This January a new Red Sonja mini-series kicks off called Vulture's Circle and it's written by Nancy A. Collins and Luke Lieberman. Byron Brewer chatted with Collins about writing the more mature Sonja.
NANCY COLLINS: She's capable of being a bad-ass, but also is loyal to her friends and has a sense of humor, which makes her both easy and fun to write for.
BB: I do not believe I have ever seen a depiction of an older Sonja. Has this been done before and who came up with the idea this time around for Vulture's Circle?
NC: I'm not sure, to tell you the truth. There have been "Queen Sonja" stories, which occur later in her life, but I don't know exactly how old Queen Sonja is supposed to be. In Vulture's Circle she's clearly in her late 40s/early 50s.
BB: How are you and Luke Lieberman sharing writing duties? Tell us about the process.
NC: There's a lot of back-and-forth between Luke and me. He came up with the plot for the series, which I then expanded on. I write a full first draft script, which Luke then revises/adds to as he sees fit, and then I go over it for final formatting/tweaks.
NC: Well, besides some wrinkles and gray hair, the most important changes are 1) she no longer wears her famous chainmail bikini, and 2) she is genuinely battle-weary, which is what lead her to retire from being a sword-for-hire. She is both older and wiser, but it came at a cost. She is far more hesitant about throwing herself into the heat of battle than she used to be, but at the same time her sense of honor won't let her stand aside and do nothing.
BB: Tell us a bit about Sonja's school for sword-maidens and how it came about in the continuity.
NC: Sonja came up with the idea while recovering from a battle wound that came close to killing her. It is both a means of passing on her hard-won knowledge to a new generation of female warriors—more than she could ever have given birth to, herself—and appeasing Scáthach, the Queen of Swords, the war-goddess of her ancestors, to whose service she is dedicated, for quitting the battlefield.
BB: Tell us about Sonja's students, Lyla and Xoana. How are they like/different from a young Sonja and how are they alike/different from each other?
NC: Well, Lyla is a Shemite and an archer. She is an orphaned slave Sonja purchased in order to free her. Xoana is a Zingaran and trained to fight with the net and trident—what was known in the gladiatorial games as a retiarius (net-fighter). She is also the bastard daughter of a nobleman, sent away for her own protection. Lyla tends to be more impulsive than her best friend, Xoana, who has a cooler head, a strong sense of responsibility and the instincts of a natural leader. Lyla and Xoana are as close as sisters and have each other's backs.
BB: The Son of Set? Wow. How will he threaten the kingdoms of the Hyborian Age?
NC: By effectively blitzkrieging across the civilized kingdoms with the help of demons, hell-beasts, and a legion of ghouls. Oh, and snakes. Lots of snakes. Sutekh has the ability to create undead shock-troops, known as The Eaters of the Dead, by sucking out the souls of those who oppose him, leaving behind walking corpses with a hunger for human flesh. His ultimate goal is to enslave the races of Man, destroy all other gods, and reclaim the world in the name of his father in order to turn it back into a primordial swamp full of serpents and monster lizards so Set can return and rule supreme. Needless to say, Red Sonja has something to say about all this.