Trish Heinrich’s debut novel (Serpent’s Sacrifice / First Printing: September 2017 / ISBN: 9780999066911) is about a young woman who reinvents herself as a superheroine to avenge the death of her aunt. The book has garnered a bevy of enthusiastic reviews on Amazon (plus here and here). We asked Heinrich for a little insight into her newly released novel and her ongoing series. Her response below.
“I get asked a lot what the inspiration for Serpent’s Sacrifice was because I’m not a big comic book reader, but I’m very much a superhero geek. So, the inspiration came from a song by the geek rock band Kirby Krackle called “Needing a Miracle.” It’s this great song about a superhero that’s in love with a regular person and about how some day, when he’s done being a hero, they can be together, but if she ever needs him all she has to do is look up and he’ll be there. Very romantic and simple. So, originally, Alice was going to be a Lois Lane type of character. Then, while I was making dinner one night, I asked one of the most important questions a writer can ask: ‘What if?’
“What if Alice was a hero too, but without powers? And the rest of the story flowed from there. Though, I will admit, the story looks very different now than it did in the first draft, which was a complete mess!
“One major difference between the original concept and the book now is that in the original outline Marco (aka Shadow Master and one of Alice’s best friends) became the villain. As I wrote it, however, I realized that it didn’t work; maybe because I’d fallen a little in love with Marco.
“The villain was actually one of the hardest characters to nail down. I was having trouble getting a handle on my villain when, one night, I was watching Agent Carter and it hit me who the villain was. I don’t want to ruin it by revealing too much, so I’ll just say that once I knew the sense of injustice the character felt, the rest of the villain really came together.
“When I started writing this book, I couldn’t write a fight scene to save my life. So, the original draft had summaries of fight scenes instead of the actual scenes. While re-writing the original draft, I researched fighting styles that would be appropriate for a shorter woman like Alice, and decided on Brazilian jiu-jitsu. This lead me to Ronda Rousey and women’s mixed martial arts. I have to admit that my research soon turned into a guilty pleasure as I watched hours of footage of MMA fights to better understand BJJ and other styles of fighting. I also bought a book that is meant for BJJ fighters and breaks down each move into simple parts. I studied fight scenes in movies and TV shows and I read some books on the mechanics of writing these scenes. The fight scenes in the book have gotten some praise for being easy to follow but also descriptive enough that you feel the bones and blood. I take that as a huge compliment because I learned how to write those scenes from the ground up.
“What started as a standalone story has now developed into a series, with planned spinoffs. The sequel, Serpent’s Rise, will be available in November in Kindle format, with a novella to follow in January. I’m very excited to delve into this world of superheroes and tell these stories. I hope you’ll join me!” (Find out more about the author at her website (here) and follow her on Twitter @trishheinrich.)
New Praetorians makes the leap from comic books to prose with Sienna McKnight: New Praetorians 1 (By R.K. Syrus / First Printing: July 2017 / ISBN: 9781910890066). Syrus says his novel promotes a deeper, more nuanced caricature of his titular superheroine. “I’m shooting for the conflicted nature of Frank Miller’s Batman combined with the leadership qualities of Steve Rogers,” he told us in a recent email. Check out the Kirkus review (here) for more details about the novel, the first of an ambitious 10-volume series.
Author Vita Ayala talks about “comics of resistance” in a recent interview (here). She also comments on her experience participating in DC Comics’ talent development workshop. On a personal note: We’ve worked with a couple of “graduates” of this program, and we applaud DC’s commitment to up-and-coming creators like Ayala.
If you’re interested in the process of writing superhero fiction (prose or comics), you might want to check out How Comics Work by Dave Gibbons (First Printing: October 2017 / ISBN: 9781577151579). The veteran creator discusses scriptwriting, page layouts, lettering, and more. Also worth reading: Understanding Comics, Comics and Sequential Art, and How to Draw Comics the Marvel Way.
Slugfest (By Reed Tucker / First Printing: October 2017 / ISBN: 9780306825460) is the story of the greatest corporate rivalry in history: Marvel vs. DC. Stealing ideas, poaching employees, hiring spies, launching price wars, the feud continues to this very day. “A knockout read for capes-and-cowls aficionados,” says the Kirkus review (here).
Every day we get email queries from authors, agents, and publishers asking about our review guidelines. The short answer is this: we don’t have any submission guidelines. But we admit we follow a vague internal checklist that helps us determine what books to read. In this way, we agree with Parul Sehgal, book reviewer with The New York Times: “I make a decision about what to review based on a number of factors,” she says in a recent interview “Is the book newsworthy? Is it a book that I think our readers should know about? Is it a novel that’s doing something new? Is the author important? Then, of course, there are my own tastes – what’s exciting and enticing to me.” Read the entire interview with Sehgal here: How a Critic Opens a Book.
Say goodbye to comic book shops. According to Martin Griepp, CEO of ICv2, the entire marketplace for comics is being disrupted and transformed by an influx of new fans (mainly young female readers). “Consumers are looking for new kinds of comics content as well as new retail options,” he says.
Interviews: Ta-Nehisi Coates and Jason Reynolds talk about Black Panther and Miles Morales (here). C.B. Lee, author of Not Your Villain (here). Kristen Brand, author of Almost Invincible (here). Terri Favro, author of Sputnik’s Children (here). Leigh Bardugo, author of Wonder Woman: Warbringer (here). David Neth, author of Fuse (here).
Reviews: Ghosts of Empire by George Mann (here and here). Transference by Kate Jonuska (here). Wonder Woman: Warbringer by Leigh Bardugo (here). Dreadnought (here) and Sovereign (here) by April Daniels. “Behind the Mask” by Elizabeth Coldwell (here). Kirby: King of Comics by Mark Evanier (here).
For your reading pleasure: Superhero Syndrome by Caryn Larrinaga. Four Color Bleed by Ryan McSwain. A Foe Returns by Samuel A. Mayo The Supervillain and Me by Danielle Banas. Alpha Squad: Vecto Vengeance/Voyage by Reid Kemper. The Supers of Sanction City by J.E. Church. “Stand Up” by Blaze Ward. Arcana Assembled: A Verse Novel by A.E. Palmer. Pacific Rim Uprising by Alex Irvine. Pacific Rim Uprising: Ascension by Greg Keyes. Mass Effect: Initiation by N.K. Jemisin and Mac Walters. The DC Universe by Neil Gaiman. Parallel Visions: City of Angels, City of Demons by Fritz Freiheit.