats under expert guidance. Listen to your advisors, and also always to your own voice. They’ll help you do that too, and that’s maybe the most important part of being a writer.
What do you wish you had known before you first set foot on the VCFA campus?
Despite everyone’s best efforts, I don’t think I was fully prepared for the cold of Vermont in the winter. Bring toe-warmers!
Yes, the winters are truly frigid. Layer up, prospective students! And thank you, Gwenda, for stopping by!
Gwenda Bond is the author of the young adult novels Lois Lane: Fallout and Girl on a Wire, among others. She has also written for Publishers Weekly, the Los Angeles Times, and the Washington Post, among other publications. She has an MFA in Writing from the Vermont College of Fine Arts, and lives in a hundred-year-old house in Lexington, Kentucky, with her husband, author Christopher Rowe, and their menagerie.