In “The Frame-Up,” a comics writer is conscripted to use her geekery — which is both deep and wide — to help catch a criminal who seems to have a taste for recreating scenes from vintage comic books. MG Martin teams up with a diligent (and delicious) cop, her friend and saucy drag queen Lawrence, and a motley assortment of others to get to the bottom of the crime.
In this e-interview, debut author Meghan Scott Molin reveals the moment the idea for the book came to her, why creating a character like MG was important to her, and what’s next for her protagonist.
Q: Tell me the origin story for “The Frame-Up.” Where did MG — and the idea for her adventure — come from?
A: Well, there is a long and a short version of this story. The short version is: I woke up laughing from a dream one morning, literally sat up and laughed in bed. My husband thought I was having a waking-dream, but once I explained that I’d had a dream about my best friend Kristi (who is a purple-haired fashion designer in real life) running through San Diego Comic-Con with a team of drag queens capturing a murderer, he said, “You should write that book.” And so I did.
The longer version of the story is that I was in the middle of re-editing a book I hoped to pitch to agents, but I could not get the “drag-queen” book out of my head. My “muse” Kristi really is a professional drag costume designer, and I’d always wanted to work that wonderful world into a book but wasn’t sure how. And seriously, one morning in the shower while I was listening to Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me, it was like bam! — MG was born. A caller (female) called in with the name of Michael, and the cocktail of ideas and the name just sort of melded in the hot water, and there she was! Fully formed.
From then on, I cheated on my editing project at every turn. I couldn’t help myself. I kept coming up with nerdy jokes, and then Lawrence. And then more nerdy jokes. I couldn’t stop. So by the time I got to the conference, my editing project wasn’t so edited, so I shared my idea for this ridiculous new book instead--and I got several full requests on the spot. So I went home and finished the book in two weeks. It was literal insanity. It still needed a lot of work, but it gave me a sense that this concept had the hook-power I’d need to get it published.
Q: What were the challenges (and opportunities) inherent in writing about a “geek girl” in the lingering shadow of #GamerGate?
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A: Not just GamerGate, but ComicsGate too! Honestly, I never set out to write a book with social commentary. I started out just writing the character I was searching to find in pleasure reading (myself): an adult nerd instead of a sixteen-year-old. What came with that though, was looking at her life, and her work life. And then listening to interviews with women writers in the field, it would be impossible to write a woman in this profession without touching on it! And there are as many hot takes on Comics/Gamer gate as there are people. My job was to look at my character, her personality and prejudices and figure out where she’d fall in her response to that.
Related to that, when I was selling my book (and looking for an agent), I heard over and over that there was no market for grown-up nerds: I needed to age it down to YA. I think the reception of “The Frame-Up” proves that this is a previously untapped market, and my little grown-up nerd heart sings that now others can read characters like them. And hopefully I’ve helped open a door for geek fiction, which is where I’d like to write for a long, long time.
Q: “The Frame-Up” is written in the present tense, which bring an immediacy to the action. Did that choice present any particular challenges as your story came together?
A: This was my first project ever written in present tense, and my editor probably wanted to strangle me. I made so many errors in tense in my first draft! But I ended up loving the immediacy and the look into MG’s brain that this afforded. Not every character can pull off first person present because you have to have a strong and voice-y world view. MG was perfect for it—like her or hate her, she’s full on her.
Q: There are quite a few comics writers at the moment who are also novelists (Benjamin Percy on Green Arrow and Nightwing and G. Willow Wilson on Ms. Marvel and Wonder Woman come to mind). Are you interested in writing comics? Do you have ideas percolating for existing characters or for characters of your own?
A: Oh that I had several lifetimes! I’d love love love to write a graphic novel someday. With two small children, a family, and a writing career that seems to be coming out of the gate pretty strong (fingers crossed!), it may have to wait a while. In the meantime, I’ll continue to adore reading authors and artists I love in my spare time.
Q: MG’s favorite comics arcs feature the Hooded Falcon. What are your favorite comics from the past and what ongoing series are you reading now?
A: Well, I came into comics via mainstream manga (Sailor Moon forever) in junior high. And then I developed an interest in Marvel around the time the X-Men franchise rebooted in the theatres. Sacrilege, I know, but I went from movies to comics. I read the “standard” mainstream ones: Spiderman, Batman (I am a gadget girl, so I just love the Bat).
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In my personal reading I tend more towards crime-fiction/Noir than straight up superhero (whereas MG is the opposite). I like plot-driven versus “X teams up with Y, smash bang boom comics” (like the Avengers). But I have to say that I downright love Guardians of the Galaxy and Deadpool, so maybe I’m growing as a fan.
I don’t have a lot of time to read, but research for my book brought me a whole host of newer comics and graphic novels to read. I’m a huge fan of anything Gail Simone writes/illustrates. Chuck Wendig’s SW stuff is right up my alley. But I just picked up Leah Moore’s Conspiracy of Ravens, and I’m excited about reading some more historical/influenced graphic novels like this!
Q: It appears “The Frame-Up” is book one of a series. How’s the next entry coming along and when might it be published?
A: We just announced that Book Two: “The Queen Con” will be published July 9, 2019! I am so excited for everyone to get a chance to read MG’s continuing adventures. There’s plenty of room left at the end of Book Two, and we’ll know soon in 2019 if there will be a Book Three!