Prose novelists have their work translated into comic form with increasing frequency these days. However, it’s still notable when an established author puts aside their familiar form for a foray into comics. That’s the journey being undertaken by Anne Elizabeth, known primarily for her romance novels and her comics-related columns at Romantic Times. In her Pulse of Power, a one-shot which debuts in July from Dynamite, the novelist explores themes of sin, change, and yes, power. We caught up with her and found out why magic, Greenwich, and Navy SEALs are particularly important to her.
Newsarama: As a writer of romance novels (among numerous other things), it seems like you'd be a stranger in a strange land here. However, you write a column for RT Book Reviews on comics and manga. How did you become interested in writing and these two forms with very different core audiences?
Anne Elizabeth: I love stories! In every form, they have always intrigued me. I cut my teeth on Spider Man, Superman, and Archie. To this day, getting the latest issue of a favorite book thrills me. Being the columnist for RT BOOKreviews on the topic of comics, manga, and graphic novels was an opportunity of a lifetime. I was able to combine my love of writing with comics. Now, it’s actually my job to read the latest books and gather news and interview creators, writers, and artists. How cool is that!
Also, Neil Gaiman and George RR Martin are big inspirations. Wow, what stories!
So, why do I write? I want to share all the stories that bubble up inside of me. Especially those that keep me up at night. I was first published in romance, and writing – hot, hot, hot – was fun. I also write sweet. The happily-ever-after appeals to the romantic in me. Though one of my very first big writing projects was actually Pulse. It began in high school in Mr. Tyler’s English Class. Chapters flowed out of me, and I kept growing and writing on this world throughout the next few decades. Pulse of Power actually represents a longtime dream come true.
As to two different audiences, readers are intelligent. They crossover all the time. I think they appreciate an interesting or engaging story regardless of where an author originally started or the realm they are supposedly in. What matters is...does the story work, did you get something out of it, and do you look forward to what happens next? At least, that’s what I believe is important.
Nrama: One would think that the ability to process the energy of sin would make you more or less all-powerful. After all, everybody sins. So with that massive amount of power potentially flowing into her, what made you decide to go with her twenty-fifth birthday as the "action date"? I feel like these types of stories usually happen with teenagers who are already going through changes!
Elizabeth: Adults change too. Their experience often provides a method for making different types of decisions. Also, did you know that most women’s biology changes completely every 5 to 7 years? Of all the female friends I have, they had enormous life-altering experiences at this age. Then, they embraced themselves. For me, that was an important anchor point. There is nothing more powerfully attractive than a woman who knows who she is and what she wants.
Nrama: That said, it seems that in addition to the "bad guys," anyone whose power source is sin would face some well-intentioned people who want to stop them for religious reasons; is Tia kind of stuck between a rock and a hard place or am I just thinking too much about the sin thing?
Elizabeth: In the first draft of my story, I put her in between a righteous sect and the monsters. I flipped the roles making there be both good and bad individuals in each group. But, when I began writing the script, how the power gathered felt more important and what could be done with it. I decided to hold off on the “righteous” conflict...for now.
Nrama: Is the world of Pulse of Power fairly like our own? I mean, the concept that we live side-by-side with the paranormal but don't interact with it is a popular one in many kinds of storytelling but the solicitation makes Pulse of Power sound as though it's a decidedly different world, and not just a different take on our own.
Elizabeth: At first glance, it will appear to be like our world with a slightly more furry and creature-ridden population. As the story progresses, readers will learn strange planets are linked to earth through a magical tie. This will be further explored in the next story, The Pendulum. I’m too hooked on Star Trek, Stargate, and pretty much everything written by Stephen Hawking not to enjoy this aspect.
Nrama: Do we know who created Tia, and for what purpose? "Created from a mystical rite" immediately drives me to wonder why.
Elizabeth: Ah...readers will get the first part of this answer in Pulse of Power. There are several pieces of the puzzle which will be revealed in books to come. Hang in there.
Nrama: This may tie into that, but the phrase "Destiny is always a choice" strikes me. In a lot of supernatural stories, you have to deal with a really hesitant protagonist who only takes up the responsibility because s/he "has to." Is it safe to say that Tia is already at peace with that, and this story is telling the next stage in that story?
Elizabeth: Yes. That’s a terrific question. Tia was born a telekinetic, so she made peace with being different a long time ago. She also made the choice to be a rescuer, to help people who could not or were not able to help themselves. This is an important part of her psyche and soul.
Mine too. I’m the grand-daughter of a minister. I’ve mentored and coached many people, and my husband is a retired Navy SEAL. Being the best of self - a strength, helping others, and being a part of your community, these are values that are very meaningful to us. Guess that’s why my favorite motto is: Passion is the breath of life. Live boldly!
So, Pulse begins with a ritual. A ton of power is thrust upon her and she has to figure out how to manage it. Nothing changes fundamentally about her inner sense of self in this regards, because she understands herself, trusts herself. It’s being able to read the world around her, learn the cues and see the insights, that is the challenge, Also, how to protect those she loves is a major battle. There are some other tough hurdles too, because everyone needs some kind of method to achieve and grow.
Nrama: Why Greenwich?
Elizabeth: I grew up there. This is Prep Central. It was fun to take a place where oftentimes residents don’t know their neighbors and there are a lot of social etiquette rules and play with it. For example, Diana Ross could be your neighbor (Incredibly, she really lives there. What an amazing voice!), or a gun-toting guy who wipes out his best friend’s family (sadly, that happened too). You see most people have this idea that Greenwich contains perfect people with perfectly manicured lawns in pristine quiet homes with spectacular lives and experiences. In actuality, life is just as messy here as it is everywhere else. I just had a marvelous time taking it up to the next level and adding in fuzzy, furry, and fang types.
Nrama: Your project was originally set up at Dabel Bros, but Dynamite took over those projects. How has it been working with Dynamite thus far?
Elizabeth: Fine. It’s been very informative. Each company has a different way of doing business and proceeding forward. For example, most authors I know enjoy talking and interacting with fans and fellow comic lovers. Next to the writing, this is one of my favorite parts. Dabel Bros. always makes sure there is a booth at Cons so fans have a place to congregate, pick up the latest issues, etc. and Dynamite does these wonderful collector’s volumes. They are both quite remarkable.
Nrama: The artist on the book is Marcio Fiorito; have you had much interaction there, and what do you think of how Fiorito has realized your characters?
Elizabeth: Marcio has done a terrific job! He’s really worked hard to combine both originality and a retro style...giving cougars real cat-heads and realizing some of the new creatures I developed in vivid and remarkable detail. There is no stopping him. He’s a force of nature.
Nrama: What makes Pulse of Power different from the other books on the racks?
Elizabeth: The journey, and a few new creature creations. Pulse of Power has these realistic themes, ones that many people still wrestle with today. Yet, there is magic, twists and turns that make it worth reading several times until everything has been absorbed. Also, threaded through the story is this reminder - that how we live is a choice. Our destiny is in our hands, and it’s up to us to go for our dreams. It might take a lot of work, working our way through bad jobs, crazy relationships, horrible illnesses, deaths of loved ones, or even patiently writing for decades, but it’s worth it.