Bestselling Author Katana Collins Discusses Writing Career, Harley Quinn, and Beyond the White Knight

Jose Carlos Serrano

Katana Collins, author of many acclaimed romance novels and today heavily invested in the comics industry, has amassed critical recognition over her many years contributing to literary pop culture. Out of sheer generosity, Collins agreed to a conversation with myself regarding not only her early and entire career collectively, but about the direction of DC’s White Knight universe, in which she has heavily contributed to; being the author of the 2020 smash-hit, White Knight Presents: Harley Quinn. During our talk, I realized that Collins’ story about how she was introduced to the field of literature, and eventually taking the art into a career, was more than just what’s simply first thought of when one thinks of how an author comes to global acknowledgement. It’s a story of pure passion, guidance, and inspiration that I believe will make a definitive impact on the next generation of creative writers that are emerging in today’s day-in-age.

Being a writer myself, and becoming greatly interested with regards to the profession, I was very intrigued when I heard Katana Collins’ recount of how she got invested in writing and her eventual success. Collins recollected becoming interested in writing at a very young age, noting the support that was given from her family, noting, “I’ve always been writing. Ever since I was a kid, I would write stories and I even had a ‘newspaper’ that I printed weekly of my family’s stories each week. It’s nice that I had a family who humored me, huh?” It was these early moments in her life that set the seed for a career of writing. Collins likewise notes that it was really in her later years in college that she settled on her passion for literature – albeit not quite knowing at first, as she elaborates on saying,  “In college, I needed one final elective to graduate, so I chose a writing class–Creative Nonfiction which I didn’t even know was a thing! I loved it so much. And my professor of that class told me that she thought I’d chosen the wrong major [photography]. But it was too late… I was literally one semester away from graduating!” Whilst not being able to major in writing due to impending graduation from her university, Collins took the opportunity of being exposed to creative literature in college as an incentive to further her passion into a full-time occupation.

After hearing what she had to say about her initial indulgence in writing, I soon became curious on how Collins got her foot in the door with many of the big publishing houses and companies that she’s a part of today. When asked regarding this matter she noted, “The story of how I got my foot in the door is a fun one! I knew I wanted to be a writer. So I took a temp job at a publishing house. I got paid very little. And getting paid very little in NYC is a very different story than getting paid very little in most other cities. But it was the best choice I ever made for my career. I got to know the editors. I helped them with as much as I could. I made friends and contacts in the industry. And the most valuable part… I got to sit in on meetings. I got to see what books they published and why they liked them. And I got to see what books they rejected and why.” By essentially emphasizing the importance of involving yourself early on with programs or smaller jobs that are related to your personal or academic interests, Collins rightfully claims that it can, in the long-run, pave the way for success, mentioning, “With [that professor from my college’s] mentorship even after I graduated, I continued writing and published my first novel in 2013.”

More on topic with the process of writing itself and Collins’ enjoyment of such, I inquired about what she herself enjoys about it. The answer to this question varies depending on who you ask and it’s very uncommon that there’s simply one streamline response. When asked, Collins’ enthusiastically responded, “Oh man. I love everything about writing! I love that I get to stay in my pajamas on some days. Truly though, my perfect day is getting up and going to write in a coffee shop. The conversations and white noise stirring around me contributes to my inspiration. And if you’re in that coffee shop with me… watch out! Because if I overhear a cool conversation, it might go into one of my books.” Her response is very much reflective of the passion and commitment that she has towards writing; in addition, how this positive outlook has influenced her projects beneficially. 

My first personal excursion into Katana Collins’s writing was with DC Comics’ White Knight Presents: Harley Quinn (2020). At the release of this novel, Collins had been publishing novels for three years shy of a decade. The book was set as a standalone novel as well as a subsequent sequel to the Black Label White Knight series created by her husband, Sean Murphy, in which a centripetal force of this universe being Joker being cured of his mental illness and becoming Jack Napier; alongside his struggles with maintaining his sanity. Focusing on this rendition of Harley established within the story canon, I grew interested in regards to what Collins wanted to explore or further develop within the Murphyverse as well as making the book her own, in which she replied, “This was something Sean and I discussed in length! It’s challenging to step into a world that’s not really your own, but carve out a piece of it in your own voice and style. The character dynamics had to remain the same, of course.  But I had the freedom to create two new villains… The Producer and The Starlet. I went with these because I have a love of old Hollywood and Gotham has such a cool vibe to it that it felt these characters would fit right in.” In response to her final point, I myself found both antagonists of the story, The Producer and The Starlet as mentioned, to be very unique and interesting; something that I’ve personally never seen before in a Batman related story. The thing I found the most riveting in addition to both antagonists was Harley herself and how Katana Collins’ masterfully humanized an otherwise inhumane character. Collins notes, “I really wanted to explore Harley as a single mother of twins. That’s a Harley Quinn we really haven’t seen before in any Batman universe. The other thing that was really important about Harley is – I know that it’s super big in canon that she falls in love with Joker while he’s Joker, and while she’s his doctor – I personally could not write that story. That was a very hard story to write and make it still organic and natural to this very smart version of Harley we had created. I think there are stories where that has effectively been done, Harleen is one of them, but it’s also been done, so if we’re not going to do something new and fresh, why do it? So for me, I really wanted to explore the idea that she fell in love with Jack [Napier], not with Joker, and that he has this disorder, like a neurodivergent disorder, that makes him almost a split personality, but that’s more two-face than it is Joker so it’s kind of a mish-mash of that. Sean mentioned it as ‘very intense bipolar’. She loves Joker because she loves Jack, and loving someone means loving all sides of them – but she takes that to the highest degree. Once you really get to know the White Knight universe with the first two books, it’s pretty easy to continue on with that humanization. ” Even with characters such as Batman himself who’s currently imprisoned within this universe in the aftermath of Curse of the White Knight, has been greatly reflected on, and speaks volumes about his current state and character; likewise his relationship with former Robin, Jason Todd. “I thought it would be really fun for everyone to see a slice of what Bruce’s life is like behind bars. The truth is, he could break out of jail anytime he wants to… but he remains in there because he believes in his sentence. As for Jason Todd, that was Sean’s idea. He wanted to tease the character since we’ll be seeing him more in other White Knight installments.”Reflecting on the portion of my question regarding how Collins wanted to make this book her own is heavily reflected in these characters which involve her own personal interests and the collaboration with the already established Gotham and White Knight Universe; offering a breath of fresh air. Collins continues on to discuss her newer involvement with graphic novels and how they compare to her publications from before noting, “They’re both really great mediums, writing novels and comics; comics are more like writing a movie. [For example with the artistry portion], it really depends on the artist you’re working with, but some artists even like you giving them camera angles [as is done with a film].”

The Starlet, one of the key  Antagonists of White Knight Presents: Harley Quinn – one  Of the most unique DC characters Introduced to date. Credit: DC Comics


Conclusively, I decided to close on the question that I had been pondering to ask since the beginning and hear the critical answer to. I went ahead and  inquired with Collins on whether Beyond would be her and Sean’s last run in this universe and if they’ll continue to stay with DC comics for the future as I noted that it’s been my absolute favorite DC storyline of all time. I asked this with the full understanding that she may not be able to give a solid answer at this current time but she responded with a reply that I sincerely was grateful to hear, “I will say that we have lots of other ideas for how to expand the Murphyverse White Knight world… if DC is interested.”


~A big thanks to Katana Collins, someone who has been such a big influence and idol with regards to my writing career and is someone who genuinely cares about others and literature.