WE HAVE AN EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW WITH COMIC AND TELEVISION WRITER MAIRGHREAD SCOTT!
DVS is starting a new series of interviews with comic creators! We are starting with a woman that has added a lot to Transformers cannon!
We met Ms. Scott at Long Beach Comic-Con in 2018. She is approachable and fun to talk to, and we wanted to share the experience with our readers. That is why we got in touch with her and asked some questions about her career and experiences!
Your biography lists your interests in comic books, Star Trek, Star Wars, Farscape, Monty Python, Dungeons & Dragons (3.5), Pathfinder, Magic: the Gathering, Pokemon, Sailor Moon, Miyazaki films, Game of Thrones, The Prisoner, mythology, and mythical zoology. Between all of this and your writing in TV and comic books, you sound like you are on your way to being a complete renaissance nerd!
I try. One of the great things about writing is that you need to know something about nearly everything, so I’ve worked hard to try and become at least passingly familiar with as much fiction and non-fiction as I can. (FYI Science books are so incredibly readable right now! Check them out!) You just never know where a good story/character/idea is going to come from next!
I’m a Star Trek: DS9 fan myself. I think it’s woefully underrated! Which is your favorite Trek series?
That’s like picking your favorite child. I’ll say I love TNG and deeply admire how much they were able to do so much with so little: so few new sets, so little backbiting on the team (which is very easy drama), so little physical action. They really showed how much drama you could get out of just confronting characters you love with hard problems and watching them struggle to do their best.
Which is funny, because I love DS9 for all the opposite reasons. The setting was so lush (even just the station) and watching characters you love struggle to navigate their totally different ideologies and priorities and still hang together was awesome!
When Voyager was on, it was so, so, on! Janeway especially was an amazing character. The episodes where the show let itself be a struggle to hang on to any kind of ideology when your survival itself was on the line was <chef’s kiss>. Year of Hell forever!
And, lastly, while I really struggle at times with Discovery, I thought Season 1’s Ash storyline was bold in a way I didn’t think network TV could be and Michelle Yeoh lights up my life whenever she’s onscreen. I think we all dream of Empress Georgiou stepping on our necks, right? Just me?
D&D fans usually have good stories of campaign follies. Give us a good story from one of your follies.
I was a two-dagger rogue in 3.5 and we were on a ship being attacked by a dragon/fish monster that shot lighting. Like you do. Anyway, I couldn’t do any damage to the thing because I had terrible ranged weapons and it kept jumping out of the water, breath-weaponing us, and then falling back in. I could never even get over its DR. So since you can stab with a dagger while grappled, I jumped in the water, let it eat me and tried to cut my way out. I don’t know that I did super-well, but I survived and got my damage in. My husband, the DM, never let me live it down, though. He’ll still comment that I’m the worst kind of reckless in RPGs and that no rational person’s goal should be getting eaten.
Your education includes a BFA in Dramatic Writing, with a TV Concentration. Did you always want to be a television/video writer?
Kind of. I wanted to write action films, but the screenwriting department wasn’t really focused on that. They wanted the Tribeca Film Festival films. Anyway, the head of the TV writing department pointed out that cartoons were 22-minute action films. He was right. I went there and I’ve never looked back.
You worked your way to your first official TV writer’s room gig with Transformers: Prime. When you hit this point, what was going through your mind?
I’m going to screw up (and I did, a lot). They’re going to fire me (and they didn’t). Every note is a failure (it’s not). I’m so, so lucky (and I was).
The thing people don’t tell you about writing professionally is that you need a certain amount of theory, but after that, you just need the practice. Writing, getting notes, re-writing. It’s like boxing. You can train all you want, but until you get in the ring, take a punch and get back up, you’ll never be a champ.
When did you start writing comic books?
Shortly after I started writing television. I’d been trying to break into comics, so when Mike Johnson (a comics writer I knew who worked for Kurtzman and Orci at the time) got a job writing a tie-in to our show he offered to bring me on as well, since I had some samples he could show and he knew I was interested. I was still the writer’s assistant as my day job so I knew more about the show’s continuity than anyone. And that’s how I finally broke in.
You have written a good set of stories for IDW Comics’ line of Transformers series like Beast Hunters, Windblade, and Rage of the Dinobots. How hard is it to be creative with such a well-known property?
I find it a lot harder to create something from whole cloth. When characters exist and they’re written well, it’s much easier for me to say “What’s next?” or “Why do they act that way?” than inventing someone new from scratch. That’s not true for everyone, but it is for me.
Windblade is the first fan-created in-continuity character in Transformers history. You had the duty of writing up her character and background. Moreover, you had to take the toy and create a character as Larry Hama did with the Diaclone toys back in the 1980s. Did you have an initial idea when you saw Windblade’s design or was it an evolving process?
I drilled down to Windblade’s character pretty fast. I had the design, and I decided from it that she was probably a very formal person because of her face paint. But I wanted to give that meaning outside of Japanese opera because Windblade couldn’t have been able to come to Japan. I also knew she had to come from some ‘outside’ race because there hadn’t been any other fembots in the IDW continuity. (Let’s not get into Arcee here.) Since John had already laid down the idea of titans and James was doing a lot with hotspots, I decided the titan colonies would be the best way to introduce her. The design on her face then came from the design on her titan, Caminus and we were off and running.
The last element that came into place was one of the “keywords” fans voted on. It was bravery, or courage, or something along those lines. But we had enough “put myself in the line of fire for my troops” type guys already, so I gave Windblade the courage to reach out an open hand, to offer a second chance, which we didn’t have a lot of in the current mix. Windblade’s specialty became diplomacy, the CitySpeaker angle became a way to make that visually interesting and since we wanted her to be truthful, we paired her against the ultimate liar, Starscream.
We used to joke that the conflict between them was that Windblade really wanted to trust Starscream, but Starscream really wanted that, too.
Your comic book stories tend to find new angles and arcs for characters. How do you find such different paths for your writing?
You just keep asking ‘why’? It’s like being a therapist for people that don’t exist. I get a character, like Starscream, and I ask “Why does he always change his body?” Well, he must be uncomfortable in it, feel insecure somehow. Okay, so why is he so cruel to Windblade? Well, Megatron was cruel to him. So instead of just being a Bad Guy, Starscream is really an insecure person who is continuing the cycle of abuse he, himself was trapped in for centuries. Now you have a story: Does he realize he’s doing this? Can he break the cycle? What would help him/hurt him in that goal?
Do you have any plans for an original series?
I do actually have an original series that will be announced this year. I can’t say the details yet, but I’m very excited. It took a long time to really flesh out the book, but I think it’s going to be something truly special. If you want to find out more, you can sign up for my monthly newsletter at www.mscottwriter.com.