Showing posts with label Superhero Prose. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Superhero Prose. Show all posts

Friday, July 24, 2015

Derrick Ferguson Dons Cape And Cowl To Review USED TO BE: THE KID RAPSCALLION STORY



You know that old wheeze about as soon as a person comes into of a lot of money it changes them? I subscribe to a different theory. I think that acquiring a lot of money just makes you more of what you already are. If you were a generous, giving person before you became rich, chances are you’ll do more charity work with that money and help to make somebody’s world a little bit brighter. If you were an asshole before you became rich then the odds are that now that you have an AmEx Centurian card, you’re a raging asshole.

What has all this got to do with Mark Bosuquet’s superhero novel; USED TO BE: THE KID RAPSCALLION STORY? Because most of the characters in his novel follow this principal, I think. Their superpowers just make them more of what they already are. Take our POV character, Jason Kitmore aka Kid Rapscallion. Orphaned at an early age and adopted by the superhero Rapscallion to be his sidekick he’s sexually abused (and not by whom you’re thinking of either) He takes designer drugs to enhance his physical abilities and be a proper superhero. Is it any wonder as an adult, out on his own and no longer just a sidekick he becomes hooked on cocaine and kinky sex? As I got deeper into the novel and more of Jason’s personality was explored and revealed I realized what Mark was doing. In the hands of a lesser writer he would have let Jason off the hook and skewed us into feeling sorry for Jason, leading us to think that Jason never had a chance in life. But I don’t think that such is the case. I think that Jason Kitmore would have been a mightily screwed up individual without the sexual abuse, the drugs or the superpowers. Such is the strength of the voice of that character.

And that is what pulled me through USED TO BE: THE KID RAPSCALLION STORY. The voices of the characters who are all so strong and so individual that I was actually hearing them in my head (that doesn’t happen nearly as much as it should when I’m reading a book these days) with their own inflections and distinctive speech patterns. And since the book takes us inside mark’s superhero community and shows us the people behind the costumes and superpowers it’s important that we know who’s talking as soon as they speak. And there was never a point where I had to go back and re-read a paragraph because I was confused as to who was saying what to whom.

Sure, this being a modern day superhero novel there is an abundance of profanity, sex and drug use. But Mark isn’t using it to shock. And most certainly if you’ve been reading comic books for the past fifteen years then I don’t think there’s anything here that you already haven’t seen. And to be honest, he explores certain aspects of superpower enhanced sex I’ve always wondered about (oh, come on…like you haven’t thought what the sex life of Bouncing Boy and Duo Damsel or Mr. Fantastic and The Invisible Woman must be like) Especially the relationship between Kid Rapscallion and Duplication Girl which is…unique, to put it mildly.

Mark goes ahead and takes the risk of telling his story in the present tense and he jumps back and forth in time. I say risk because if you’re not willing to invest the time and let the story unfold the way it has to in order to get to where it and you has to go, then you’re going to get frustrated. And you shouldn’t. The disconnected chronology is the prose equivalent of how most people tell a story verbally. They jump around. They forget important points and have to go back to fill in those points. They emphasize and polish up their own behavior while misrepresenting the motives and behavior of others. Mark uses the technique quite well to build suspense at key points of the narrative, especially when the 9/11 terrorist attack happens and catches the superhero community totally by surprise and everybody scrambles around trying to cover their own asses.

Should you read USED TO BE: THE KID RAPSCALLION STORY? If you’ve read Mark Bosuquet’s other works then I don’t have to give you the hard sell. You know his talents as a writer and you know that he delivers a solid piece of entertainment every time he steps up. If you’ve never read anything by Mark before I’d actually recommend you try “The Haunting of Kraken Moor” first but that’s because it’s my favorite thing he’s written so far. And I think it’s a good way to ease you into Mark’s style and his approach to storytelling. But hey, if you’re a superhero fan (and aren’t all of us superhero fans by now?) then you certainly won’t be wasting your time or your money with USED TO BE: THE KID RAPSCALLION STORY.

File Size: 426 KB
Print Length: 296 pages
Page Numbers Source ISBN: 151413537X
Publisher: Space Buggy Press (June 16, 2015)
Publication Date: June 16, 2015
Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
Language: English
ASIN: B00Z1RJQ6Q





Monday, June 29, 2015

Kickin' The Willy Bobo With...KIPJO K. EWERS

Derrick Ferguson: Who is Kipjo K. Ewers?

Kipjo K. Ewers: I am a first generation born of Jamaican descent from two of the greatest parents a kid like me could ever have. They kept me on the straight and narrow, while not wanting for anything. They pushed the value of a good education, being a good person, and reaching for whatever goals I aspired to as long as it did not hurt others. Formerly from Mount Vernon, I went to Catholic school all my life from grade school to college. As a kid growing up, I was heavily into martial arts, comic books, professional wrestling, Kung Fu movies, anime, writing and storytelling. My brothers and I would use either our G.I Joes or Transformers and play out these complex storylines that sometimes lasted all day and into our next play day. 

Now that I am older I’m still into martial arts though not as heavy (big fan of MMA and the UFC).  I’m a sword collector (I have my own set of Conan Father and Atlantean swords from the Arnold movie among others). I still watch anime from time to time, and I collect comics although I’m more selective with what I collect. I also make kitbash action figures; basically you take a base model twelve inch action figure and customize it. It’s a pretty cool and expensive hobby. I made my own Gen 13 characters, and a Dark Knight movie version of Batgirl. My other hobby is 3D artwork, I use programs like Poser Pro (2012 and 2014), DAZ 3D, and Photoshop Element to create them. I’m also a huge Star Wars fan, and will be dressing like a Jedi for the upcoming movie. So all in all I am a big Jamaican-American geek.



DF: Where do you live and what do you do to keep the bill collectors away?

KKE: I reside with my lovely wife in New Jersey.  I currently work in Risk Management Corporate Banking.

DF: Tell us a little something about your background.

KKE: I went to college for Business Administration while minoring in English. I self-taught myself 3D digital artwork because I wanted to put visuals to some of the ideas in my head. I’ve been doing my own artwork for about eight years.

DF: How long have you been writing?

KKE: I’ve been writing since I was seven years old, sporadically in my teens and young adult years. I never really published anything until now. I wrote a comic book with my younger brother who is currently an artist when I was twelve (we didn’t have a title for that one).  The story was about four of his superhero characters and one of mine which I called Infra Man. He was a Japanese anime version of Iron Man. I believe the plot of the story was that they were trying to stop some type of invasion. 

The second comic book we worked on with our cousin who was the designated ink man was titled “Letterman”. The hero “Letterman” was based off of a rap song from K-Solo. I remember finding the book a couple of years ago buried in our old room in our parent’s house and still being impressed with what we did. The first two novels I tried to write were titled “Armageddon Bioborg” and “The Dragon Princess”. I never finished either, but I still have them, and might complete and publish them one day. I wrote matches for wrestling e-feds, which are like versions of fantasy football. It was a simple hobby, but I realized now how much it kept my writing skills sharp by creating storylines and sometimes writing out full matches. Won me a slew of championships, I even have a couple of actual championship belt trophies that were mailed to me.

DF: What’s your philosophy of writing?

KKE: I like to write like I'm doing a movie, and when you shoot a movie you don't always shoot the first scene. Sometimes you shoot the end, the middle, that's how I like to write until I get a full chapter. I separate the chapters into different word documents so I don't confuse myself.

Afterwards, when I have written all of the chapters in full, I just combine them, adding and taking stuff out, until the story slowly comes together and becomes one. After that I can usually do two or three edits and then I send it to a professional editor.

I believe in writing from my soul and heart and not compromising or apologizing for anything. Writers I believe that don't compromise their work, and write with raw passion are the best and most powerful types of writers, as long as they're getting a message across, and it makes sense to the story.

I also believe in having fun with my writing. It's supposed to be fun. You’re creating worlds, characters, and having adventures. So I just play! Because the more fun I have, the more I believe people will enjoy what I wrote!

DF: What are your influences?

KKE: I’ve read all of the Robotech novels that were written by Jack McKinney, which in my opinion were way better than the anime series. I am also a fan of Shakespeare, “A Midsummer Night's Dream” is one of my favorite stories from him. For comic books it’s Stan “The Man” Lee of course. Geoff John’s magnificent run of the Green Lantern’s “Blackest Night Series” is what actually got me back into comic books. I also loved Greg Pak’s work, especially his run with Marvel’s Hulk.

Finally as both a writer and director I have to say Kevin Smith. I saw “Clerks” at a friend’s house when I was in college, and I have been a fan of his work ever since. I’ve seen all of his movies, and two of his Q&A sessions. Watching “Too Fat for 40” and “Kevin Smith: Burn in Hell”, where actually what finally pushed me over the edge to both write and publish something. Hearing about how his father died, and about how you have to have passion about what you do before you die is what struck a chord with me.

DF: What audience are you trying to reach with your work? Is there an audience for Kipjo K. Ewers?

KKE: My novel is for fans of superheroes, science fiction, and action adventure. People who have already read it have said they enjoyed the thriller aspect to it, and others love the characters personality wise both good and bad. It’s a thinking person’s superhero origin story that turns left when you think it’s turning right.

DF: What is The EVO Universe?  How and when did you create it?

KKE: The EVO Universe is an expanding superhuman universe within my novel series “The First”, which was created after the events of the first book. EVO is the term used for superhuman in the story, which is the next step of evolution of man. 



DF: Tell us about the character of Sophia Dennison.

KKE: The character Sophia Dennison is a normal woman, with normal dreams of having a career, wanting a loving marriage with children, and then one day her normal world is ripped away and destroyed through no fault of her own. Then after four years of being powerless and suffering her world literally comes to an end. Except by a miracle of sorts, as her old world came to an end, she was reborn so to speak with amazing powers and abilities. She uses these new abilities to escape prison, and find out who turned her old world upside down.

DF: Tell us about THE FIRST

KKE: “The First” is a superhero origin story of Sophia Dennison. Wrongly tried and convicted of the murder of her husband, she is executed in Texas via lethal injection. However Sophia does not die, she resurrects with superhuman strength, overpowering several correctional officers until she is brutally gunned down. But to everyone’s shock and dismay, she resurrects again. Completely healed, this time she is bullet proof and much stronger than her first death. She breaks out of prison and is on the run where she learns about her abilities and hunts for the answers as to who framed her for her husband’s murder.

DF: Tell us about THE FIRST: EVO UPRISING

KKE: “The First: EVO Uprising” is the aftermath of “The First” eight years later. Due to Sophia’s indirect actions of saving the West Coast she has changed the world. Through her, many people across the planet have been gifted with superhuman abilities. Some use their abilities for good taking up the mantel of heroes, others for evil becoming villains, while others join and form super human military units within their respective countries building towards another possible Cold War. Unable to fit in with the race she was once a part of, and unwilling to embrace the race she created, she lives a life of semi-isolation using her power and abilities to help people as she sees fit taking no mantle. However a new threat to the planet will force her to not only confront several spectrums of her past, but her possible destiny.



DF: Where does the story of Sophia Dennison go from here?

KKE: Right now I am holding off on writing the third novel to work on a spin-off novel for one of the major characters in the second novel. It will be titled “Eye of Ra”.  I imagine more adventures for Sophia in the near future and the further expansion of the EVO Universe with many more characters.



DF: What’s A Day In The Life of Kipjo K. Ewers like?

KKE: Rise and shine at 7 AM in the morning, breakfast either at home or at work depending on the time. Off to work in a corporate office, hit the gym for forty-five minutes, and then home after 5 PM. When I get home the fun begins. I spend some time with the Mrs., get on the computer to either work on my artwork or write. Right now I’m just taking time from writing to promote the novel as much as possible and get in the faces as many readers as I can. 

Derrick Ferguson: Anything else we should know?

Kipjo K. Ewers: Currently we’re in the works of doing an actual comic book series on “The First” that we hope to release in 2016. We will soon be re-releasing the alternate cover novel with a new cover, and added digital content. It will contain some concept artwork of characters from the novel, and a digital comic preview of Chapter 1 and part of Chapter 2 that readers can re-read.

Monday, December 29, 2014

Kickin' The Willy Bobo With...RAYMOND EMBRACK

Derrick Ferguson: Who is Raymond Embrack?
Raymond Embrack: Escritor independiente de la ficcion


DF: Where do you live and what do you do to keep the bill collectors away?
RE: Currently in Los Angeles with years in an unnamed position in an unnamed industry.

DF: Tell us a little something about your background.
RE: Some film, some theater, some science fiction. Nothing much. Planning to start a new background in the future.

DF: How long have you been writing?
RE: Since 1978.

DF: What writers have influenced you?
RE: Harlan Ellison. Ernest Tidyman. James Ellroy. Hunter S. Thompson. Iceberg Slim. Andrew Vachss. Quentin Tarantino. Walter Mosely. Elmore Leonard. Robert B. Parker. Mickey Spillane.

DF: What’s your philosophy of writing?
RE: Never be boring. Leave out the slow parts. Write books that are non-stop pleasure. Write like books have to compete with video games, blockbuster movies, strippers and cocaine.

DF: How important is it to follow your instincts while writing?
RE: Always. But I’m learning the critical instinct to question everything, including my instincts.

DF: Are you interested in critics or criticism?
RE: Of my stuff? Your criticism helped me rewrite my first superhero novel. I don’t think a writer can improve without criticism. But that opinion is subject to change too.

DF: Do you crave recognition?
RE: Anything that hard to get deserves to be craved, hunted down, taken, beheaded then eaten. It has taken a long time.

DF: What audience are you trying to reach with your work? Is there an audience for Raymond Embrack?
RE: I write for outlaw bikers and Japanese strippers. I made the mistake of writing the work before defining the audience. Maybe I’ll do better next time.

DF: How do you use social media to promote your writing?
RE: That’s something I’m still figuring out.

DF: One of the things I love about your writing is that it so fearlessly non-PC and for me that’s refreshing. Was that a conscious decision on your part or did your writing just develop that way over time?
RE: Why does the best stuff tend to be anti-PC? It just is. For better or worse I have always gone for that in my writing. To me there’s no point in holding back.

DF: Who is Peter Surf? Where did he come from and why does he make you want to write about him?
RE: Surf has been around since the 1990s. He got his name from the music in “Pulp Fiction”. From there my action hero took shape. Surf is a comedian, a badass, a killer. Surf is not an anti-hero, he is my version of the most interesting man in the world. That is a guy who does all things with swagger. Is he a male fantasy? I can’t pretend he’s a realistic character. The action hero exists to hit that sweet spot just short of the mask & cape.


DF: I love the concept of Blonde City. Where did that come from?
RE: For me there was more escapism value in making up a city than using an existing and probably over-used setting. It gives me way more to play with. This is America’s newest city, one made of sudden wealth, gloss and hype. It only hires policemen who are hot. It gives the homeless lipstick.

DF: Which Peter Surf novel was your favorite to write?
RE: Has to be The Guns of Tony Franciosa. I took it off the market just so I could keep rewriting it.


DF: What is the future of Peter Surf?
RE: He seems a few books short, so more Surf will happen.

DF: Perhaps my favorite book of yours I’ve read so far is EL MOROCCO.  It’s the swingin’ 60s on crack. What was the inspiration for that story and the characters?
RE: The inspiration was John Ridley’s “A Conversation with the Mann” his comedian/swingin’ 60s novel. Had to write my own version, plus I’m a fan of the “Mad Men era.”


DF: How much of a superhero fan are you?
RE: I’m an unfrozen fan. I have to work my way up to “nerd.” Real nerds read and watch everything and know all. After years focused on crime fiction, I’m returning to the thing I started with. I now get that the superhero can be as ambitious a character to write but one even closer to the brain’s pleasure center.

DF: Marvel or DC?
RE: DC

DF: Who are some of your favorite comic book writers?
RE: Howard Chaykin. Alan Moore. Neil Gaiman. Ed Brubaker. Scott Snyder.

DF: Your five favorite superheroes?
RE: Batman. The Hulk. The Black Panther. Rorschach. Black Canary.

DF: Explain the concept behind the AXIS Superhero Novels.
RE: Typically superheroes exist in a world where comic book superheroes never existed. In the AXIS world they exist in this world with its same comic book culture. That is only possible when somehow the reality follows the archetype. I took that premise and fused it with my older sci-fi concept of an alien that takes the form of an Earth city.  That formed the AXIS concept.


I wouldn’t call it “alternate history” more like “alternate present.” In 1970, from nowhere the city of Brutalia appeared in one day. It is the only city where superpowers exist. Outside the city superpowers cease to exist. There, three major organizations are at war, AXIS, the superheroes who seek to keep superpowers from reaching the outside world; the OGD (Order of Global Domination) the supervillains who seek to export superpowers to conquer the outside world; O.U.T.S.I.D.E., superheroes seeking to export superpowers to benefit the outside world.

Oddly enough, I see these characters with the realism I don’t see Peter Surf. These are not anti-heroes or anti-supervillains, they are multidimensional people redefined by gestalt myth made reality. Their superpowers are their career. Both AXIS and the OGD have Washington lobbyists. Like real people, they don’t all automatically invent new super identities, they become existing fictional superheroes, as when one of them attempted to become a real Wonder Woman. The leader of AXIS becomes the (fictional) KM Comics brand superheroes of his teens.

The novels are themselves a process as, from an amnesiac fog, Brutalia, its people, their memory, its mysteries, and the culture around it evolves, mutates, take shape. There is room for years of this to come.

DF: The AXIS Superhero Novels are quite explicit when it comes to sex and violence. Again, was this a conscious decision on your part or did the novels just develop that way over time?
RE: That’s what they are, adult content in comic book terms. The superheroes and supervillains are adults at play with real weapons. The sex and violence are unleashed id. I see the art by Howard Chaykin with splattered heads and “Black Kiss” nymphos.

DF: Are there graphic novels or comic books based on characters from the AXIS Superhero Novels planned for the future?
RE: In 2015 AXIS will start going visual. The plan involves art, graphic comix and novels and animated films. And merch. In the future there will be action figures. Someday, a Taco Bell tie-in.

DF: Have you thought about opening up the AXIS Universe to other writers in a fashion similar to the “Wild Cards” series?
RE: That never occurred to me. I don’t think other writers want a piece of this.

DF: What is the future of the AXIS Universe?
RE: There will be more new superheroes and supervillains. The Carousel will change his name to Spinrax. There will be more like Bag of Green Army Men that take place in the multiverse of KM Comics. I have a thing for steampunk, so I see an AXIS steampunk series.

DF: What are your plans for your writing career? Where is Raymond Embrack going to be five years from now?
RE: Going full time writer. Five years from now: even more full time with extra full time.

DF: What are you working on now?
RE: Planning the next Surf novel and the next AXIS novel, both to write in 2015.

DF: What’s a typical Day in the Life of Raymond Embrack like?
RE: It begins in the compound known as Embrack Wonderland. Report to the day job, which is at home, at a desktop. Maybe lunch at Fat Sal’s. Whistle blows. Return to Wonderland. When an Embrack novel is in production, writing may occur.

DF: Recommend a book, a TV show and a movie.
BOOK: The Storm Giants by Pearce Hansen
TV SHOW: The Pleasure (Playboy TV Latin America)
MOVIE: The Raid 2

Derrick Ferguson: Anything else we need to know?
Raymond Embrack: This has been boss. Thanks for letting me kick it with you, Derrick.




Monday, October 6, 2014

Kickin' The Willy Bobo With FRANK BYRNS

Derrick Ferguson: Who is Frank Byrns?

Frank Byrns: Let's find out together!



DF: Where do you live and what do you do the keep the repo men from your door?

FB: I live in Maryland, just about halfway between Washington and Baltimore. We move frequently to keep the repo men from our door. (The first sentence of this answer won't help in that regard.) Or, alternately, I work in the exciting world of third party logistics.

DF: Tell us something about your background.

FB: I grew up in a small town in North Carolina, went to school at Wake Forest University (Go Deacs!), lived in Arizona for a bit as the husband of an itinerant grad student, then settled down in the DMV region almost fifteen years ago. I worked for a while in retail management for a series of professional sports teams, then worked almost ten years for the Smithsonian Institution.

DF: How long have you been writing?

FB: All my life, I guess? I have a whole stack of Robin Hood stories I wrote in second grade, and some GI Joe stories from third grade that are only slightly worse. But I've been writing seriously (as in occasionally for money) for the last ten years or so.

DF: What’s your philosophy of writing?
FB: I like to show and not tell, but even more importantly, I like to say and not tell. But those are the same things, you're thinking, and you might be right. I like for the characters to say things, rather than the narrator to tell things. I think one of my strongest suits as a writer is that I write pretty good dialogue, and you can reveal a lot of character through dialogue. If it's done right -- done wrong, it can be pretty terrible. So it's a balancing act, without turning into Basil Exposition. I like it when characters say one thing but mean another, and that's all pretty clear to the reader. That's the sweet spot.

I've written stories that are all dialogue, without even so much as a single dialogue tag, and I think they turned out pretty well. (And on the subject of dialogue tags: it's SAID. Always SAID. SAID, SAID, SAID. Nothing else. Let the words the character says tell you how they said them.)

I'm also not a big fan of a lot of flowery description or language. The language gets in the way of the story, and the description gets in the way of the reader's imagination. But I could read James Lee Burke describe the way a swamp smells for five pages, so I dunno. Your mileage may vary.

DF: What audience are your trying to reach with your work? Is there an audience out there for Frank Byrns?

FB: I have to hope so, right? Otherwise, why bother?
I do write a lot of stuff that lands in a weird gray area; they are superhero stories enjoyed by people who don't always like superhero stories, and at the same time, people that like traditional superhero stories may not like my stuff because of the tone and the pace and the occasional lack of action (sometimes I write thrilling stories about a conversation between two people sitting on a roof, things like that). I've tried forcing some action scenes into stories, but they feel exactly that -- forced. So I take them right back out.

I don't know -- I guess people who prefer the human side of superhuman. Something like that.

I write stories with supervillains that worry that their kids are turning out just like them. (Don't we all?)  Parents who are afraid to let their superhero children out into the world alone. (Aren't we all?) Parents who still love their supervillain children, even after everything. (Don't we all?) I'm sensing a trend here....



DF: Before we get into ADONIS MORGAN: NOBODY SPECIAL, let’s talk a bit about the superhero prose genre and your place in it. The most obvious question being: why write superhero prose stories?

FB: I started writing superhero prose superhero stories a little over ten years ago, and when I did, I didn't know if there was anyone else out there doing the same thing. I naturally assumed that there were -- I'm not that original -- but I didn't know them or how to find them. Kurt Busiek's work on Marvels and Astro City was a big influence that I was reading at the time. I thought those books somehow made superheroes more real and more wondrous at the same time by making a crucial distinction: instead of showing us what it would be like it superheroes lived in our world, what would it be like if we lived in theirs? They weren't realistic, obviously, but the human emotion in the stories was real, and that really appealed to me as a reader, and eventually, as a writer. 


Gradually, I stumbled across other folks doing the same thing -- Frank Fradella and Sean Taylor and Tom Waltz at iHero / Cyber Age Adventures, Matt Hiebert at Superhero Fiction, and later, Nick Ahlhelm at Metahuman Press. Then, of course, I threw my own hat in the ring by publishing A Thousand Faces: the Quarterly Journal of Superhuman Fiction. I started that in 2007, and it ran for 14 issues before I shut it down. I tried to publish the kinds of superhero stories I like to read, things a little more thoughtful and a little less actionful. Through that experience, I met a lot of other superhero writers who have also become friends: T Mike McCurley, Hg, Andrew Salmon, Josh Reynolds, Van Allen Plexico, Rob Rogers, Ian Healy -- a lot of names that will sound familiar to fans of the New Pulp movement. It's been interesting to see superhero fiction get folded under this much larger tent of late -- I'm excited to see where it goes from here.



DF: When did your love of superheroes begin? And what is it about superheroes that speak to all of us?

FB: I can't remember a time when I didn't love superheroes. I read tons of comics as a kid -- my favorite was GI Joe, but that got me into other stuff, Captain America and The Avengers, specifically. I watched Superfriends and the old Adam West Batman, all of the usual touchstones. I went away from superheroes for a while in high school through college, but got back into it with Astro City. I love that book. That, and Bendis' run on Daredevil are what got me back into comics.

I think the chance to put on a mask and be someone else for a while really appeals to a lot of people. To live outside the law -- on either side of it, really, when you get down to it -- and not have to rely on anyone else than your own awesome ability? To be able to fly? Men have dreamed about flying since the first time they saw a bird. How could that not speak to every one of us?

DF: The main drawback of superhero prose is that you don’t have an artist assisting in the storytelling. Is that a drawback for you? Or have you found a way to make that work in your favor?

FB: Nope -- not a drawback to me at all. You have to approach it like writing any other story. You're not writing a comic book without pictures, you're writing a story about superheroes. Comic books are not a genre, they're a medium, but the two (superheroes and comics) are so endlessly conflated, it's very hard to separate. A great mystery story wouldn't work better as a comic book; some probably would, but some work better as movies, too.

Here's what I mean: I looooooooove the movie Unbreakable. I still claim it to be the best superhero movie ever made. But I think it would be hard to tell that story in a comic format. But certain kinds of superhero stories only really work as comics. I can't imagine a Grant Morrison comic as a novel. Those DC novels they produced in the past few years -- Infinity Crisis, 52, etc. -- adapting their big event comics? I didn't think they were very good.

When I was working with Pro Se Press on the cover design for Nobody Special, it was really hard for me. I don't think about the Adonis stories visually at all. I had names for some of the bad guys -- had to call them something -- but costumes? Nothing. I barely know what Adonis looks like, and I've been writing these stories off and on for ten years. Some of them I don't even know what their powers are. I know that's a weird way to approach a superhero story, but that's how I'm wired, I guess.

DF: Tell us about ADONIS MORGAN: NOBODY SPECIAL.

FB: Nobody Special is a collection of five stories featuring the guy who has turned out to be my most popular character, Adonis Morgan. He's a guy who used to be a superhero, but to use his own phrase, "it didn't take." Something happened a few years ago that caused him to hang up the cape and mask and the whole bit -- but just exactly what happened is up in the air. (Either I don't know or I ain't saying, your mileage may vary.) But at any rate, he just can't quite shake his past.



So five stories, one set in each of the past five years. There's "Hollywood Ending", the first Adonis story I wrote over ten years ago (it's a reprint, but it's sort of the origin story, so I thought I should include it here), with Adonis working in LA as a movie stuntman and actor. The second one, "Red Carpet Blues", picks up about a year later, and he's working as a limo driver. The third, "April Fools", excerpts the Adonis segments from a mosaic novella I wrote a few years back called "Friday". Adonis is driving a cab in this one, as he is in the fourth story, "Walking After Midnight", set a year or so later. The fifth and final story in this book, "A Foregone Conclusion", is one I'm very proud of, and might be my favorite of anything I've ever written. In this one, Adonis gets hired on as part of a protection detail for a political candidate's wife.

Adonis is a guy who says he's done playing the hero, who says he just wants to keep his head down and out of the way, who says he just wants to be left alone. But somehow, he just can't stop himself from doing the right thing. Someone once described him as an extraordinary man trying to live an ordinary life, and I really like that. Kinda the opposite of most of us, I guess.

He's a guy who doesn't talk much, and when pressed, favors cryptic non-answers. Which can prove difficult for me from time to time, since as I mentioned, I really like to reveal character through dialogue. I try to reveal his character through the avoidance of dialogue, I guess? It can be tricky, but I think it works.

"Walking After Midnight", the fourth story in the book, has a POV that shifts through several characters, none of whom are Adonis. He's just this figure, lurking in the edge of their lives. He gets a little dialogue with some of them, but the story's not about him. But at the same time, it's all about him.

I tried something a little different in "A Foregone Conclusion" -- it's a first person narrative, told from Adonis' point of view. I was a bit worried it would be a bit jarring coming along after the other four third person narratives, but I think it works.

DF: What was the inspiration for the character of Adonis Morgan?

FB: He sort of emerged fully formed from this stew of ideas and influences swirling around in my head for years. I've always liked the idea of people who peaked early in life, and things would never be that good again, but still have to play out the string, so to speak. I also like playing with the idea that just because you were born to do something (call it destiny, genetics, whatever you'd like) doesn't mean you want to or have to or are even any good at it. What if you don't want to be whatever it is that the universe demands you become? 

So if you are super strong and super fast and bulletproof, does that necessarily mean you're a superhero? And even if you've got all those things, what if you try it and you're no good at it? Or you hate it? And if you have enough of a moral compass that you don't become a supervillain, what then?

DF: Will we be seeing more of Adonis Morgan?

FB: I'm sure. I don't do a lot of recurring characters in my stories; the main character from one story may float through the margins of another story, but there are only a few I've returned to over the years. I never planned to go back to Adonis after "Hollywood Ending"; that one ends in a pretty dark place for him. The last line of the story is "Now what?" and I liked that. But the question demanded to be answered, I guess. 

I wrote another one a year or so later called "Barflies" (not included in Nobody Special but available online in a few places) that was originally supposed to be about a bar where metahumans hung out in their off hours. There are a few blink and you'll miss them cameos in there from other stories, and at some point, I needed a cabbie. And the first thought in my head was that that is the now what? for Adonis. One of my writerly friends, T. Mike McCurley (read Firedrake, it's great!!!) emailed me after reading and said that it was good to see Adonis again after "Hollywood Ending", and that he had been afraid Adonis had been lost forever. That really stuck with me, and I thought that maybe I was on to something. Before long, he started popping up in other story ideas.

I've got an Adonis novel I've been working on off and on for a while (he's driving a cab in a small North Carolina beach town as a massive hurricane bears down on the island); I've got a couple of other stories percolating in various stages.
You'll see him again soon, I'm sure.

DF: What’s a typical Day In The Life of Frank Byrns like?

FB: Working the pay job, coaching sports after school with the kids, homework / dinner / bed, maybe say hi to my wife before I try and steal some time to write before I fall asleep? Lather, rinse, repeat. Exciting stuff, I know....

Derrick Ferguson: Anything else we should know?

Frank Byrns: God help anyone who's read this far, so I'll just wrap it with the news that Adonis Morgan: Nobody Special is available in print and ebook format at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Smashwords, and wherever fine books are sold! Ask for it by name!

Thanks, Derrick!








Friday, August 2, 2013

Kickin' The Willy Bobo With: H.H. NEVILLE

Derrick Ferguson: Who is H.H. Neville?

H.H. Neville: I am a Seattle native that refuses to leave (except for routine trips to Yokohama), a volleyball-playing fiend and an Earl Grey enthusiast. I run a makeshift book orphanage where books just tend to show up, and I take good care of them. Sometimes I even write words, but am a bit uncomfortable with the term “writer.” I tend to prefer “fictionista.”

DF: What do you do to keep yourself in cheese and crackers?

HHN: I am a web and graphic designer. You have probably received an email with something I’ve done. Or at least your spam folder did. We’re tight like that.

DF: In the interest of full disclosure we should inform the good folks reading this that we’ve known each other for a while. Would you care to elaborate?

HHN: Heh, yes we have. This might seem a little creepier for you than me, but you’ve known me since I was fourteen. That’s when I crawled onto the internet, sheepishly posting fiction to a website that by some stroke of good fortune you stumbled across. You graciously reviewed some fiction on that website. Eventually you got around to something I wrote. You weren’t that impressed. You said it was more a history lesson than a story. You were, of course, right, and to this day (some fourteen years later) I still remember that!

DF: How long have you been writing?

HHN: It will sound rote, or trite, but forever? I remember being in early grade school and folding notebook paper into little books where I wrote stories about sword-fighting foxes that I would then illustrate. I’ve always had a pretty intense imagination, and writing seemed like the best way to relieve some of that pressure.

Seriously writing? Even though I got published once in my preteens, I never really started taking it seriously until a little bit a go. It was just something I did because I enjoyed it. I had no goals other than share things I’d written. Sharing is big for me.

DF: What writers have influenced you?

HHN: Above all else, Lewis Carroll. Without him, I’d have no imagination at all. I warn you that as a book snob, this list will get long: Verne, Frank L. Baum, ERB, Chabon, Raymond Chandler, Dostoevesky, William Gibson, Huxley, Ishiguro, Jacques, Melville, Millhauser, Murakami (Haruki and Ryu), Orwell, Christopher Priest, Salinger, Steinbeck, Wilde, Vonnegut (and all the Beat Generation), and, yeah, give me the hook already!

I’m a literary guy. I read everything from pulps, to alt. lit., YA to classic, and even though I write a lot of superheroes, I tend not to be influenced by too many comic book writers. Almost none, actually (except Japanese dudes like Shirow, Otomo, Tezuka, etc.). I try to take a very literary approach to capes and cowls.

DF: You were very active in what we called the Heroes Community of fan fiction. What would you say was your major contributions during that period?

HHN: Strife and consternation? I don’t know, really. A majority of my works have been wiped away. I think above all else, I challenged the status quo. A lot of the guys who are comic book guys didn’t get a lot of what I was trying to do. I never wanted to tell a story that left a character in a holding pattern; if I couldn’t push the characters to uncomfortable places, I didn’t want to do it.

Beyond that, I’m known for my stylistic prose; it’s dense and florid, and a lot of the times, very abstract. You can thank my love of The Beat Generation for that.

What I’m most proud of though, is as I got older, I tried to turn around and give advice to the younger generation like so many did for me. I loved to help spitball and world build, which I guess makes sense now that I’m doing that with The Generation Project.

DF: Why fan fiction at all? Why not just start out writing your own original superhero characters?

HHN: There’s a real beautiful agility with fan fiction. The people reading your work already have a pretty vast knowledge of the characters, their motivations, physical appearance, what have you. It allows you to work with that; skimp on certain aspects of storytelling that are usually necessary, and focus on the things you want to, either because you enjoy them, or because you want to get better. It’s the quickest way to write (especially when you’re learning), because you can just do it, almost reflexively, and the audience will follow. The readers will also be able to pick out weak spots in your skill sets because they know how things should be. There’s no guesswork.

You can’t do that when every bit of a character and the stories they’re in are new. You’ve got responsibilities as a writer to tell a story as completely as you can, and when readers don’t have that existing knowledge, it requires a lot more maturity and effort.

DF: Tell us about THE GENERATION PROJECT

HHN: The Generation Project is a shared-continuity superhero universe. It will span the website, and print and e-book anthologies and individual novels. All the characters on the website are free for any writer to pick up and write. I have about 200+ characters ready to insert into the continuity (with about fifty bios on the site) currently. Writers are of course allowed to introduce their own.

However, some writers struggle with world-building, which I certainly do not. Anyone who has seen one of my 100+ page character or plot bibles knows this. So, I can take care of that part for them.

Sharing is also really important to me. I like writers to share ideas, concepts, characters. I love co-writing. So this was key to doing The Generation. Sharing can be rough though, so we’ve installed some great tools to make it easier, like the bios, the world bible and a sliding scale timeline where anyone can pick up a character at any time in their life and write a story. That character might get introduced by one writer one week and the next, killed by another writer. Ownership is democratic in the purest sense.

DF: Name your three favorite characters and tell us why they are your favorites.

HHN: That’s like picking favorite kids, man! Which, by the way, if anyone tells you they can’t: they’re lying.

Paper Tiger (Page Turner) easily at the top. She’s somewhat autobiographical. She’s freakishly in love with books. Nothing else really matters to her. She’s got this Marlowe meets Thoroughly Modern Millie demeanor; she’s intelligent yet aloof, totally self-confident, despite glaring flaws her mother loves to point and just really complex. Plus, her powers are only limited by her vast imagination, and making sure she has enough paper to transmute!



The Ouroboros because he’s the kind of self-indulgent I think a lot of us would be if we were hanging out with the world’s greatest Capes. He’s the ultimate self-promoter, and showman and actually won’t help anybody unless there’s either a news reporter or a movie starlet within an earshot. He fancies himself a ladie’s man, even if he’s kind of repulsive. He’s Houdini meets Chaplin and a whole bunch of Snidely Whiplash. Plus, I just love escapists. That’s not a “superpower” per se, but it’s certainly superhuman.





Man From Mars. It’s a shameless ode to Blondie. He’s the quintessential stuck in the 80s guy. I know a lot of people like that; they just won’t let that decade go. He was a fixture at CBGBs and isn’t quite willing to move on. He’s part of the main team after The Generation destroys itself, and he’s clinging to nostalgia like a lot of folks are. He’ll be a good cipher for readers even if his nostalgia has nothing to do with The Generation. His power set is fun. Whatever he eats, he absorbs into his body. It might be a guitar, or lettuce. Who knows. Maybe something useful.



DF: Is it safe to say that superhero prose fiction has arrived and is here to stay?

HHN: Definitely. Superhero prose has always been around. I have countless of them from when I was a kid, but no slight on Greg Cox, Christopher Golden, Dean Wesley Smith and some of those guys, but it just wasn’t gonna happen for them. They weren’t going to make superhero prose a “thing.” They peaked at the wrong time. Now with a new superhero movie every two weeks, they’re part of the “pop creature” as I like to call it. Audiences crave it in all mediums, devour it. They’re not quite the new zombie (or paranormal romance), but as I spend a lot of time in bookstores, I get to see they’re right there in a comfortable third.

You’ve got the stuff by Adam Christopher, Michael Carroll, and a bunch of folks in all arenas, and even now a She-Hulk book that is one part Peter David and another Sex and the City. X-Men novels are coming back. Everybody’s doing them. When the YA shelves are saturated with a trend, it’s big. Fourteen year-olds are the ultimate tastemakers. What they want, everyone does.

It actually made me resist doing this site for a split second. Did I want to devote so much effort to a saturated market? Yeah, because it’s fun, and people are eating it up for that reason.

I think as long as we’re willing to explore what it means to put on that Cape from every angle, it’s a plenty big sandbox. That’s the goal with The Generation. I want to look at these characters from every angle, from every genre. If someone wants to do a romcom, let’s do it; if somebody wants an alt. lit. story about the collateral damage people suffer indulging these heroes, cool and of course, the old school four colour type of story doesn’t hurt either.

DF: Unlike their comic book/graphic novel cousins, superhero prose doesn’t have the benefit of artwork to help tell the story. But what can a writer do in prose that he can’t in a comic book?

HHN: I don’t think it’s a matter of what one can do over the other. I think it just takes a lot of imagination and ingenuity to do things in one over the other. Comic books are awfully kinetic. It takes a lot of work (and a lot of panels) to deliver depth, though. One well written paragraph can handle a forty-eight comic book spread a lot of the times when it comes to earnest character development. Can a novel be kinetic, though? Sure, and a lot of comic books can be deep, too.

I think the greatest advantage to prose is the investment factor: reading prose usually takes a greater investment on the reader’s behalf, so accordingly, writers will likely have to find ways to give that investment a payoff. We often think of that as a gift to the reader, but it is just as much to writer.

One of my biggest pet peeves with superhero prose writers is when they try to emulate comic books. A simple 'Dangeruss punched him, he flew across the room and hit a wall' is really just an action line in a comic script. It doesn’t make good prose. Use the medium for what it is. Color in the lines, don’t just draw ‘em.

DF: So why should people check out THE GENERATION PROJECT?

HHN: I’d say they should check it out if they like superheroes, of all different walks. We’re going to explore them every way we know how, and some we don’t just quite yet. We’re trying some exciting new things within the realm of shared-continuity universes which requires very little effort from writers, but a lot from its editors. We’re dedicated to making that work, and in turn making it a great place for readers and writers to just sit down and do what they love: create and read stories about superheroes.

Another goal of mine is to make this a safe place for all writers of all walks. I’ve got submissions being worked on by screenwriters, English professors, and aspiring writers. People who want so desperately to write a fun superhero story, even if they never have. We’re dedicated to equipping people to have fun both reading and writing. If you’re a screenwriter and hammer out a great screenplay, I’m a prose monster and we’ll work it out. If you’re a solid writer, but not a world builder, just plug in some of the characters from the site. I’m all about massaging something until the writer and reader have a product they can both be proud of.

DF: Where do you see THE GENERATION PROJECT in five years?

HHN: The definitive stop for superhero prose, and I mean that, earnestly. I want to be a force to be reckoned with, getting not just huge numbers of fans, but releases: individual novels, anthologies, continual free content on the website. I want to release YA books where the proceeds go to help Autism research. Perhaps that doesn’t mean we rival those comic book guys with their summer blockbusters, but I want to be at the forefront when people think about great superhero prose.

DF: What’s a typical Day In The Life Of H.H. Neville?

HHN: Wake up. Drink tea. Shower. Drink tea. Design some stuff. Drink tea. Make amazing food. Drink tea. Read. Drink tea. Write. Drink Tea. Sleep. Yeah, sounds about right.

Derrick Ferguson: Anything else we should know?

H.H. Neville: That Derrick Ferguson is a great, great man. Seriously, and not because of this interview. You’ve helped nudge me along to be a real-boy writer so many times, even if you never intended. So, cheers.

Oh, and that The Generation Project would love to have you all, both readers and writers, so come check us out, you hear? 


H.H. Neville
Calling H.H. Neville a real writer–like his genre of choice–would be fiction. At the rare points that he does manage to write, he fashions his work with visceral visuals, razorblade sharp style and shotgun brutality. He draws equal inspiration from Victorian Era literature, classic fables, Japanese pop-violence, steampunk, anime, grindhouse genres, hip-hop, neon-flavored pop culture, fashion-trends and really cool sneakers. He is, if anything a proponent of style over substance. Who needs plot if it’s pretty?

Derrick Ferguson Is Trapped In Mike Baron's DOMAIN

Paperback:  342 pages Publisher:  Expanding Realms; 1 edition (July 23, 2017) Language:  English ISBN-10:  1944621164 ISBN-13:  9...