An otherwordly nightmare has just arrived in the form of She Eats The Night, the first volume of a brand new graphic horror trilogy from the acclaimed and Eisner Award-winning duo behind the Monstress series—bestselling author Marjorie Liu and illustrator Sana Takeda—and available now from Abrams ComicArts.
The talent behind the new trilogy is guaranteed to turn heads on its own, as a story compared to both Crazy Rich Asians and Barry Windsor-Smith’s Monsters sets the stage for a breathtaking blend of fantasy and horror. But faced with mounting failures (both personal and professional) and the large and complicated shadows cast by their parents, Chinese American twins Milly and Billy are the perfect protagonists to dive headlong into this modern supernatural mayhem, and a truly one-of-a-kind family mystery. With the first chapter out now, Screen Rant got the chance to speak with Marjorie Liu about this re-teaming with Takeda, what new readers should prepare for, and where this trilogy is heading next.
Screen Rant: Readers have gotten a sense of the kind of story you and Sana Takeda can craft together with Monstress, but how did the idea for The Night Eaters first develop? From the first writing stage, was there a specific inspiration for this modern, supernatural, horror story?
Marjorie Liu: The Night Eaters was an unplanned book, more or less. I wrote it at the height of the pandemic, in the summer of 2020, and I’d spent the previous few months watching horror movies, gardening, and spending too much time looking at real estate listings in cities I had no intention of moving to. And then, one day, I began thinking about my Chinese family — my aunts, my grandmother — and what they would do if they ever moved into a haunted house, or encountered a ghost. And imagining that totally cheered me up, because the women in my family would fuck up the supernatural in two seconds flat. From there, it was a matter of bringing the story in, focusing on a much smaller family dynamic — parents, their children — and then feeding in some of my own personal experiences of being a child in an immigrant family.
SR: The family at the heart of this story is truly the star of the show, and I’m sure it’s one that many readers will see as a reflection of their own (at least before the supernatural horror begins). How did these characters take shape?
Very organically, coming to life as I wrote. For example, Ipo was a familiar stoic figure, an amalgam of other women in my family, with a thousand-yard stare and very high expectations. Writing her felt like writing a love letter to all of my Chinese aunts and my grandmother, who might be a bit more chatty than her in real life, but are just as terrifying and tough. The twins almost wrote themselves. There’s a lot of me in Milly — who I was in my 20’s, trying to come to terms with my decision to not practice law and write romance novels instead.
SR: On a somewhat related note, is there any ‘warning’ you could offer to readers who may have lived a far less exciting or less… tense upbringing than Milly and Billy? Does this family have any less love going on than one filled with hugs and kisses (and parents who regularly smile)?
I think there are different ways to express love that can’t be fully measured by the Hallmark ideal of affection. And I think deep down there’s an understanding that hugs, kisses, and smiles don’t always mean a parent loves us — not in the ways we need them to. Ipo isn’t used to showing affection, and yet her garden and her relationship with Keon shows that she’s filled with tremendous love — she’s just afraid to show it to her children. Whereas Keon has no problems whatsoever showering everyone around him with affection — but as the series continues we’ll see that’s another kind of mask he wears to protect his family.
SR: Obviously you have some very well-known collaboration with Sana prior to this new project, but when did you know Sana was the artist you needed for this story? (I also ask because the art style here may not be what readers of Monstress expect.)
Even as I began writing the book, I knew Sana would be the perfect artist to bring these characters to life. We’ve worked together a long time, and behind the scenes I’ve been privileged to see her many different artistic styles, one of which is this looser, energetic line that she brings to Night Eaters. That, and both of us have been hungry to try something new, to stretch ourselves creatively. The wonderful thing about Sana is that she gives each project she works on its own visual style — no two series are the same, and her work reflects that.
SR: There is so much energy and attitude in the artwork, from the chaos of the horror elements to the instantly-readable expressions on Ipo and Keon’s faces. Did that begin to shape your own writing, in either the first part of this trilogy, or the coming chapters?
For the first book, the writing came first — but Sana’s art definitely inspired me as I wrote the sequel, Her Little Reapers. It was such a delight when those pages would come in, and seeing the characters brought to life lended creative fuel to the process of telling the next chapter: about what happens when your life changes, but you don’t want to change with it.
SR: She Eats The Night is, on its surface, a very contemporary urban horror story. But that only makes it more surprising when diving into a much deeper, far more layered fantasy. Did one side of this horror come before the other when you were writing it?
It’s hard to say much without spoiling the book, but I knew from the beginning that there was a much larger world beneath the surface, one that would be peeled back, revealed in bits and pieces. I wanted this to be a horror story, with the promise of something more complex and interesting waiting behind the wings — and that the reader should bear witness to this at the same time as the twins, almost as an act of solidarity.
SR: Readers will learn from She Eats The Night that the sky really is the limit when it comes to the story coming in the next two parts of the trilogy, so what can you say about what’s to come?
As I alluded to earlier, the twins find themselves at a crossroads — they have important choices to make, and so do their parents. But that doesn’t mean any of them feel ready to make those choices. And procrastination has a price, particularly in matters of life and death.
The Night Eaters: She Eats The Night is available now wherever books are sold, and direct through Abrams ComicArts.
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