Dear Watchers: an omniversal comic book podcast

On this special episode of Dear Watchers, we have an AUTHOR INTERVIEW! Join in on our conversation with Marsheila Rockwell, author of the Marvel Untold Story: Sisters of Sorcery (a Clea novel), 7 SYKOS, Dungeons & Dragons tie-in novels (Skein of Shadows, The Shard Axe, Legacy of Wolves), a Mafia III video game tie-in novel, Xena: Warrior Princess tie-in novels, an Evil Dead 2 comic book, and much more short fiction, prose, and poetry!

Show Notes

Ep. 65 Interview: Conversation with Marsheila Rockwell
On this special episode of Dear Watchers, we have an AUTHOR INTERVIEW! Join in on our conversation with Marsheila Rockwell, author of the Marvel Untold Story: Sisters of Sorcery (a Clea novel starring Clea Strange, Agatha Harkness, Patsy Walker aka Hellcat, Talisman of Alpha Flight, & many others), 7 SYKOS, Dungeons & Dragons tie-in novels (Skein of Shadows, The Shard Axe, Legacy of Wolves), a Mafia III video game tie-in novel, Xena: Warrior Princess tie-in novels, an Evil Dead 2 comic book, and much more short fiction, prose, and poetry!

Follow Marsheila Rockwell on Twitter
Visit Marcy's website
Order "Sisters of Sorcery (A Marvel Untold Story)" wherever you buy books or from the publisher

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Creators & Guests

guido of earth-1218 🏳️‍🌈🇨🇺🤓
working in education, background in public health, lover of: collecting, comics, games, antiques, ephemera, movies, music, activism, writing, and on + on...
Robert Ribar
Queer Nerd for Horror, Rock N Roll and Comics (in that order). Co-Host of @dearwatchers a Marvel What If and Omniverse Podcast
Marsheila Rock-HELL the Word Witch ✍🏼🔮🔪 & ♿️♈️
Award-nominated SFFH author/poet, Chippewa/RR Métis, cancer🎗/proud 🏳️‍⚧️ mom, married to @jeffmariotte, Husker 🏈 fan, maybe a 🧙🏼‍♀️? BQ = GENOCIDE. She/her

What is Dear Watchers: an omniversal comic book podcast?

Dear Watchers is a weekly comic book podcast through the omniverse where your Watchers Guido and Rob explore a different multiverse each episode, from Marvel’s What If to DC’s Elseworlds and far beyond. Join as we discuss the stories that were inspired by and take inspiration from each week’s alternate universe. Includes special episodes with guest creators, scholars and fellow podcasters to share their favorite trips to the multiverse and help ponder the possibilities of what lies ahead for comics and storytelling. For bonus episodes:

Rob: Welcome to Dear Watchers, a comic book Omniverse podcast where we do a deep dive into the multiverse.
Guido: We are travelling through the stories and the worlds that inspire and make up the alternate universes we all love. And your watchers on this journey are.
Rob: Me Kiddo and Me Rob, and an extra very special guest you will meet in a few moments.
Guido: So before we do that though, we have a huge announcement. Whatever platform you are listening to this episode on, you probably saw uploaded to the show a few days ago, a new trailer. This trailer, uh, was our announcements segment and it shared how you can become a supporter of the show. You can join us and get access to our brand new show, Omniversity. All of that is in the announcement. So we invite you to listen to that and go to where you can click Join to learn more and hear us a second time every week if you want.
Rob: Mhm exciting. I wonder what that announcement said.
Guido: More than that, but basically yes, exactly. Yes.
Rob: Well, yeah, listen to that. Go to We have a website. I'm going to guess a lot of people have never been to the website, so check it out. You can listen to the podcast right from there too.
Guido: But, uh, this episode here is really exciting.
Rob: Yes. So this conversation was really eye opening. Uh, it was so great to kind of go behind the scenes of the industry. Also talk a lot about representation, especially indigenous and native representation too. So, Guido, what was one of your biggest takeaways from the conversation?
Guido: Well, I think so. We talked to Marshala Rockwell, an author. I think maybe it was worth mentioning that before you started. And Marcy, she's done a lot of tiein work, including her most recent book out just last week, Sisters of Sorcery, a Marvel untold novel on CLIA. And it was so interesting to hear how she does all of her tiein work, how the business end of things works with tiein and licensed pros, but then even in her world building, how she chooses characters and as, uh, she said, how she takes them off the shelf to play with, but makes sure she can put them back at the end. So, a lot in this on how to work in worlds that are existing, but also a lot on these marvel witches that a lot of people don't talk about. But she just wrote a whole book of. So I think there's something in here people are going to really enjoy. So let's jump into today's conversation.
Rob: Yes. And with that, dear Watchers, welcome to episode 65 and let's check out what's happening in the multiverse with today's conversation. So we are here and joined by our extra special guest, member of the Council of Watchers, Marshilla Rockwell. Hi, Marcy.
Marsheila Rockwell: Hi. How are you guys doing?
Rob: Doing so well. Super excited for you to be with us today.
Guido: And thank you.
Marsheila Rockwell: Thank you, guys. I'm really excited, too.
Guido: And thank you to Carrie Harris, who connected us with you. Our former guest, Carrie, was on an episode sometime last year, and I'm so excited that she made the introduction for us to you.
Marsheila Rockwell: I am, too. She is. She's the best. I love her.
Rob: In person at Comic Con because this fun podcast grills you kind of feel like you meet people on Twitter and in podcasts, but, you know, you haven't actually met them. So we're hoping that we'll actually get to meet Carrie very soon.
Guido: Very soon.
Marsheila Rockwell: Well, you will love her in person.
Rob: I'm sure we will. And before Marcy, we get in deeper conversation with you, guido is going to introduce our listeners to who you are.
Guido: All right. So, Marcy, please correct anything. I have a lot to share about the work that you've done and the things about it that we're really excited about. So, Marcy, Marshiela Rockwell is a writer, an editor, a poet. She's written novels. She writes short fiction. She, uh, was a civil engineer. She lives in the mountains. And I would call her an environmentalist. I don't know if she'd use that word, but I would use it. She's a continual learner about the native cultures she descends from. She has also won a number of awards for her writing scribe Awards, Dorfstars Awards, Riesling Awards, and more. She's written in a number of short fiction collections, but she's also written some full length novels, including the Dungeons and Dragons online. tieins. There are two of those dungeons and Dragons RPG, tiein novel, a mafia video game tiein novel, a Zena trilogy of books left tragically unfinished with your husband and sometimes writing partner Jeff Marriott, who, by the way, I loved 25 years ago because The Watcher's Guide to Buffy was one of my favorite books in the world. So as soon as I saw his name in your bio, I was like, hold on. I know who that is. But we're here to focus on you today. Uh, you've also written Neil Gaiman's Lady Justice trilogy, also never released those tieins. They're tough. You wrote part of an Evil Dead two comic, an original novel with Jeff called Seven Psychos. That's psychos Sykos and most recently released just last week from when this episode is airing, sisters of Sorcery, a Marvel untold book from Akonite Press, who now have close to 20, I think, prose books out from their Marvel storyline. And you have some forthcoming comics, forthcoming tabletop RPGs. You launched a coffee page, which we also now have two. So I was glad to see that you can support Marcy and she can write you poems on there. She's been a guest at some comiccons in her area in the Southwest earlier this year. I have to recommend a really fascinating interview that Marcy did on the speculative Sandbox podcast, all about some villain tropes. So, Marcy, thank you for joining us.
Marsheila Rockwell: So much thank you so much. Um, I do have a quick correction. Okay. I actually did not win any of those awards. I was nominated for them.
Guido: Um, well, being nominated is winning in some people's books.
Marsheila Rockwell: That is true. Um, I'm dating myself with this, but I like to call myself the Susan Lucci of the, uh, world because I have been nominated so many times and have yet to win.
Guido: She did ultimately win. So you'll get there.
Rob: Yes, that's true. Well, thank you. Thank you, Gito, for that bio, and thank you, Marcy, for being here. Super amazing, um, a body of work that you have. And thank you, everyone who is joining us today. So, if you're listening, for the first time, we have three sections, origins of the Story, exploring, multiversity, and Pondering Possibilities. And while we often explore the comic book Omniverse with these, we are thrilled to speak with Marcy in these three sections for this special episode. So, with that dear watchers, let's head to the Omniverse with special guest Marsheela Rockwell for our Origins of the Story. We want your origin, Marcy. So we have a few questions to kick us off.
Guido: So, one thing I saw is that you remember the first book or the first book you remember reading. It's some of the highest fantasy there is and some of the most classic fantasy there is. So can you tell us more about that memory and that book and your relationship to it?
Marsheila Rockwell: Uh, sure. I learned to read very young. I was three years old. Um, I was in the Head Start program, and, um, my mom tells a story, or told a story I don't remember this myself, but she always told the story that I came home one day, uh, from Head Start and said, well, I don't have to go to school anymore. I've learned how to read, so I know everything there is to know. So that was not true. But I have learned how to read, um, and Osma of Oz. I'm sure there were, like, little kids books that had been read to me or I had read prior to that, but, um, Osma is the one that has always stuck in my head. It was one of the older versions with hardcover, uh, with all of the illustrations inside. And I thought she was so beautiful. Um, I wanted to be her. Everybody wants to be Dorothy, right? But I never wanted to be Dorothy because Dorothy grew up poor and plain, and I was already poor and plain. So I didn't want to be that. I wanted to be Osma. Um, uh, I'm a huge Wonder Woman fan. You probably got that from what you read. Um, to me, she was sort of my prototypical Wonder Woman because she epitomized strength through kindness and love. Um, and she was able to rule, um, without ever resorting to some of the tactics you see in the real world. It was always just kindness and understanding and all the things that we would really like to have in the real world, but maybe someday.
Guido: It's so amazing that that's the character that left such an imprint, because I can see that all over your work. I can see elements of the way you just described asthma in. Um, what I've gotten to know of your work is Osma the one in returned to Oz with the interchangeable heads?
Rob: No, Oza is the one that she is in return to Oz, though.
Guido: Yeah, I don't know the Oz world that well. So was Osma sort of an entry point into the world of Oz for you? Did you then read everything else, or was it really just about Ozma for you?
Marsheila Rockwell: I, um, imagined that I might have read wizard of US first, and so I was already familiar, um, with the concept and Dorothy and all of that. But like I said, she's the one that sticks in my mind.
Rob: There's something about those books because I was saying togo right before, uh, you jumped on Mars. I think one of the first books I read was an 89 wizard of Oz sequel, dorothy of Oz by one of the bombs great great grandsons or something like that. But there's just such an entry point to people who then like fantasy and superhero worlds through those kind of books. Like, there's something about that world, and of course, about the 39 movie that is just this great starter kit for getting into fantasy.
Marsheila Rockwell: For sure. Yeah, definitely.
Guido: And so can you tell us more now about how you then started to see yourself and do work as a storyteller? What was that journey from reading asthma through to you building your own world?
Marsheila Rockwell: Well, I mean, to get a little serious, I didn't have the greatest childhood. Um, but one thing was that my house was always filled with books, and so books were my escape, right? That's how I got through everything that I got through. And so I always wanted to be able to provide that to other people. That's why so much of my stuff is fantasy. And oddly, uh, why so much of it is dark, fantasy and horror. Because I think there's, um, some catharsis in reading horror because it's not happening to you, it's happening to someone else. And usually horror often ends with on a note of hope. Um, and, uh, even though I'm known for dark and twisty ending, um, I do like to infuse a little bit of hope because, um, that's what I got from reading. And so that's what I want to give other people.
Rob: The same way I got into horror, too, was that there is that kind of hopeful quality that is actually in a lot of things. Sometimes the villain does win, but even then, there's this kind of shining light that kind of runs through things, and you're able to be that one step removed from our own reality, right?
Marsheila Rockwell: It's safe.
Guido: And mhm, you call yourself a castle builder. Can you tell us more about that?
Marsheila Rockwell: Well, um, part of that is just because I love the poem, um, that's on my website, which I actually cannot quote for you. I used to be able to, but.
Guido: It was longfellow, right?
Marsheila Rockwell: Yes. Um, but it seemed perfect, um, because the, ah, poem talks about building these castles high and fair in the air. So it was clear that it wasn't actual buildings, it was imaginary construction. So I took that conceit, um, because that's what I do. I build these imaginary worlds, or, ah, in the case of tie and fiction, I expand or write stories in imaginary worlds that already exist, um, for people to come and loose themselves in for a few hours, hopefully.
Rob: Mhm, do you think that your background as an engineer played a role in that? Because I'm hearing talking about building, constructing, sometimes playing within the rules that are already established, which often can also be maybe in engineering as well. Do you see a connection between that and your storytelling?
Marsheila Rockwell: I, um, think that there probably is a connection in that. Like, if I come up with a unique magic system for my world, I have to have rules for it. You should, anyway, if you're writing in your world building, everything should make sense, even if all of that stuff never makes it on the page. I'm sorry if that was me and my obnoxious neighbors.
Rob: Okay?
Marsheila Rockwell: But just from the logical side of things, everything has to make sense. Everything has to fit. Even if it's in an imaginary world where the rules are different. You have to follow the rules. You can't just, at the end of the book, um, come in and have something just, like, magically happen. Like, uh, the example that you see most often is that suddenly the character gets a fourth wish. Even when the genie had set up front, it was only three. So, um, if you say three wishes, you have to stick to three wishes. I'm pretty much a stickler for that. And I do think some of that comes from the same mindset that led me to be an engineer. But in reality, um, I became an engineer because at the time, I was really good at math and science, and, uh, I thought engineers made a ton of money. So I thought that I would work as an engineer for a few years and then I would be able to retire and write full time. Nobody told me that. Uh, at the time, it may still be true, but at the time, civil engineers were the worst paid of all the engineers. Um, so that plan did not work.
Guido: And the inspiration for that had to do with living growing up on a Superfund site. Right.
Marsheila Rockwell: Um, that wasn't really my inspiration for, uh, becoming an engineer. Um, ah, through the course of my engineering career, I did start to focus more on things like stormwater management and environmental regulations excuse me, um, and environmental permitting. I would have really liked to have been able to get a law degree, um, in environmental law. But, uh, at the time, I was a single mom and there was just I couldn't make 36 hours in a day, so there was no way that was going to happen. Um, the last job I worked at before a, ah, car accident forcibly retired me, um, was as an environmental compliance specialist. Uh, in that capacity, my background, uh, of having grown up on a super fun site was, uh, actually pretty relevant. Um, and obviously I want to make sure that no site ever gets that far, uh, and that we clean up the ones that are that bad. Um, they say that that site has been cleaned up and they put a golf course there, but I would never play on that golf course and I would not recommend to anybody else that they play on that golf course. But, you know, you do.
Rob: Well, I'm thinking too. Uh, do you think that there is also Marcia connection between your writing so much about witches, including in the new work, and this kind of connection to the Earth? Because we've seen such a revival in Folkar and which is from the Robert Edgers movie to lots of new work coming out. And there seems to be that connection to the Earth and almost an environmentalism that I think is often, ah, through line in the modern depiction of the witch.
Marsheila Rockwell: I think, um, writing about witches is a good way to explore environmental issues, um, without coming off as being preachy or because if somebody thinks that you're trying to tell them what to think and they don't want to read what you're writing. But if you can introduce certain concepts or ideas through a fantasy or dark fantasy kind of setting, um, usually people are more open to that or they don't even realize that they're open to that. Uh, but I've been interested in magic, uh, since I was very, very little. So, um, it has grown been able to tie the things, those things together. But I don't know if that was my original impetus for, um, being drawn to witchcraft and writing about it. Well, you know, Oz. Not Oz. She could do magic. She was basically a witch, even though they didn't call her that. It's always been there.
Guido: Well, before we get to the Sisters of Sorcery and your relationship to the Marvel Universe, I do want to talk a bit more about the other tiein work you've done, because you've done a lot of Thai in work. And I want to talk a little bit about sort of how those projects come about and how you choose the characters that you're going to work with when you're in a world that has existing rules and that has existing, perhaps limits. And yes, you've done so many, from again, video games to the Dungeons and Dragons to Xena. So just tell us a little bit more about those projects and what you like, or what's perhaps a challenge or an opportunity in tiein work that you see.
Marsheila Rockwell: Um. Well I started with the Dungeons and Dragons work at the time was their brand new setting. Eboron. Uh. Which is sort of dark fantasy steampunk with noir elements and it was really cool and it was a brand new setting. So I had the opportunity to help make things that would actually sort of be in game then. Which is not something that you often get to do with Italian property because you don't often get in on the ground floor. So that was something that was pretty cool. And I met a lot of, um, other writers that I'm still really good friends with to this day. So that was a really cool opportunity for me and it opened a lot of doors. Um, tiein writing is really one of those, uh, writing niches where it really is a lot about contacts and networking. Um, so once I had written the book, my, uh, first book, I joined the, um, international association of Media Tie in Writers. They're the ones that I didn't know that existed. Um, and obviously it's for tiein writers and it has sort of expanded over the years to include graphic novels and even, um, now like teleplays TV shows, TV episodes and that sort of thing. Um, but then licensers, uh, of IPS intellectual properties, they would have a list of all the people who wrote people that they knew had already been vetted, basically, and um, some of whom they had worked with before, and some of them they hadn't. But um, yeah, I just totally lost my train of thought, sorry. Um, but with Tie and Work, it's a little bit different from writing an original novel. With an original novel you write the thing, the whole thing, and then you send it out and hopefully somebody buys it and then pays you. With ah, tie in work, you write a really detailed outline, um, which the licenser and the IP holder have to approve and license or an IP holder are not always the same, like for Sisters of sorcery the license or um, it's like Akinite. I'm not sure that's exactly their roles, but just as an example, like it would kind of be analogous to Akonite and then the IP holder is marvel, so then you have a couple layers of approvals that you have to go through and sometimes there are many more. Um. But you have to get an outline that's approved by everybody and then you get paid based on that outline and then you write the book M. So they want to know that you can deliver. That you can meet deadlines. That you can play by the rules. Um. Take stuff off the shelf. Play with it in your world and then put it back up on the shelf without having done anything lasting to it. Um, and a uh, lot of the um, time work that I wound up doing was with my husband Jeff. Um, the Zena trilogy we co wrote together. Uh, the um, Neil Gaiman trilogy, which is really some of my best work that I was doing at the time and I'm so disappointed that it just wound up in licensing limbo. But I um, actually got that job because I had worked with the editor previously, um, on some tie in short fiction. So it really is a world that's all about networking. Um, but there are other ways. Um, I was just going to say that's not the only way to get in. Sometimes, uh, places have open calls, like Warhammer used to have open calls all the time once a year. I don't know if they still do. Um, I have one friend who uh, an editor read a short story of hers online and loved it and contacted her and to see if she would want to write a book. There are lots of different ways to get into the world, but to stay in the world, it's who you know.
Guido: And the things that haven't seen the light of day to the extent that you can share, are those just m back end business things with the licenser, maybe losing the rights or the IP owner maybe changing direction? Why does that seem like perhaps it's more prevalent? I mean, maybe it's not more prevalent, but at least in your work history it seems more prevalent with the tiein stuff that there's projects that just were never able to be completed or never saw the light of day.
Marsheila Rockwell: Um, what often happens is, uh, the license or gets a distribution deal, right? Because they can get somebody to write the book, but if they can't get the book out in the world, it's not going to make them any money. Um, and so a lot of times if that distribution deal falls through and they aren't able to get um, another one that is profitable enough to them to continue on with the project, then they'll just shelve it. So it doesn't matter that they've already paid for it. That's a small, um, usually that's a drop in the bucket for them and it's a tax write off. So your years of work or somebody else's tax write off.
Guido: Yeah, sadly something we're seeing very publicly with Warner Brothers right now happening.
Marsheila Rockwell: Yes.
Guido: And so how did Sisters of Sorcery come about?
Marsheila Rockwell: Yes, um, well, acknowledge is actually one of those places ah, where you can um, kind of get your foot in the door without having a lot of time experience. Um, on their website they ah, have a little thing that says write for us. And you can submit a story sample writing sample and then your CV of the Cayenne work that you have done in the past and other work. Um, and so I did that and, uh, they contacted me and said, hey, we're going to put you on our list. And when we have open calls, they're not open open, right. But they're open to the people who are on the list. Um, then if there's anything that you think looks appealing, you can send us pitches. And if we like your pitches, then maybe we'll go forward. Um, so, uh, I got on the list, they sent out, uh, one of their newsletters with, um, they were looking for Marvel Untold novels, um, with, if I remember correctly, like Kick Ass Witches. And so I submitted a couple of different ideas, um, which the editor liked. Um, and we kind of expanded them a little bit and, um, sent them to Marble. And then Marble came back with, we like these, but what do you think about doing a CLIA novel? Because she wasn't one of the characters that I had originally pitched.
Guido: Oh, she wasn't?
Marsheila Rockwell: Wow. Okay. My original pitches had the egg at the Harkness. I really wanted to do her because the Agatha Harkness in one division is not the comic book egg at the Harkness. Um, the comic book egothness is much older, much, um, more powerful, and probably, uh, uh, I don't know if your guys are rated PG or not, but probably a much bigger Beat.
Guido: Definitely think that's true.
Marsheila Rockwell: Um, and she's also older, right? She doesn't have to present as older because she's a witch. She could make herself look any age m, but she presents as older as an old woman. And that's how she is in almost all of the comic books. Um, and nobody ever does anything with older women in comic books. Ah, in fantasy, it's like you have to be in their 20s, maybe in your early thirty s or your nothing. Right? And I don't like that because older women are one of the biggest consumers of fantasy because we grew up, um, reading it and they don't get to see themselves represented on the page. And I wanted to change that. So that was a, um, big reason that I wanted to do Agatha. And I was really glad that I was able to put her in the Kia book.
Guido: Yeah, she does make a great appearance. As I mentioned before, we started recording, I'm reading the book, I haven't finished it, but she is in there. And so they came back to you and said, you want to write a CLIA novel? So what was the next step? Did you have to build the outline or sort of do they give you any direction beyond just CLIA?
Marsheila Rockwell: Um, I mean, sometimes they do, sometimes they don't. Sometimes they say, we kind of would like to see this kind of storyline. And I'm speaking generally here, I'm not just about any IP holder. And sometimes they say, we'd like to see these characters. Ah, and they don't necessarily give you any sort of, um, guidelines for what they want you to do with those characters. They just want those characters. Um, so, uh, in this case, if I recall correctly, it was mostly just about CLIA with a team of kick ass wishes. So it wasn't that much different from what I had already kind of been pitching. It just required some tweaking. Um, I was able to make it a lot more fun, I think, because all of a sudden, now I had a whole group and, um, instead of just one person. And that opens up the possibility for different, uh, POVs, which mhm can always be really fun, especially when all of your characters are very strong willed and very opinionated about the other characters.
Guido: Yeah, there's some great character interplay in there, especially in the first few chapters with Patsy and CLIA that I really liked to read. It, ah, was fun and dynamics.
Rob: Um, an IP holder like Marvel or any other IP holder. Do they give you kind of the archive? Do they let you access? Here are some of the old comics that Leah is in, or here's the old episodes of this TV show. Or here's some of the other Dungeons and Dragons stuff to work from. Are they providing that for you?
Marsheila Rockwell: It depends on the IP holder. Um, with Marvel, I was like, no, I had to get the comics I needed myself. Um, so I spent a lot of time on, uh, Ebay and, uh, comics Ology, which is now part of Amazon Lone Star comics, which they have a lot of comics on there that you can't get other places. So that was nice. But because I did a deep dive into CLA, she has been around for a really long time.
Rob: That's why a lot of characters, um.
Guido: M, I'm interested to know where a lot of them came from. Did you have any history with Marvel comics in terms of being a fan or consuming stories from Marvel?
Marsheila Rockwell: Um, I grew up, uh, reading like the Defenders. Uh, Hellcat actually been a favorite of mine, uh, when I was younger. Uh, Scarlett, which of course, um, uh, Valkyrie. I really liked Medusa because I just loved that her hair could kill people. Not that she ever killed people with her hair, the idea that she could, because I had really long hair at the time. So I guess it was just appealing to me. Yeah, I definitely was a consumer of, um, the comics when I was younger. And, um, when I was a little bit older, I read Alpha Flight, uh, because I lived in Montana, and Alpha Flight, they're Canadian. So that was like the closest I was going to get to hometown Heroes.
Guido: Yeah, I was wondering how a dream queen got in the book. I, uh, was wondering if you were an Alpha Flight fan or you found her for a reason. So that's fun.
Marsheila Rockwell: Yeah, well, she. Is, uh, sort of, uh, elizabeth two young men's main foil. Uh, when she, when Elizabeth, uh, comes into her power, I guess, um, it's sparked by a, ah, plot of the Dream Queen. So, I mean, they're intertwined from the very beginning of Elizabeth, uh, journey as the Talisman. So since I had the opportunity to add her, um, I felt like it was important because they are just, their stories are pretty interwoven.
Guido: Mhm. Another character you open with actually is Ardina, who appeared in three issues of a 2002 miniseries. So how does a character like that were you familiar with the mini series? So this is Ardena, who was created from the Silver Surfer. She's like a golden, um, Silver Surfer character created from him. Were you familiar with her? Were you seeking her out? Was she a suggestion from Marvel or your editor atkinite or how did someone like her come into play?
Marsheila Rockwell: Um, I was just reading a lot of the comics, uh, with Kia in them, and I, uh, think I came across that storyline and I thought, okay, well, here's an incredible source of power. Who she's, uh, not like the Silver Surfer. She hasn't come into it yet. She doesn't necessarily know how to use it. Um, so she could be co opted pretty easily. Uh, and CLIA helped create her. And I don't know what the writers were thinking, but they had CLIA as one of the deities that she invoked in her spell was her mother, Umar. So it seemed to me like it was sort of like a perfect storm there. Mhm, um, in addition to which, having created Ardena, uh, even though there were other people involved, she was the one who stabbed the Silver Surfer in the back and got his blood. Um, she has been responsible for what happens to her. And so there was another layer of motivation and guilt that I could play on in the novel. So it's just when I came across that character, she just seemed perfect for what I wanted to do.
Guido: And then how do you come up with the rules and what rules are given to you from the IP holder in this case? So I'm thinking about like, where this story is placed. We know from our interview with Carrie, uh, that the Aconite books are not meant to be like prime six, m one six universe stories, but they're meant to be very close, that they could almost be within the core universe. So how did you figure out sort of where to place this story and how to have there be real development, real stakes, but not impact the universe in a way that perhaps you weren't allowed to or didn't want to disrupt, as you say, be able to put the toys back on the shelf? So how do you think about that when you approach something like this?
Marsheila Rockwell: I read so many comics, all, um, the, ah, Agatha Harkness comics, all the alpha Flight comics. All, uh, the ones with KLIA, some, um, of the hellcat ones, even though she isn't in the book for a long period. Even, uh, Holly LaDonna, I came up with her because she's in like, three issues of Vision, uh, and the Scarlet Witch, uh, which was like, back in the nobody even remembers it, but she was there. She was Wanda's pupil and then wanted to have her fake babies and just dropped her. You never saw her again. So I'm like, well, one, um, of the rules is we can't create new powered characters, but she m was already there. Mhm right. Nobody had done anything with her. So I'm like, I'm grabbing her because it would seem logical that if she had been a pupil of Wandas, that Agatha might have an interest in her. Maybe it was a stretch. I don't know. I don't care.
Guido: No, I love that inclusion. I did have to look her up, but I love being cold. Once I looked her up, I was like, oh, yes, there she is.
Rob: A deep cut. If Keto had to look her up, way, way deep.
Marsheila Rockwell: Um, and I have to tell you, probably this is where the engineering part came in. I mean, I looked at the dates, I made sure that all the characters were like, uh, there was no storyline that included them during this time, where they were all together for the story. And when I submitted my final long synopsis, it was Footnoted.
Rob: Wow.
Marsheila Rockwell: There was like a page of Footnotes that said, this happened in this comic book. And, um, this character didn't appear again until this comic book. So they're available in this time slot. And same thing with this character. And same thing with this character. So they were all free to be used in this time period. So I could use them and then put them back and it wouldn't affect any other storyline that was going on.
Guido: Well, I noticed Scarlett Witch is written as just generally busy, which is why she agatha gets pulled in. Was that your choice, or was that like, Scarlett? Ah, which is off limits if you're allowed to share that. I don't know.
Marsheila Rockwell: I mean, I probably could have used her as a cameo or something. Um, but, uh, at the time, she wasn't like, I know Agatha says that she's indisposed or whatever, but, uh, that was after, uh, Avengers disassembled, where she kind of went crazy and Magneto took her off. And she kind of doesn't really appear in the comics again for a while, at least they go back and set stories into that time period. But, uh, in terms of actual physical comics coming out, uh, she's in therapy because she had a big nervous breakdown. Um, and Agatha is still dead because I don't think Agatha gets resurrected until spoiler alert. Um, 2015, there's a Scarlet Witch run on the witches road. And at the end of that egg if it gets resurrected. So that's why that's the main reason that Scarlett, uh, witch was not there and mhm Agatha was sort of handling her calls during that period.
Guido: Yeah, I like that. And what synergy are you aware? Maybe a lot of it happens at the IP and licenser relationship side. But with the MCU being so huge, as you said, like Agatha being a huge thing. And, you know, uh, it's not lost on me that, like, this book got announced a few weeks before CLIA shows up in the MCU, uh, as, uh, a big surprise to everyone. I mean, uh, did you have any inkling of that? Do you think that's a motivating factor? Like, do you think that's why Marvel is asking for a CLIA thing to be written? Or do you have any sense of what kind of synergy there is to the on screen universe?
Marsheila Rockwell: Um I don't know anything. Uh, and if I did, I couldn't tell you. Because I will tell you that previously, ah, when they first brought her up, uh, I had been reading I was really interested in seeing the Doctor Strange two movie. And I had read some rumors that CLIA might show up in that movie. So I was like, well, that's a really good reason to write a clear book. But there were rumors out there. And there's always rumors that some characters going to show up somewhere, right? You can't trust them. Um, so I didn't know if it was going to happen. But even if it didn't happen, just the fact that they were revisiting Doctor Strange and she has such a history with him, I figured it couldn't hurt the book, right. So it was a win win for me. Whatever Marvel's, uh, motivation for asking for a clear novel was, uh, it worked for me. So I never got it.
Guido: Well, the other tie in, I don't know if you are watching SheHulk. Are you watching SheHulk?
Marsheila Rockwell: Yeah.
Guido: Um, because you have Wong as a fan of soap operas in this book. And Wong in. SheHulk is watching like the sopranos. And there's that whole episode with Madison that's so great, where he's just hanging out and watching TV. And as soon as I read in your book that Patty said she was going to be watching soap operas with Wong, I was like, oh my gosh. What is it about Wang that there were two stories about him? HM. Sitting around watching TV at the same time, clearly not related to each other. But you predicted the MCU Wong would be a soap opera fan.
Marsheila Rockwell: I mean, doesn't he just seem like the kind of guy no, really? He's stuck in that brownstone, not in the MCU. I mean, he gets to do a lot more stuff in the MCU, but in the comics, he's stuck in the road some all day long. Of course he's going to watch daytime TV. He's basically a 50s housewife. Even though he has martial art skills and magic skills. I mean, for a long time he was just utilized as a male fiftys housewife. So like okay, well then he's going to watch soap operas and curious too.
Rob: Marcy, what is your experience with alternate universes in storytelling? We talked about that. This book is six one six adjacent. So it is in its own alternate universe. So are you a fan of multiversal stories?
Marsheila Rockwell: It depends on how it's handled. Like, for instance, I don't really like time travel stories because, uh, I feel like it's the engineering me. I feel like nobody really deals with the repercussions, like how they would really be. This little thing changed. Every little decision we make in our life creates ripples. If you step on that butterfly, it's going to have way more ripples than just it's going to have way more ripples than just what is being shown in whatever thing that you're watching. It's going to affect things all over the place. The whole thing with Chaos Theory and all of that. So no time travel story really takes that into account. And comic, um, books are some of the worst, but, you know, it's all in good fun. So I try to move my engineer brain out of the way so I can just enjoy the story. If you start applying that rule, then nothing makes sense. And you just wouldn't ever read a comic book because it's like this is ludicrous.
Rob: Yeah.
Guido: We just thought there's a way we're both fans of stories that maintain an internal logic. Even if you have to suspend disbelief, it makes some sense. And I feel like that's a lot of what you're saying is it's hard when a story just suspends logic and anything is possible because it lowers the stakes a lot too.
Marsheila Rockwell: Right.
Guido: We like things that, uh, clearly all three of us, like ongoing serialized storytelling, big world building. And so you want it all to mean something and feel connected, I think.
Marsheila Rockwell: Right? I mean, I just don't want the author or whoever is, uh, writing the story, I don't want them to cheat. Right. M, set up rules, follow the rules, don't cheat at the very end. Because then I throw the book across the room and never watch a television show again or anything else you ever do. Um, because I can't trust you anymore. I can't trust your storytelling because you cheated. Um, I do like, um, the idea that they introduced in ah, Doctor Strange Two with the incursions, um, like the fact that he went to these places and changed things there and that created problems in other realities. Because that to me, is more of taking into effect that you change one thing, one place, it's going to affect every place.
Guido: The impact.
Marsheila Rockwell: Yeah. So I was glad to see that, and I'm looking forward to seeing what they do with that idea.
Guido: Yeah, well, perhaps when we see Clay on the big screen again. Maybe, uh, I don't know what the rules are on them, like option in your story. I can use elements of your story, but I'm sure we'll see part of uh, just the DNA of the character that you really brought to light here on um, screen and Charlie's their own.
Marsheila Rockwell: Um, as far as that goes, uh, when you write tie in work, you don't own the copyright, right? So um, sometimes you don't even get to have your name on it. M, but um, uh, Marvel isn't like that. Obviously they let you put your name on it, which is great. Um, some properties don't, but uh, regardless, you don't own the copyright and like if you create new characters, um, those aren't your characters anymore. You can't go on and use that character in some other place. It's not yours. They can do whatever they want with my story that I wrote with Kia and I'm not going to see another dime unless a lot more people go out and buy my book because of it.
Guido: Right? Yeah, exactly. Which is what I think we can hope for because it really is a great pocket of the universe that you're exploring here. We didn't even get to talk about. I was so glad to see Margali Shardos because she is an Xmen character through and through and to see her in here was lots of fun. So you have a lot of deep pulls for people who like Marvel witches that they haven't seen on the comics in a long time or they haven't seen even fully fleshed out in the comics. So it's great to see them here.
Marsheila Rockwell: Yeah. Um oh, sorry, I just wanted to m, that was also one of the reasons that, uh, I wanted to do Elizabeth Two Young Men. Um, because I am Native America. I'm Native American. I'm chippewan my tea. And um, while you're starting to see more of it with the voices and the heritage lines and all of that, um, for a long time there weren't really too many native writers and they certainly weren't writing the native characters. Mhm, so um, I thought it was important that if I could and it just so happened that there was a native character who was a magic user who could actually tie into this story really well. Um, I wanted to write a native character and bring a the correct viewpoint to her, uh, character and what she does and why she does it. Um, but uh, also a respectful characterization, uh, which a um, lot of times in the past they have not been terribly respectful. M, so I wanted to, I saw this as an opportunity to kind of try and correct that. Excuse me. Like for instance, um, uh, Elizabeth has always described as Sarsi and Sarsie is not the name of her people. That's the name other people gave them. And that's, um, the thing with a lot of Indian nations. Um, they're called something, but that's not the name they call themselves. That's what somebody else called them. And so it's not super respectful to call them M by that name, especially because those names are usually slurs. Sarsi is actually a slur. So I hated saying that every time in the comic books. And so I was glad that I was able to change it to what it's supposed to be, the Satina Nation. So, anyway, I just had to get that in there. Sorry.
Guido: Yeah, it's really powerful, and I hope that other writers follow suit when they have the opportunity to write her or in other versions of that same story, because that is true for so many characters, especially Native, as you mentioned.
Rob: Yeah. And I think we, uh, hopefully are moving towards more of an inclusive future in comics and other media, which we've talked about with some other guests and some of those special lines, uh, that you mentioned, Marcy. But as we kind of wrap up, let's talk just a little bit more about the future of world building and storytelling.
Guido: What do you hope people get out of your work, I guess, moving forward?
Marsheila Rockwell: This book in particular, or just my body of work in general?
Guido: Both. We could start with Sisters of Sorcery and then step back to just look at all of the work you've put into the world and we'll keep putting out So. Yeah, both of them.
Marsheila Rockwell: Um, well, for Sisters of Sorcery, first of all, I hope they just enjoy the story and have fun with it. Um, I hope it makes them think about some things. Um, there are some issues in there that I bring up, and I don't think I'm preachy about them, but just kind of bring them up and let people think about them. Um, and there's a lot in here that focuses, uh, on different aspects of mother daughter relationships, um, and familial relationships as a whole. And I think that that's, uh, an important theme. It's not something I write about a ton, but, uh, obviously you couldn't write a book, uh, with Kalia facing Umar and have it not be about a mother daughter thing. Um, but, yeah, mostly I just hope they have fun with it. Um, with, uh, a lot of my other work, I don't sit down with the intent of sending some kind of message. Um, I sit down with the intent of it would be really cool to do this. What if I did this? And what if I took this fairy tale, but I twisted it just this little way so it didn't turn out like everybody thinks it should have turned out. Um, probably a lot of my stories that I do twist that way, uh, wind up empowering women. So I guess I'm a little bit of a feminist, so people definitely should expect that in what I write. And yeah, dark and twisty, that's me.
Guido: Well, I think that makes for some great storytelling. I, for one, can't wait to finish Sisters of Sorcery and I hope our listeners pick up a copy. And what are the best ways for people to support you? Obviously buying the book from anywhere. Doesn't matter. Do you have any place, uh, you want to direct people to support Sisters of Sorcery and all of your work?
Marsheila Rockwell: Um, it's always better if you can if you can get it from your local independent bookstore. Um, even if they don't have that on the shelf, you can, uh, ask them to order it. Um, it just supports a small business and is better for your community. Um, I understand that there's a lot of things that you can't get anywhere but Amazon. Um, and I'm not going to be one of those authors that rails on you forgetting stuff because I probably get an order from Amazon a week because there's stuff that we need here that we just can't get locally. Um, but yeah, support your local indie bookstore. One of the ones we have in our area is Changing Hands, so definitely shout out to them. Um, Poison Pen is another one, although they don't really carry fantasy, they're more mystery. Uh, so you wouldn't be able to get my book. There probably lots of other great ones. Um, online I'm most active on Twitter. Um, my username there is Marcyrockwell. Um, I do have a website, um, I, uh, have a blog that's linked. Uh, it's there on the blog, I'm sorry, on the website, but there's also a mirrored version of it on Dreamwidth. I, um, have a Facebook page. Um, search Marcia La Rockwell. You'll find it. I have an Instagram page, which is also, but that one is, um, on hiatus. And I actually did take down my coffee page, um, because I have a new novel under contract with a short deadline. Um, so I really want, uh, to need to focus on that. So I'm kind of limiting the social media outlets that I'm giving my energy to so I can focus on the book and get it done on time.
Guido: Any hints at what's to come? What novel? Anything you can tell us?
Marsheila Rockwell: Um, I can tell you that I have a nondisclosure agreement.
Guido: Well, we can't wait. You've written so many awesome tie ins and I'm glad that we're going to keep getting more from different worlds you step into. And I can't wait for you to keep telling stories. So thank you.
Marsheila Rockwell: Thank you so much. I really appreciate your kind words and I appreciate you having me on here to talk about my stories and just me and everything. I really appreciate that. You guys are very kind.
Rob: Thank you.
Guido: It's been our pleasure. And thank you for listening to your watchers. I have been Guido.
Rob: And I have been Rob. And we're going to link to Marcia's accounts and how to get her books in the show notes. So check those out.
Guido: Yes, and a huge thanks again to Marshala Rockwell, our guest. You can follow us on Twitter at.
Rob: Uh dear watchers and leave a review wherever you listen to podcasts. We'll be back soon with another trip through the multiverse.
Guido: In the meantime, in the words of Watch, you keep pondering the possibilities.