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For stories set in an imaginary universe -- where shape-shifters are real and heroes and heroines are imbued with the mystical and the magical -- there's something unmistakably real about the characters in Marjorie Liu's books. That may explain why readers are flocking to this prolific yet relatively new voice on the paranormal romance scene.
In just a few short years, Liu has gone from unknown to the author of six books, including her newest, Eye of Heaven (Dec., Leisure), the latest in her Dirk and Steele series. She's also won the Romantic Times 2005 Reviewers' Choice Award for Contemporary Paranormal Romance.
Liu graduated law school but gave up practicing to devote time to her writing. Her father is Chinese, while her mother
is a mix of English, French, Scottish and Irish. Her characters are likewise multi-ethnic -- a recent heroine was Chinese-American, while an upcoming one is part African-American.
"I don't choose the ethnic background of my characters," says the author. "The characters who show up in my head arrive fully formed, and I do not change who they are after the fact. Nor do I fear reader reaction. I have more respect for
my readers than that, and the reaction has been overwhelmingly positive.
"People are people -- all of us participating in human stories -- and when I write, no matter how fantastical the tale, I am ultimately trying to tell stories that are based on our common humanity," Liu continues. "I think there is a real joy in being who you are, in living a full life embracing every aspect of the things you love. It's not me versus you but all of us together."
One of the things that sets Liu's books apart are their international settings, something that can be attributed to the author's own extensive travel dossier. "Growing up, I never thought I would be able to travel as much as I have, but what an adventure! The world is an incredible place, and I love trying to express that feeling of being a stranger in a strange land, of seeing for the first time a world that is both familiar and strange. As a writer, I think it creates an opportunity for bigger stories -- but it's also a lot of fun." Liu has visited much of Asia, and would like to one day visit Iceland, Scotland, Afghanistan, Russia, Inner Mongolia -- and even Antarctica.
Liu, who claims to be "pretty boring," says she doesn't think she's been all that successful at her writing. "My definition of success is writing to the best of my ability all the stories that pop into my head. Given that I will never be able to accomplish that -- too many stories, too little time -- no doubt I will live in a state of 'authorial hunger' for the rest of my life. I'm fine with that. I don't think it's healthy for one's sense of purpose to ever be truly satisfied."
So what's the one thing Liu would like to write that she hasn't already? "Comics, for sure." -- Faygie Levy
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