Last Week In Superhero Fiction: A Conversation with Kristen Brand

LastWeekAuthor Kristen Brand loves superheroes. Almost Invincible, the third book in her popular White Knights/Black Valentine series, recently came out (the first two books include Hero Status and Villainous). In addition, her ongoing web series Fight Crime! (A Love Story) is updated each Monday, and her Twitter feed @brandedkristen features an entertaining mix of superhero-related content.

If that isn’t enough to keep her busy, Brand also champions superhero prose fiction on a regular basis on her homepage. Last Week In Superhero Fiction is a bi-weekly aggregate of news and commentary about everybody’s favorite genre. Check out our interview with the author below.

SuperheroNovels: You recently started posting a roundup of superhero prose fiction news on your site. Why?

Kristen Brand: I’ve read superhero prose fiction for years, but I was a pretty casual fan. I’d follow SuperheroNovels for book recommendations and would occasionally run across a review of a superhero novel on another book blog, but that didn’t happen often.

Then, a few months ago, I started being more active in my search for new books. I looked through Amazon and tracked down superhero fiction authors on Twitter, and I was amazed by how many new novels I found. There were all these fun authors and cool-sounding stories I’d never heard of before!

I follow a decent number of sci-fi and fantasy book review blogs, so I was surprised I hadn’t heard of so many of these recent releases. Either superhero fiction is a niche genre, or I was looking in the wrong places, but it didn’t seem like many people online were talking about these books. I know the superhero fiction genre has a lot of fans, if for no other reason than I know the number of people who have bought the superhero novels I’ve written. I figured that if I was having trouble finding news about superhero fiction, then maybe they were, too. And I already had a website, so why not post the news I found there?

SN: As you mention, you write superhero fiction too. Can you talk about how you came to the genre? And why does it interest you so much?

KB: I blame my superhero obsession on watching too much X-Men and Batman: The Animated Series when I was a kid (and I know I’m not alone there). Reading Harry Potter turned me into a bookworm, so I guess it was inevitable those two interests would meet. I’m not sure when I first realized superhero prose fiction was a thing, but some of the first books in the genre I remember reading are Black and White by Jackie Kessler and Caitlin Kittredge, which I discovered because the two authors also have popular urban fantasy series, and Karma Girl by Jennfier Estep, which is a chick lit-esque superhero romance.

Superhero prose fiction (and fiction in general) is great because you can completely immerse yourself in the characters’ thoughts, struggles, and world for hours on end. Books may not have the stunning visuals of comics or movies, but I think they make up for it in depth. For me, connecting with characters is the best part of a story, both as a reader and a writer. Dave Del Toro, the main character of my first novel, Hero Status, was inspired by how comic book superheroes rarely get to age and have stable relationships thanks to reboots and slowly changing status quos. He’s a retired superhero in his early fifties who settled down and married his former arch-nemesis, and the third book in his series, Almost Invincible, comes out on September 30th. I like to describe it as “Die Hard in a theme park with superheroes” and can’t wait for its release.

SN: We both blog about superhero fiction, and the Pen and Cape Society helps promote indie superhero fiction authors. But that’s about it. There’s very little community support for the genre. Why do you think that is?

KB: I wish I knew! My theory is that the majority of superhero fans spend most of their time talking about the comics and movies rather than the prose fiction. My hope is that most readers just don’t realize how many awesome books are in the genre, and that every time someone stumbles upon a superhero novel, it’s a chance for the genre to gain another fan.

With so many cool new releases coming out each month, I don’t think superhero fiction is disappearing anytime soon. I certainly don’t plan to stop reading or writing it!

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