Today, we bring you part 2 of our three-part exclusive interview with Black Widow: Forever Red author Margaret Stohl. If you missed part 1, check it out here.
You mean other than read every Black Widow comic I could get my hands on — including the rare ones my husband had to track down online and at dive comic book shops an hour out of town? After that, I turned to spy novels. I must have read dozens before I sat down to write. I wanted to make sure that Natasha felt and read like who she is — a product of both Russian and US intelligence agencies, a combat veteran, a seasoned spy, a military strategist – as well as a tech savvy weapons expert. This is probably the most homework I’ve ever done for a writing project, but then as a game designer this would have been a normal part of the process…!
As popular as Black Widow is, a lot of fans feel she isn’t getting enough spotlight (in particular, enough screen time in the movies). What do you think it will take for Natasha to get the star treatment her fans feel she deserves?
While the process can sometimes be painfully slow, I think Hollywood gives an audience what they want, so it’s important that fans support projects that feature women and be vocal on social media that they want more. I’m seeing that happening now with Black Widow, and it’s really exciting. It’s that kind of energy that landed Natasha her own book, and hopefully there will be even more in the near future. But to be honest, I really love what Marvel is doing right now with not just Black Widow but Ms. Marvel, Captain Marvel, even Squirrel Girl. I have a lot of hope for female superheroes in general.
I think it’s safe to say, you have had some pretty diverse experiences as an author at this point! You’ve co-authored a best-selling series (and its spin-off) with BEAUTIFUL CREATURES, written your own solo series with the ICONS books, and now you’ve tackled a massive franchise with BLACK WIDOW. What about the writing process is the same across all of these projects, and what changes?
The one thing that always stays the same is the building and rebuilding or worlds and characters. You have to be open to what the characters and story need, and you have to be willing to rework what isn’t working. My collaboration with Kami Garcia on BEAUTIFUL CREATURES taught me that – you have to be willing to face the music and let things you love go, if it makes the book better. By the time I wrote the ICONS books, I had learned to do that on my own. BLACK WIDOW introduced a whole new level of rebuilding, because I was telling the story of a character that already existed with a complex past. I had to read between the lines of her cannon, and find the story I wanted to tell. The writing process became a conversation between Natasha and myself about how to rebuild her world authentically in the context of Forever Red. It was a ton of work, but all very essential for the book. Plus, I had all of her past writers, illustrators, filmmakers and millions of fans looking over my shoulder as motivation for me to get it right…!
Thanks again, Margie! Tune in for part 3, Flash Questions, on Friday.