Peephole In My Skull

Y Axis Update: Wonder Forge Responds

A couple weeks ago, I posted about the DC Comics-licensed board Game Justice League: Axis of Villains by kids game designer Wonder Forge. I was—justifiably—put off by the fact Wonder Forge had decided to excise Wonder Woman and the other women of the League from the game, thereby sending a message to young girls, my 6 year old daughter Cassie included, that they were not welcome to imagine themselves as part of the game. I noted the lengths I needed to go through to ‘fix’ Axis of Villains, creating chits and control pads for female superheroes to add some gender balance to the game, and called on both DC and Wonder Forge to do better.

Cassie loves superheroes, and keeping her feeling included in what is often a male-centric comic/merchandise market is an ongoing problem I talk about a lot on social media. The Axis post was just another bit of personal grousing on the topic. Not the first nor the last.

But the piece got surprising traction. I expect some of that was due to how adorable Cassie looks in her superhero costumes, but in no small part to a cross-post by The Mary Sue, which got the story out to a wider audience than my normal fanbase. In the time since, the story has collected a few hundred comments, and seen wide support and signal boost. The issues I have trying to keep my daughter comfortable in the genre community clearly resonated with countless other parents in the geek realms. To the point where the game designer took notice and responded, much to my surprise.

Even more surprising was the response itself:

Hi Peter,
We read your post about the Axis of Villains game and wanted to write back.

First off, let me just say that we screwed up, and everyone here knows it. It’s an internal regret for our team that we did not include female super heroes in the game. And it’s a personal regret because so many of us are parents of daughters, who understand firsthand the importance of developing playthings that are inclusive and convey to girls a sense that they can do or be anything. I myself am a mom of 3- and 4-year-old girls and I share your views 100%.

In any case, I wanted to let you know that as a company we really learned the lesson. For our next game, DC Super Friends Matching, we included 3 female super heroes: Wonder Woman, Batgirl, and Hawkgirl. This game is a better example of our work. (I’d love to send you a copy if you think your daughter might enjoy it.) If we ever do another run of the Axis game, we will revise it to include female characters.

I appreciate that you called us on this and held us accountable. I have shared your post with our product development team, as well as our licensing and senior management teams. It has inspired good internal dialogue on the subject and a renewed commitment to featuring female characters in our super hero games. Thanks for keeping us honest, and we hope that our future offerings will be more to your liking.

Best regards,
Kimberley Pierce on behalf of Wonder Forge team

As you can imagine, I was really thrilled to receive this message. It’s so rare to see such a positive and forward thinking response to a situation like this. It’s one small success in an ongoing struggle, but it really gave me heart. The persistent courage of Anita Sarkeesian, recent steps by the NFL, the president, and countless other brave women and men who are tired of staying quiet on gender issues has me feeling that we’re close to another tipping point in U.S. society, and we should all keep pushing.

I’m proud Cassie is already doing her part for social justice. Now, when she tells me she’s a superhero, I can honestly say, “Yes, you are.”


Posted on September 26, 2014 at 11:06 am by PeatB
Filed under Cassie, Life, Musings, My Reviews

Peat’s Reddit Books AMA

Posted by Meg

Back in July, Peat made his Reddit Books debut with an AMA (Ask Me Anything). Lots of fans asked questions as well as a few newcomers. We’ve selected some of the best answers for your perusal! You read the entire AMA here.

Reddit Books Dude

EirenakmuayWhat inspired your creation of your books magic system revolving around wards?

PVB: Symbol magic appears in almost every culture in human history, so it’s always struck me as a little odd that it wasn’t that well explored in popular fantasy. I think people relate to this form of magic naturally.

RabidNewzDo you have any plans for what you want to write after the Demon Cycle has come to a close? Do you plan to continue writing in the Demon Cycle universe, or are you going to take a stab at something totally different?

PVB: I honestly don’t know what I will do next. Not counting Skull Throne, I am currently under contract for two more Demon Cycle novels (the fifth in the quintet, and one stand-alone), and have plans for at least as many in-world novellas. At the rate I work, that is enough to last me the next 5 years or so. I don’t really have plans beyond that. There is certainly a fertile world for me to plant in here, as there are plenty of aspects of the Demon Cycle world I have yet to explore, but it may be at that point I want to take a break and try something new.

worthygoober: My first question is one of your routine. Many authors speak of falling somewhere along a linear spectrum with discovery writers and outliners at the extremes. My question is, where do you fall on the spectrum, and what is your preparation routine like when getting ready to write/plan a new book?

PVB: I think I am probably further along the outline spectrum than most (all?) authors. For instance, my stepsheet for The Skull Throne is 159 pages long and over 41,000 words. This is essentially a 159 page bulleted list of every damn thing that happens in the entire book, broken out into POV chapters.

Using that as a skeleton, I begin layering prose over the bullet points, chapter by chapter. So by the time I start “writing” I have a full map of the road ahead.

But this does not mean I don’t discover things along the way, and change course now and then, when I think it will be better for the story.

It’s not that I don’t do discovery writing, it’s just that a lot of it is done in the planning stage.

By way of comparison, the stepsheet for The Core, my next book, is currently 19 pages and about 5,000 words, and I haven’t even started working on that book. It is just my original notes from when I first pitched the quintet, along with any ideas that have popped into my head for the final volume over the ensuing years.

After I finish ST, I will spend a few weeks writing the full Core stepsheet, outlining the whole book. This will be the discovery stage, where I can make mistakes, throw shit out, and juggle chapters around. After that I will start the prose stage, where I worry less about WHAT happens and more about HOW CHARACTERS FEEL about what is happening.

The Skull Throne has a release date! March 24, 2015 in the U.S./U.K. with translations to follow. Pre-order the U.S. edition from Random House today.

Posted on September 26, 2014 at 8:00 am by megelizabeth
Filed under Appearances, Daylight War, Fans, Meg, Skull Throne
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Tweephole #37

Posted by Meg

Catch up with Peat as revises his first draft of The Skull Throne, tries in vain to delete a U2 album from his iTunes and then jets off to Morocco in frustration.

  • @PVBrett - I WANT to want an iWatch. Want to be swept off my feet again like the iPod, iPhone, iPad. But I don’t think I will. Unless it has a laser…
  • @PVBrett - Hag Bruna gets quoted in the Bucks County Courier:

Hag Bruna Quote

die cake

  • @PVBrett - I have a rational hatred for songs starting with long periods of silence.
  • @PVBrett - Listened to the free U2 album. Immediately deleted it. Then deleted it AGAIN. And a third time. IT KEEPS COMING BACK.
  • @PVBrett -
    • Really! We’re still relevant!
      We speak to the common man!
      It’s not an out of touch last gasp of an aging titan!
  • @PVBrett - I can do this all day, fellas.
  • @PVBrett - I get where it comes from, but when people use “neckbeard” as synonymous with “asshole”, it kinda makes them sound like assholes.
  • @PVBrett - Even four books in, I still come across first draft sections rife with amateur mistakes. #revising #skullthrone
  • @PVBrett - As proud as I was if the first draft of #skullthrone, I am increasingly certain the second draft will be far, far better. #revising
  • @PVBrett - Managed to exit the store without sampling the new Cadbury Screme Eggs, but it was touch & go there for a minute.
  • @PVBrett - Like any parent, I drop subtle hints Cassie should attend my alma mater.

Xavier Uni

  • @PVBrett - Seriously. RT @io9: Why did Target leave Wonder Woman out of all its Justice League gear?
  • @PVBrett - Apparently the Scots were so upset I didn’t see them on my UK tour last year they’re considering leaving the kingdom before I visit in 2015.
  • @PVBrett - Just left Casablanca. Kind of disappointed we didn’t have time to walk in to a gin joint.
  • @PVBrett - My feeds may quiet for a few days as @laurenalexg and I venture into Fes and the Sahara. Hold me, internet. I am about to go cold turkey.
  • @PVBrett - Haggling in a bazaar in a medieval Arab city. Written about it so many times, but today was my first real experience. Kind of awesome.
  • @PVBrett - When she’s older I may tell Cassie about all the time & money I spent eBay so she could have as many female Superhero Squad figures as male.
  • @PVBrett - For now I prefer she not know.
  • @PVBrett - This. RT @JRRParker: @PVBrett let’s hope as she gets older that anecdote seems increasingly quaint and old-fashioned, too.
  • @PVBrett - Told I’m too indulgent of beggars & street urchins. Suppose there are worse character flaws, but they may eat me alive in Marrakech.
  • @PVBrett - Heading into the desert, where, theoretically, there ain’t no one for to give me no pain.
  • @PVBrett - Trip to the Sahara was completely rained out. You had one job, desert. One. Job.
  • @PVBrett - At least we can honestly say we blessed the rains down in Africa.

You can also catch up with Peat in real time on Facebook or Twitter.

The Skull Throne has a release date! March 24, 2015 in the U.S./U.K. with translations to follow. Pre-order the U.S. edition from Random House today.

Posted on September 25, 2014 at 8:00 am by megelizabeth
Filed under Meg, Skull Throne, Tweephole
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Messenger’s Legacy Goes to the Printer

Posted by Meg

Subterranean Press just announced that Peat’s latest Demon Cycle novella, Messenger’s Legacy, is going to the printer’s!

Lauren K. Cannon has submitted the rest of her interior illustrations and artist Vincent Chong illustrated this beautiful limited edition dust jacket:

Messenger's Legacy limited ed dust jacket chong

All in all, this is going to be one beautiful little book. You can pre-order your very own copy of Messenger’s Legacy here.

The Skull Throne has a release date! March 24, 2015 in the U.S./U.K. with translation to follow. Pre-order the U.S. edition from Random House today.

Posted on September 24, 2014 at 8:00 am by megelizabeth
Filed under Fans, Meg, Messenger's Legacy
1 Comment »

Fan Fiction: Ariadne

Posted by Meg


If you are like me, then you have spent many, many hours reading and writing fan fiction. It starts as pure excitement to add to an already existing world, an author who as created something concrete and magical. And you want to be a part of that. Then, you start to build your own characters, your own plot lines and your own stories. Fan fiction can be a great way to expand imagination and practice writing skills. Plus, it’s just so much fun.

On Peat’s blog, we treat fan fiction in the same way we treat fan art, as an exciting dedication to the world created within the Demon Cycle. Peat is floored every time he sees someone work creatively with the story he himself has created.

You read more about Peat’s thoughts on fan fiction here.

User Scratling has been creating some fan fiction set in Thesa, and we are loving the creativity and writing. You can check out the most recent story Ariadne, or the whole archive here.

The Skull Throne has a release date! March 24, 2015 in the U.S./U.K. with translation to follow. Pre-order the U.S. edition from Random House today.

Posted on September 23, 2014 at 9:30 am by megelizabeth
Filed under Fan Art, Fans, Meg
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