The White Ribbon Runs the Red Lights (First Printing: November 2017 / ISBN: 9781978398689) is the latest novel by Blake Michael Nelson, and the fifth installment in his ongoing superhero series set in Signal City (earlier volumes include The Adventures of Jack and Miracle Girl, Vol. 1 and Vol. 2, Orchid, and Disreputable Persons). He’s also compiled a handy “visitor’s guide” that allows fans and new readers to dig deeper into his ever-expanding oeuvre (get a free digital copy here). We asked Nelson to give us a peek behind the “Signalverse” curtain. His response below.
“I’m kind of a traditionalist when it comes to superhero universes – I like big, crazy worlds, full of magic, ancient gods, aliens, super-science, creatures from folklore, impossibly skilled martial artists, parallel worlds, and all the rest of it. Worlds like this give the writer a great deal of freedom, I feel; in my own Signalverse (so-called because most of the action takes place in the superhero metropolis of Signal City), for example, I can tell stories about globe-trotting mercenaries, crime-fighting billionaires, sorcerers, super-powered humans, or entirely ordinary people, and these stories can be as big or as small (scale-wise) as I want them to be.
“The White Ribbon Runs the Red Lights is the fifth book in the Signalverse series, and although the stakes eventually get pretty high, it’s not exactly a huge epic – I wanted to tell a smaller, more intimate story this time around, with a smaller cast. I also wanted to write a story starring teenagers, partly because the series hasn’t had any teen protagonists yet, but also because teenage superhero-stories are so full of dramatic possibilities. Self-doubt, alienation, raging hormones, juggling a school life with a superhero career … these kinds of things can be a lot of fun to play around with.
“This series hasn’t really received a great deal of attention, but the books are so much fun to write that I’ve been working on them almost exclusively for the past four or five years. A lot of the fun comes from the world itself; I got a little carried away creating the Signalverse, and I’ve got so many characters to work with now that I can’t imagine I’ll ever run out of story ideas.” (Find out more about Nelson at his website (here) and follow him on Twitter @limitblake.)
If you’re curious, our list of the best books of 2017 will be published in the next few weeks. In the meantime, check out author Sean Stansell’s top five favorite superhero novels (here). BookRiot.com chimes in with an additional nine books worth reading (here). In addition, the mob on Reddit.com has been chatting about superhero prose fiction (here). And on the other side of the fence, a gaggle of well-known authors (including Zadie Smith and Nick Hornby) talk about the comic books they enjoy (here).
Interviews: Charles Soule, author of The Oracle Year (here). Marissa Meyer, author of Renegades (here). George Mann, author of Ghosts of Empire (here). Sara Kuhn, author of Heroine Worship (here). Trish Heinrich, author of Serpent’s Sacrifice (here). Krysten Ritter, author of Bonfire (here).
For your reading pleasure: Catwoman: Soulstealer by Sarah J. Maas. Bumblebee at Super Hero High by Lisa Yee. The Flash: Climate Changeling by Richard Knaak. The Flash: Johnny Quick by Barry Lyga. Supergirl: Curse of the Ancients by Jo Whittemore. Heroine’s Journey by Sarah Kuhn. The Point by John Dixon. Captain Superlative by J.S. Puller. Kid Normal by Greg James, Chris Smith, and Erica Salcedo. Lona Chang: A Superhero Detective Story by Ashleyrose Sullivan. Villains Don’t Date Heroes! by Mia Archer. Born a Queen by Benjamin Medrano. Broken Princess, Vol. 1 by M. Hadley. Miss Nucleus by Jason Levine. Alita: Battle Angel: The Official Movie Novelization by Pat Cadigan.