Legends of the Zodiac

BalancePowerWhat’s the mightiest of all astrological signs? Is it Scorpio? Taurus? Leo? It’s hard to qualify such a thing. When you think about it, perhaps the most powerful sign is Pisces. After all, water covers over three-fourths of the Earth’s surface. That’s a big wet empire for fish to govern.

In the Chinese zodiac there is no debate. The Dragon is easily the most vital and powerful of all twelve signs. “The Dragon’s power is inconceivable and impossible to describe,” says Jasmine, one of the Zodiac Legacy superkids. “It’s like all the fire in the world, burning behind your eyelids. Like a star.”

Jasmine knows what she’s talking about. She once possessed the power of the Dragon until it was snatched away from her. (For more details, read our reviews of the first two novels in the series, Convergence and The Dragon’s Return.) The Horse is fierce, the Ram is unstoppable, and the Rooster can let loose with a piercing scream that would put Black Canary out of business. But all of them are just flickering matches when compared to the mythical fire-breathing creature. “The Dragon is the whole blazing sun,” says Steven Lee, the hero of the book.

Somehow the Zodiac Kids have to find a way to snuff out the Dragon before it triggers an irreversible chain of earthquakes across the globe. “If all the volcanoes in the Ring of Fire exploded at once it would lead to massive ecological disaster,” explains Duane, the group’s tech-savvy Pig. “Billions would die or fall sick from the toxic gases released into the atmosphere.” That’s bad.

But why did the Dragon want to wipe out all known life on Earth? That’s a good question – one the author(s) never truly answer in a sufficient way. But whatever. Don’t think about it too much, says Duane. “The Dragon doesn’t think like the rest of us.”

The novel opens with a tricky rescue mission deep inside a volcano. Afterward, the Agents of Z.O.D.I.A.C. travel to the Sahara desert and later they board a rickety submersible vessel off the coast of Japan. And, of course, they confront the MechaDragon in an explosive 100-page endgame. Throughout, the action sequences are constructed like a video game written by Miyuki Miyabe. If you grew up playing video games and reading Japanese genre fiction (like we did), you’d certainly agree.

The Balance of Power may (or may not) be the final volume in the Zodiac Legacy series, but it satisfactorily concludes the gang’s first star-crossed mission. Steven and his pals were a disparate bunch of kids with mad celestial superpowers. And over the course of three novels, they came together as a team to save the world. Everything worked out in the end. “Piece of cake!” they all agreed.

[The Zodiac Legacy: The Balance of Power / By Stan Lee, Stuart Moore, and Andie Tong / First Printing: March 2017 / 9781484713518]

Posted in Published in 2017 | Tagged , , , ,

Live! In the Link Age 06.13.17

RefrigeratorThe Refrigerator Monologues (By Catherynne M. Valente and Annie Wu / First Printing: June 2017 / ISBN: 9781481459341) is being touted as a Vagina Monologues for comic book heroines. The title refers to a plot device known as “Women in Refrigerators,” in which female characters are killed or injured to advance the ongoing story of the male superhero. The trope has been around forever, but it was given a name back in the ’90s by writer Gail Simone. Read an interview with Valente (here) and read an excerpt from her book (here). To find out more about the WiR trope, pick up a copy of Green Lantern #54.

Coming this fall: two new middle-grade novels based on the Flash and Supergirl TV shows. Supergirl: Age of Atlantis by Jo Whittemore (available 11.07.17) is about a humanoid sea creature and a surge in “super-citizens” in National City. The Flash: Hocus Pocus by Barry Lyga (available 10.03.17) takes place in an alternative timeline where Flashpoint never happened. “We’re big fans of the TV shows,” says a publishing rep. “We’re thrilled to be working with Warner Bros., the shows’ production teams, and the authors to introduce two epic new series featuring original adventures not seen on television.”

Shattergirl, an alien superhero with amazing strength, has always been aloof. But now she’s gone off the grid completely (Shattered / By Lee Winter / First Printing: June 2017 / ISBN: 783955335632). It’s up to bounty hunter Lena Martin to track down the rogue hero and bring her back home. “As the pair clash, masks begin to crack and brutal secrets are exposed,” says the publisher.

“By and large, the number of novels about the lives of superheroes isn’t a massive one,” writes Tobias Carroll in his double review of A Little More Human by Fiona Maazel and Dear Cyborgs by Eugene Lim. “It’s hard to say why: perhaps the archetypes of the genre are so well-established that they’re nearly impossible to avoid; perhaps it’s just harder to translate these kinds of stories into prose, as opposed to film.” Wrapping up his review, Carroll writes: “These are stories that could only be told via fiction, but they’re also stories that wouldn’t exist without a long history of comic book storytelling.”

Last Son of Krypton (1978) and Miracle Monday (1981) are two revered Superman novels written by Elliot S. Maggin. Miracle Monday, in particular, is well remembered by fans. Now the author has published a newly edited edition. And that means you don’t have to scour dusty used bookstores to find a copy. For more information, comic book tummler Greg Hatcher has a nice perspective on both novels (here).

Even though we saw it on opening day, we still haven’t publically commented on Wonder Woman’s big screen debut. But don’t worry; we’re planning to review the movie’s novelization in a couple of weeks. We’ll save all of our grand pronouncements until then. In the meantime, go ahead and check out author Carrie Vaughn’s initial thoughts on the movie (here).

Without a doubt, AdHouse Books is one of our favorite comic book publishers. Normally the company doesn’t venture anywhere near genre material. But a recent publication looks like a retro-pulp doozy. Tarantula (By Alexis Ziritt, Fabian Rangel, Jr., and Evelyn Rangel / First Printing: July 2017 / ISBN: 9781935233381) is Satanic noir about three people trying to bring justice to a world on the brink of chaos. It is, according to the publisher, “the pulp of yesterday retold through the lens of modern psychedelic storytelling.”

Reed Crandall: Illustrator of the Comics (By Roger Hill / First Printing: August 2017 / ISBN: 9781605490779) is an extensive history of one of the comic industry’s finest artists. We loved Crandall’s stuff with EC Comics and in early issues of Creepy and Eerie. But his work with superheroes (specifically Doll Man and Blackhawk) was awesome too. His cover of National Comics #26 is memorably iconic.

Interviews: Eugene Lim, author of Dear Cyborgs (here). Gwenda Bond, author of Lois Lane: Triple Threat (here). Tom King, author of A Once Crowded Sky (here). Trina Robbins, editor of A Bunch of Jews (and Other Stuff) (here).

Reviews: Dear Cyborgs by Eugene Lim (here and here). The Refrigerator Monologues by Catherynne M. Valente and Annie Wu (here and here). Behind the Mask edited by Tricia Reeks and Kyle Richardson (here). Rabbit Heart by Barry Reese (here). Dreadnought by April Daniels (here). The Supergirl Storybook by Wendy Andrews (here). Do I Make Myself Clear? by Harold Evans (here).

For your reading pleasure: Captain America: The Never-Ending Battle by Robert Greenberger. Arsenal by Jeffery H. Haskell. Midnight by Stefani Chaney. War for the Planet of the Apes: Revelations by Greg Keyes. Superheroines and the Epic Journey: Mythic Themes in Comics, Film and Television by Valerie Estelle Frankel. Hero-A-Go-Go by Michael Eury. Groovy: When Flower Power Bloomed in Pop Culture by Mark Voger. Why Comics?: From Underground to Everywhere by Hillary L. Chute. Gothic Tales of Haunted Love edited by Hope Nicholson and Sam Beiko. Bonfire by Krysten Ritter (aka Jessica Jones).

Posted in Live! In the Link Age

Mighty BioMorphin’ Super Soldiers

LockdownThe super soldier concept was one of the most popular tropes in superhero fiction. With a simple injection, anybody could attain peak physical performance and operate beyond normal human abilities. Just look at Captain America, Deathstroke, and Mockingbird.

Of course, you didn’t have to drink super soldier juice to become a super patriot. Maria Hill, Alex Danvers, Lyla Michaels, and Steve Trevor were all elite commandos too. They couldn’t jump out of an airplane without a parachute or outrun cars on the highway, but they all performed admirably on and off the battlefield.

Another super soldier who’s done pretty well for himself was Mack Bolan. Since 1969 (and in over 600 novels) he’s been waging his own personal War Everlasting. And unlike Steve Rogers and his progeny, Bolan’s been doing it without enhancements of any kind. “In the perilous world of black ops,” wrote the author, “Bolan was the best there was, bar none.” They didn’t call him the Executioner for nothing.

Tucked away in a remote facility somewhere deep in the Blue Ridge Mountains, a cutting edge biopharmaceutical company called Harkin Industries was working on a super-soldier serum of it’s own. Sanctioned by the U.S. Department of Defense, its goal was to produce the soldier of the future – to enhance natural ability to a level never before conceived. “Imagine, if you will,” said Lex Luthor Harkin, the company’s CEO, “soldiers five times as strong as they normally were. Soldiers who never tired, and who were impervious to pain. Super soldiers who would be next to invincible.”

But super-soldier serums were notoriously volatile. After all these years, no one in the Marvel Universe had been able to replicate it, and Harkin was having trouble too. His scientists wanted to produce a squadron of Captain Americas, but instead their bioenhancer created a virus that turned humans into mindless adrenaline-fueled Man-Things.

An outbreak of the virus puts the Harkin lab in lockdown, and it’s up to Bolan and his Stony Man agents to arrest the situation. As you’d expect, the novel contains lots of super solder vs. super soldier fireworks. But it also contains a lot of commentary about human nature at its worse. Call us a misanthrope, but that’s the part we liked best. It’s kind of like a superhero version of the Billy Wilder film, Ace in the Hole.

In the end, the virus was contained and the Harkin Industries lab was smashed. Bolan and his crew saved the day. The super soldier program was dead. Long live the super soldiers.

[Lockdown / By David Robbins based on characters created by Don Pendleton / First Printing: December 2004 / ISBN: 9780373643134]

Posted in New/Old Pulp | Tagged , , ,

The Stranger Within

ALittleMoreHumanA Little More Human was a novel about a guy named Phil Snyder, Jr., who could read minds. During the week he worked as a lowly nursing assistant at a top-secret medical research facility. But on weekends, he slipped into his superhero costume and became Brainstorm.

Basically the story was about a man who discovered his true identity by hiding behind a mask. Which was kind of a twist. The only time Phil felt good was when he was in his snazzy Brainstorm suit.

It was a twist. But it wasn’t a total surprise. Everybody leads a double life, says our new favorite author Fiona Maazel: “We’re all chronic liars – to the world and more often to ourselves.” Never make the mistake of thinking you know someone, she says. Secrecy is the bedrock of humanity – just ask Bruce Wayne.

Phil could read minds, but he wasn’t nearly as powerful as the Martian Manhunter or Professor X. He couldn’t, for example, drill into someone’s brain halfway across the country. Friedrich Nietzsche would call him an overman, but Phil had done little to cultivate himself beyond what was thought to be his natural-born province of intellect and spirit. More often than not, he thought his mindreading skills were skeevy.

But with a little biotech nudge, Phil’s powers would eventually evolve. And his new “super” powers came in handy when he got tangled up in a conspiracy web involving his wife’s pregnancy, his mother’s death, his father’s dementia, and his best friend’s duplicity. In addition, photos were being circulated showing Phil’s involvement in a violent sexual assault incident. With or without the Brainstorm suit, our hero had to figure out a way to become a little more human.

The good news was that Phil finally figured it out. The bad news, however, was that he did so in the messiest way possible. He used his newly acquired “mind scraping” abilities to change lives and rewrite history to his advantage. Once again the hero prevailed. Shout hooray. But this time nobody cared except him.

[A Little More Human / By Fiona Maazel / First Printing: April 2017 / ISBN: 9781555977696]

Posted in Published in 2017 | Tagged ,

Live Long and Prosper

Sputniks ChildrenTwenty-five years had passed since the debut of Sputnik Chick #1. And never once during that time did creator Debbie Reynolds Biondi ever consider giving “The Girl With No Past” an origin story.

But it was finally time to put brush to Bristol board. Debbie’s publisher and her “spunkie” fans demanded it. “Sputnik Chick just shows up out of nowhere in New York City in 1979,” complained one long-time fan. “Where did she come from? Even if her past was obliterated, she still has one, right?”

Sputnik Chick did in fact have a past. And not surprisingly, the events leading up to Sputnik Chick #1 were similar to Debbie’s own personal origin story. “Not that anyone would believe it,” she said.

You see, Debbie was originally from an alternate dimension created when Robert Oppenheimer split the atom back in 1945. But this newly created splintered reality was doomed from the very beginning. To save humanity, Debbie had to collapse time and migrate the entire population of Earth into a single timeline.

The only way Debbie felt comfortable telling her story was via her superhero avatar. For her, comic books were a place to work out painful family stories. A way to deal with a horrific legacy in a way that she could manage. “It was a way for me to turn fantasy into truth,” she said.

Sputnik’s Children is a fractured biography of Debbie and Sputnik Chick (and probably author Terri Favro too) told through a Silver Surfer filter. It’s a dizzying ride through the time-space continuum held together by comic books and quantum mechanics.

But you don’t have to be a whiz at physics to enjoy Favro’s book. You don’t even have to know about superposition and Erwin Schrödinger. Believe us, you’ll be turning pages faster than Space Shuttle Challenger in freefall. And if you read novels with a pen in your hand (like us), you’ll be underlining funny and clever passages throughout the book.

Debbie’s love of superheroes helped her escape Atomic Mean Time and rescue Earth Standard Time. “Comic book time wasn’t so much fluid as rubbery, bouncing back and forth, up and down, like a superball. Do-overs were common: you could literally start a superhero’s life again in a different time, place, or dimension.” Ultimately, that’s what Debbie was doing. She was reinventing herself over and over again until she got it right.

Sputnik Chick’s origin story turned out to be a revenge tragedy filled with jealousy, betrayal, and conflicted emotions. “Just like real life,” said Debbie at the end of the novel. And just like the Silver Surfer’s journey to Earth, it was a sad tale filled with heartbreak, sacrifice, loneliness, and lost opportunities.

[Sputnik’s Children / By Terri Favro / First Printing: April 2017 / ISBN: 9781770413412]

Posted in Published in 2017 | Tagged ,

Face/Off

MaskIt hasn’t happened yet. But at some point, an author is going to sit down and bang out a big, whopping superhero novel. Something hefty like The Brothers Karamazov or Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix.

And why not? Superhero prose fiction is no different than any other genre. It’s sturdy enough to support epic storytelling on a Robert Jordan-like scale. Heck, we wouldn’t be surprised if someone was furiously working on a 1,000-page manuscript at this very moment. J’onn J’onzz: The Early Years, Vol. 1, perhaps?

Nobody’s written a superhero novel the size of Gone with the Wind, but authors have certainly embraced the short story format with gusto. Over the years, most of the superhero anthologies we’ve read have been pretty good. And occasionally they’ve been excellent like this one from editors Tricia Reeks and Kyle Richardson.

Says Richardson in the book’s introduction: “Behind the Mask is, partially, a prose nod to the comic world – the bombast, the larger-than-life, the save-the-worlds and the calls-to-adventure. But it’s also a spotlight on the more intimate side of the genre. The hopes and dreams of our cape-clad heroes. The regrets and longings of our cowled villains. That poignant, solitary view of the world that can only be experienced from behind the mask.”

He and Reeks have done a great job picking 20 stories that play to familiar strengths of the genre like transformation, self-identity, secret identities and the responsibilities that come with extraordinary power.

The volume’s first story, for example (“Ms. Liberty Gets a Haircut” by Cat Rambo), is about gender and self-identity issues shared by an all-female crimefighting team known as the Unidentified. “Pedestal” by Seanan McGuire underscores the importance of keeping a secret identity in the age of Twitter and Snapchat. And three of the stories examine the curse and privilege of family legacies (“Inheritance” by Michael Milne, “Madjack” by Nathan Crowder, and “The Fall of the Jade Sword” by Stephanie Lai). All of these stories are super terrific btw.

Easily the best contribution to the anthology comes from Kelly Link. “Origin Story” is a nihilistic tale about two childhood sweethearts stuck in their dreary hometown. Despite having superpowers, Bunnatine and Biscuit can’t figure out a way to overcome the crushing reality that surrounds them.

Link is a wonderful writer, and her story has been reprinted numerous times over the years. Any compilation, superhero or otherwise, would get a big boost from having it listed in the table of contents. But maybe, we think, it’s time to move forward. Let’s put “Origin Story” to rest and herald a new era of superhero prose fiction. Maybe now is the time for someone to write that sweeping three-volume J’onn J’onzz bio. It’s just a thought.

[Behind the Mask: An Anthology of Heroic Proportions / Edited by Tricia Reeks and Kyle Richardson / First Printing: May 2017 / ISBN: 9780996626262]

Posted in Published in 2017, Short Story Collections | Tagged , ,

Arrow: A Generation of Vipers: A Conversation with Clay Griffith and Susan Griffith

Clay Susan GriffithFrom the moment Captain America punched Adolf Hitler in the kisser, comic book readers have enjoyed crossovers. Who doesn’t like to see the Justice League mix it up with the Avengers, or Darkseid go toe-to-toe with Galactus? Jean-Luc Picard meeting Professor X was pretty cool too.

When the Green Arrow and the Flash made the transition to TV a few years ago, fans didn’t have to wait long before the two shows took a tip from the comics and started to intermingle storylines. The ensuing crossover episodes hooked viewers and created an inclusive and compelling FlarrowVerse.

Now the same thing has been done in prose format. Authors Clay Griffith and Susan Griffith have written a pair of novels that engage the casts of The Flash and Arrow in a big, complicated storyline. Read our reviews of The Flash: The Haunting of Barry Allen (here) and Arrow: A Generation of Vipers (here).

What follows is our conversation with the authors about tie-in novels, serial fiction, superhero prose fiction, and their particular and unique writing process.

SuperheroNovels: We’re sure you made a lot of fans happy with your recent two-novel Flash/Arrow crossover series. But what was your main priority when you started the project? What did you ultimately hope to accomplish?

Clay Griffith and Susan Griffith: Our first goal, obviously, was to write a book that was fun and exciting to read, and highlights the character, keeping them as true as possible. You always keep an eye toward writing a tie-in novel so that it can be accessible to a general reader even if they’ve never watched The Flash or Arrow.

But the main goal with tie-in work is to write a solid book that will expand the experience of the fans. Give them the elements from the show that they love, and then give them more. Any TV show is somewhat limited by time and budget. Sometimes it just hints at a nice character moment, but then it has to keep moving, leaving the viewer wanting to spend more time with Barry West and Oliver Queen or Joe and Iris West.

We don’t have that constraint in a book. We can do more character introspection; let the reader feel what Barry feels. We can play with character team-ups and combinations. We did a fun scene between Caitlin Snow and Iris and a father moment between Joe and John Diggle. Plus the action and fights can be as big as we want. There’s no producer telling us that we don’t have the FX budget for more than one giant multi-character battle scene.

So ultimately the goal was to write the book as if it was the coolest, biggest, most emotional episode of the show ever.

SN: In both of your books, characters jump off the page in delightful ways – Felicity Smoak in particular. In our opinion, she’s more funny and likeable in your Arrow novel than she is currently in the TV show. How satisfied are you with your interpretations of these familiar characters?

CG/SG: We’re fans of the shows, both The Flash and Arrow. We love these characters. So our intention was to make the characters as close to what the shows present as we could.

Of course, with serialized shows, characters are always in flux. Felicity Smoak is a prime example. Her arc is dramatic, going from an introverted computer geek to superhero Overwatch, and all the ups and downs in between. Felicity is different in season five than she was in two or three.

Since we were writing the books while the seasons were advancing, and the characters changing, we had to do our best to capture her essence without necessarily pinning her to a specific moment in her developmental arc. We chose to focus on what we loved best about the character, her resourcefulness and wit. That approach went for all the characters. We really tried to make them as close to the show as possible and then give them each an opportunity to shine.

We’ve been really happy with the feedback we’ve gotten from Flash and Arrow fans; they value what we’ve done with the characters that are beloved to all of us. This makes us believe we got pretty close to the mark we were shooting for.

SN: We live in a hyper-connected world these days where movies, TV, comic books, and video games all share the same content. Do you think we’re in a golden age of tie-in novels?

CG/SG: We may not be living in a golden age of tie-in novels, but we’re certainly living in a golden age of multi-media or trans-media. As you say, we can consume so many of our favorite properties in one or in many medias, all with slightly different spins on the material. It can be totally immersive. And typically they’re all pretty well done. Producers finally realize that if you give genre material the respect it deserves, fans will flock to it.

In terms of tie-in novels, we’ve consumed tie-ins and novelizations for a long time. We go back to the 1960s and James Blish’s novelizations of the original Star Trek series published by Bantam Books. And Whitman Books used to do great novels aimed at younger readers based on shows like Combat or Man From U.N.C.L.E. The greatest novelization/tie-in of all time was Star Wars. We both read the paperback novel before the movie even came out. And the 1980s and 1990s were the era of fantastic and influential Star Wars, Star Trek, and D&D book series, to name just a few properties.

SN: Superheroes are all over the place now. Characters like Deadpool and Luke Cage have been wildly successful on the big screen and the small screen. Despite strong efforts from authors like Eoin Colfer, Carrie Vaughn, and Brandon Sanderson, readers have been somewhat lukewarm to superhero prose fiction. Do you think superhero novels will ever catch fire in the same way as other media?

CG/SG: That’s a really good question, and we’ve talked about it before because we’d love to write original superhero prose fiction. Obviously there’s a built-in market for prose fiction using established characters like Superman or Batman or Spider-Man (or Flash and Green Arrow!). But in terms of superhero prose not associated with established comic book/TV characters, then it certainly hasn’t been a giant success. There are excellent examples, and you list a few. You could also mention George R.R. Martin’s Wild Cards series that has existed for decades. So there certainly is some superhero prose out there.

We’ve had editors tell us that they’re not looking for superhero fiction because it doesn’t sell. Of course we heard the same thing about steampunk, and it still does okay.

We would argue that there is actually more superhero prose out there than you think. A lot of fantasy and urban fantasy novels have strong superhero influence. The characters just don’t follow the expected comic tropes of costumes and capes and crimefighting.

Our own historical urban fantasy series Crown & Key has a superhero vibe to it. We used to pitch it as “Charlotte Bronte’s Avengers.” The characters are magical, but they still have superhuman abilities and fight evil as part of a team.

However most “superhero” prose these days is an extension of action-fantasy or military sci-fi. The characters use magical or genetic “powers” in paramilitary groups to fight other “super-powered” terrorists or enemy combatants. The reason original comic book superheroes in the 1930s immediately fought crime was because crime was an overwhelming social concern. Now it’s terrorism and political instability. So that’s what the new breed of prose superheroes fight. And they’re more likely to wear combat fatigues than spandex.

But in terms of superheroes as we think of them in comic books, that has struggled to find a strong home in prose, considering how popular they are in movies and TV. We actually think that if a breakthrough is going to come, it will happen in two places. The first is the romance genre, blending romance and fantasy/action with superhero elements. The second is in the world of self-publishing. It’s actually already happening there. Fans who want superhero prose, and we believe there are a lot of them out there, are looking to a growing library of self-published material to fill that need.

SN: Let’s talk about your process a little bit. Not only are you writing partners, but you’re married too. We have to ask, how does the work get done? And how do you resolve writerly conflicts when they pop up?

CG/SG: We’ve been writing together now for nearly 20 years so a lot of our collaboration style is second nature to us. For a large project like a novel, we start with the plot. We have to plot in detail because there are two of us writing and we have to know what the other is working on at all times. You can’t have one author killing a character in chapter six while the other author is using that same character in chapter 10. So we work out the plot together via lots and lots and lots of conversation and notes passed back and forth. Eventually we have character bios and a chapter-by-chapter outline. Obviously elements can change with the writing, but at least we know where we intended to be, and that gives us a touchstone for changes.

Once we have the plot, we divide up the material and start writing. We try not to get too far ahead of each other. We don’t want one author to come up with a brilliant idea to change the story in chapter five and the other author is already finishing chapter 22. That would require a lot of rewriting.

So communication is key. We are always talking and discussing ideas for any slight change to the plot in order to understand how that change will cascade throughout the entire book, for good or bad.

As chapters are written, we pass them back and forth for editing and rewriting many times. The goal is to create an authorial voice that is unique. Some collaborators highlight the differences in the collaborators’ voices, but that’s not our style. We don’t want readers to know who wrote what. We want a single consistent voice that represents “Clay and Susan Griffith.”

Conflicts do come up while writing. Depending on the project, they can come up a lot, or a little. Actually, our Flash and Arrow novels probably had fewer conflicts than any other set of books we’ve ever written. That had to do with the fact that we weren’t creating and defining new characters, we were just interpreting existing characters for our own purposes. But when conflicts arise, the only way to solve them is to talk. And talk more. And talk even more. Sometimes we even talk with raised voices because we’re both very passionate about what we do. The moment one of us says, “I don’t care. Do what you want,” that’s the end of creative collaboration.

Theoretically, with every project, one of us is the lead. Usually it’s whoever made the contact that got the job or whoever came up with the original concept for the story. If there ever comes a disagreement we simply can’t settle, we could invoke the “nuclear option” and the lead will lay down the law. End of argument. That has never occurred and hopefully will never occur. Once you invoke the nuclear option, there’s no going back. It’s no longer a true collaboration; it’s a boss and employee. And we don’t want to work that way.

SN: What’s next for you, superhero, vampire, steampunk, together, or separately? If the opportunity presented itself, would you be interested in penning more Flash and Arrow novels? How about books based on other CW shows like Supergirl, DC’s Legends of Tomorrow, iZombie, or Black Lightning?

CG/SG: We are thinking about several projects for the near future, but we don’t have contracts for anything specific yet. Likely it will be in the historical fantasy realm, which is the genre we worked in with Vampire Empire and Crown & Key. We would like to write some more traditional epic fantasy or sword & sorcery too at some point; we’re big fans of those genres.

Naturally, we would love to write more Flash or Arrow (or other DC properties) in the future. We had a blast on the two we just did. Tie-in work is fun on the right property. It’s great to have the chance to contribute in a small way to the mythology of these characters that you’ve enjoyed on TV and in the comics before that. But also, there are so many hours in the day and we don’t want to neglect our own ideas and characters.

Posted in Interviews, Marvel/DC, Movies/TV, Published in 2017 | Tagged , , , , ,