I have recently received the honor of being asked to participate in The Next Big Thing world blog book tour, where writers answer a few questions regarding their next upcoming novel. As I do indeed have a novel in progress now, I was pleased to accept fellow writer and WordPress blogger Alex Chase’s offer to participate (thanks, dude!), and without further ado, here are the questions (in bold) followed by my answers.
What is the working title of your book?
CENTURION: DARK ORIGIN.
Where did the idea come from for the book?
Basically, from being an enthusiastic, lifelong fan of the super-hero sub-genre of science fiction. I’ve always wanted to write my own series of such characters due to my fascination with their archetypal relevance to the collective human consciousness (larger-than-life heroes have been a part of every world culture’s official folk legends, including the Bible), and it’s recently been shown that prose is as good a medium for super-heroes as their more traditional illustrated story format (i.e., ‘comic books’). The idea for this particular character, Centurion, goes all the way back to my high school years, and at long last a version of this character will see publication for consumption by the masses (read: the small but way cool segment of the masses who are fans of this awesome genre).
Another major idea incorporated into this novel and the sub-genre it entails is that of infusing a large degree of autobiographical elements into the mix, which acts as an interesting way of presenting your life story in a highly fictionalized context that conveys all that your life experiences have taught you in a (hopefully) entertaining manner. This idea goes all the way back to Jerry Siegal and Joe Shuster’s creation of the seminal super-hero archetype for the modern era, Superman, but in a less overt manner.
What genre does your book fall under?
As noted above, CENTURION will fall clearly within the super-hero genre, which many categorize as a distinguished sub-genre of the general science fiction rubric.
Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition?
I think Andrew Garfield of last year’s big screen version of The Amazing Spider-Man would make a really good onscreen portrayal of Benny Lotharo, Centurion’s civilian alter-ego. His only close friend, Gary, would be well-portrayed by Josh Peck, at least if he was a bit younger and put on some weight. As for Benny’s life-saving mentor, the tough but justice-minded soldier-turned-special agent Donovan Jakes, I would elect Mark Ruffalo for the role, as he did a fantastic job as Dr. Bruce Banner in last year’s other great super-hero big screen opus, Marvel’s The Avengers.
What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?
In a world where metahuman beings are suddenly appearing in large numbers, one particular troubled adolescent is the recipient of the gift of posthuman power and finds he has to struggle past his inner demons and emotional shortcomings to become a hero rather than a destructive menace to society.
Okay, that was sort of a long sentence, but thanks to the grammatical tool known as the comma, I still managed to get it down in a single sentence 🙂
Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency?
This novel will be published by Metahuman Press, whom I am honored to work with.
How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?
The first draft is still in the works but progressing nicely, and if it’s okay to take an educated guestimate, I see its completion over the next several months, with hopefully a late 2013 or early 2014 release date if all goes as planned.
What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?
Most likely gritty super-hero books that explore the flawed human side of heroes, such as pioneers in that field like Alan Moore’s The Watchmen and Frank Miller’s Batman: The Dark Knight Returns, with a more recent example being Mark Millar’s volumes of The Ultimates. I hesitate at this point to even imply that CENTURION should belong in such company, but their interpretation of the super-hero is the inspiration to where I will be taking the main character of this book.
Who or what inspired you to write this book?
My own life experiences combined with my lifelong love and respect for an iconoclastic method of story-telling that breaks various boundaries and features an abundant use of socio-cultural archetypes that have a strong resonance on the collective psyche.
What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?
Benny Lotharo will be a deviation from the traditional adolescent super-hero paradigm that we have seen with the likes of Peter Parker, Dick Grayson, and the young Clark Kent portrayed in the Golden Age to Bronze Age Superboy mythos and as interpreted in the long-running Smallville TV series. Benny will not start out as an obviously good person who will quickly rise to the challenge of being a hero after receiving his powers. Like Peter Parker, he will be a greatly disliked social outcast amongst his peers, but unlike the type of character that Peter represented, Benny will carry deep emotional scars that will cause him to initially go down a dark path.
But both he and the readers will gradually learn that he is a good person deep down who needs to work very hard to overcome his bitterness and anger at the world for its rejection of him to eventually become a hero. It’s true that Peter Parker initially eschewed the hero route to go into a self-serving show business career (a well-known point of the mythos that was curiously left out of last year’s big screen interpretation of the Spider-Man story, though it was fully incorporated into the Tobey Maguire version of a decade ago), but he never fully gave into his anger to seek vengeance on his peer tormentors; Peter simply became aloof and narcissistic, not out for blood. Benny will regrettably choose to go there in the beginning, and as a result, he will have a lot more redemption to work out before he can be called a hero.
I agree with some fan critics of modern comics that we do need traditional super-heroes of the naturally heroic kind that inspire us to become all that we can be–note Steve Rogers, a.k.a., Captain America, who is my all-time fav super-hero; and the traditional version of Billy Batson, a.k.a, DC’s Captain Marvel, another fav of mine–but I think characters with serious emotional flaws who are easier for us average joes and janes to relate to can also inspire us, by making it clear that no matter how much work it may take, those who are determined to overcome their negative traits and emotional baggage to become a much better person–even a hero–can indeed get there, with some help from those in their lives who care. I think both types of characters in the genre can be equally inspirational if handled the right way, which is why I like seriously flawed characters who have to struggle to become heroes in addition to those who are extremely noble and pure of heart from the onset.
Once again, I thank my colleague Alex Chase for asking me to participate in The Next Big Thing, and I thank all of my fellow writers in the genres I work within for the immense inspiration they have provided for me through the years!