The Big Idea: Marjorie M. Liu

Short form intro: Marjorie M. Liu is awesome, and her Hunter’s Kiss series of books is awesome, and now there’s a new book in the series, Labyrinth of Stars. Marjorie takes a moment to look at the series and its heroine and where they both are, after all this time.


The concept of the Hunter Kiss series is straight-forward:  A young woman is covered head to toe in living tattoos that make her invulnerable by day, and that peel off her body at night to form her own demonic army.  There are a million different ways I could have approached that concept, but as writers we’re often products of a particular moment in our lives.  Back in 2008 when I wrote the first book in the series, The Iron Hunt, I thought what I was trying to create was an urban fantasy about a girl who would solve supernatural mysteries.  Instead, what I wrote was something very different: a series of books about a young woman’s emergence from her mother’s long shadow.

For my heroine, Maxine Kiss, that’s easier said than done.  Those tattoos that protect her have been passed down from mother to daughter for ten thousand years, and it’s a tragic inheritance.  Every mother ultimately dies for her daughter – violently, terribly — and every daughter knows that, and knows she’ll do the same for her daughter, whether she wants to sacrifice herself or not.  That’s the price of their power.

But it sucks.  How do you live your own life, become your own individual self, when the only person you knew as family, — your mother, your world, your source of identity – is sacrificed so that you can go on living?  How do you carve your own path, when you feel compelled to follow the legacy of the woman who died for you?  Beyond all the demons and conspiracies, and otherworldly happenings of the Hunter Kiss series, that is the ultimate question – one I’ve tried to answer over the course of the previous four novels and two novellas.

And now I’ve come to Labyrinth of Stars, which isn’t the end of the road for Maxine – just the beginning, in fact – though it is the end of a particularly long chapter in her life, one that began with her as a daughter still struggling to follow her mother’s footsteps, and that ultimately finds her transformed into a woman about to become a mother herself, with her own legacy to pass down.

Mothers and daughters — the sacrifices we make for each other – the strength it takes to become women in our own right, with our own power: that’s the over-arching idea behind this latest novel, and all the Hunter Kiss books.  But it’s an old story with endless incarnations — and yet, for all of its familiarity, as intimate as skin.


Labyrinth of Stars: Amazon|Barnes & Noble|Indiebound|Powell’s

Read an excerpt. Visit the author’s blog. Follow her on Twitter.

10 Comments on “The Big Idea: Marjorie M. Liu”

  1. So before you wrap the series up be sure your protagonist does not sacrifice herself for her daughter. Screw ten thousand years of fate. If her daughter dies because of the no sacrifice stance? Big whoop. She can have a son next. In short, mess with fate.

  2. Is there something wrong with me that I’m picturing Jim C. Hines doing that cover?

  3. @Pam Adams If so it’s not just you. Whenever I see this kind of cover now that’s what I immediately picture in my mind’s eye.

    I’ll pick up the first book in this series for my wife, who would absolutely give anything for her daughter. We’ll see if the theme resonates with her (I think it will).

  4. That’s what I was just thinking!

    Kudos to Jim for making me rethink all those covers, and curse him for ruining my adolescent indulgences.

  5. This sounds way cool so I ordered the first in the series. Will give it a whirl!

  6. (Er — that was NOT meant to be snide. I am dead serious. I’m a copyeditor. Her thank-you got me through a rough patch of feeling unappreciated. The second book is also extremely cool.)

  7. I read one of the short stories. It was amazing. Then I read one novels, and it was great, and another novel, which was moderately OK. Still plan to read this one, because the idea is awesome.

    Though it’s not ever the entire focus of a story, through all the books, there was a running awareness of families, and who scary it is to have a kid that you know will be the death of you. Sort of. And how happy some parents are, and how crappy some parents are.

    And getting dating/parenting advice from a thousand-year-old demon is priceless ;)

  8. Yay! New Hunter Kiss! I’ve been a fan for years. I’m on a strict no-book buying budget, so I’m hoping it’s downloadable from the library.

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