American YA author Marie Lu talks to us about taking on the task of writing a Batman novel for a YA audience as part of the DC Icons series.
Can you give us an idea of what to expect from Batman: Nightwalker?
Teen Bruce, teen Bruce getting himself in trouble, and teen Bruce’s villain, an 18-year-old girl named Madeleine Wallace who happens to be the youngest inmate at Arkham Asylum.
How did you become involved with the #DCIcons series and why did you want to write for it?
One day, my agent sent me a mysterious email titled "DC Icons" and told me that Random House and DC were partnering to select four YA authors to write about four iconic DC characters. It kind of felt like a moment out of a superhero movie, really, only with fewer capes. Once I heard that Batman was one of the four options, I just couldn’t say no. He was my first superhero as a kid, and also my introduction to nuanced characters.
Did you feel nervous about taking on such an iconic character?
Incredibly nervous. Batman as a character is intimidating enough to tackle—but the teenage period of Bruce Wayne’s life? Other than his recent portrayal in the Gotham show, we know almost nothing about Bruce’s teen years. That meant I had an odd situation of exploring a very well-known character during a not-so-well-known time in his life.
How did you go about reimagining Batman for a YA audience?
I had to take apart and rebuilt everything I thought I knew about Bruce Wayne. Every superhero is essentially two characters in one: the superhero, and the normal person behind the mask. We all understand and sympathise with Batman, but what about Bruce? I tried to think about his life before Batman, and how even a young billionaire must still go through the confusing teenage trials of learning who to trust, who to be, and how to step into the rest of your life.
How does this title fit in with the rest of the DC Icons series?
The DC Icons series is all about exploring that extreme time of change in the lives of DC’s superheroes, and each superhero’s teenage years can be a different way to comment on forces larger than themselves. The brilliant Leigh Bardugo absolutely killed it with Wonder Woman: Warbringer—young Diana grows into both her fierceness and deep sense of good by calling attention to injustices in our real world. For Bruce Wayne, I wanted to contrast his position of youth and privilege against a villain who teaches him that the world operates in shades of grey.
Batman: Nightwalker is published by Penguin Random House on 4th January 2018.