Humanities & Culture

Marjorie Liu JD’03: Genre Bender


Marjorie Liu decided to forgo a career in law to become a novelist. Courtesy Of Wunderkind PR

The UW’s Law School offers a broad variety of coursework, but there are some situations that it doesn’t prepare its graduates to handle. There’s nothing in the family law classes, for instance, to prepare future Badger attorneys to understand the issues that surround a relationship between a woman and a merman. Criminal law courses don’t teach students how to handle a murder investigation that might involve a woman covered in living, demonic tattoos.

Marjorie Liu JD’03 had to learn these things on her own. But then Liu is a bestselling author of paranormal-themed novels and comic books — her interest is strictly literary, not litigious.

“I really enjoyed law school,” Liu says. “I loved learning about the law, [loved] the intellectual challenge. But I found that I didn’t feel a passion for it as a career.”

In the years since she left Madison, Liu has forged a reputation as a genre-defying author. Her first novel, Tiger’s Eye, launched a ten-book (so far) series called Dirk & Steele. These romance novels are set in a world of mythical creatures, and they’ve been included on the New York Times bestseller list.

Liu has also penned a series of “urban fantasy” novels — works that incorporate elements of myth and magic into a modern setting. The Hunter Kiss series follows the exploits of Maxine Kiss, a demon-hunting woman whose tattoos come to life.

Between novels, she also writes comic books for Marvel, including such titles as NYX, Dark Wolverine, and Black Widow, and she’s the ongoing writer for Marvel’s X-23 series.

Life as an author keeps Liu busy, and next winter she’ll have three novels coming out in quick succession: Within the Flame, the next entry in the Dirk & Steele series, is slated for publication in December 2011; The Mortal Bone, the latest Hunter Kiss novel, is due out in January 2012; and in March 2012, Liu will step outside her established series with an as-yet-untitled mystery about a woman who discovers that her great-aunt was a noted dominatrix during World War II.

“I’ve always loved reading, daydreaming, and writing things down,” she says. “Once I sold that first book, I faced a decision — I could try to be a lawyer and find time to write on the side, or I could live cheap on the family farm in Indiana. I chose to live cheap and go all out, taking time to write, and that’s given me a career as a novelist.”

Published in the Summer 2011 issue


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