The author of High School Heroes, James Mascia kindly offered to do an interview to post here on the blog!
So without further ado, here’s what James had to say!
1. What can you tell us about High School Heroes?
High School Heroes is the greatest book you will ever read, period.
No, seriously, High School Heroes is about a group of teenagers who discover they all have amazing abilities. Christine is the main character, and she has the ability to read others’ minds. But even though a large portion of the book deals with the teens and their powers, the main focus of the book is really about their everyday problems and relationships.
High School Heroes has romance, broken hearts, school bullies, losing friends, family problems, and of course some cool action. There’s even some history thrown in there to add to the backstory. So, there is literally something for everyone in this novel.
2. What inspired you to come up with the ideas behind High School Heroes?
The idea first came to me after talking to a man at the Baltimore Comic Con. We were talking a few years back about how there were very few, if any, prose fiction about superheroes. So, I decided I was going to write one. The only thing was, I didn’t know what to write. In my experience, as I’m sure it is with most people, the only place I’d ever read about superheroes was in comic books. So, creating a new story, from scratch, in a genre it wasn’t actually designed for, proved to be a challenge.
I entered a contest a month or so after this conversation, in which I had to write about something scary. That was all the contest wanted: something scary. I am never one to think inside the box, so when I first thought about what I should write about, I thought about the scariest place I could think of: a high school cafeteria. Then, I thought about what could possibly make a place like the cafeteria even scarier for someone.
That’s when I came up with the first character, and the main character of High School Heroes, Christine. I decided that the scariest power she could have, scary for her anyway, would be that she can hear the thoughts of anyone in the room with her. It sounds like a cool power, but as I always ask, “What if you can’t turn the power off?” She is afraid of the cafeteria, because with a hundred different minds all crammed in at once, it is impossible for her to think for herself, because her head is constantly being invaded by the thoughts of others.
Anyway, while writing this first short story, I discovered Christine’s second power. When she concentrates on someone long enough, she can see everything in their brain, including their greatest fear. She can then use that fear against them.
After writing this story, which was published in A Thousand Faces, I wrote a few more, all involving a teenage superhero. Eventually, I said to myself, “I have a longer story here.” And so I set to writing the novel. It started off being told from each of the four main characters’ points of view. But after a couple of chapters, I found it wasn’t working and decided to focus just on Christine’s story.
The first draft of High School Heroes took me nearly eight months to complete. Then another five months to edit, so it was worthy of being published. A lot of people don’t realize that you can’t just write a story and be done with it. To make it good and publishable, you need to edit, edit, edit. I can’t tell you how much work it was to edit everything. I must have read the story about six times from beginning to end, to make sure everything was perfect.
3. If you could have any sort of super power what would you most like?
See, now you’re playing with fire. I have never been able to decide on just one super power. After all, how can you trade flying for heat vision, or even super-speed? You just can’t. I can’t say I’d like to shoot ice from my hands and totally forget that fire is cool too. And then there’s always the one where people say they’d like the power to take other people’s powers. But when you think about it, living in the world we live in, where no one has super powers, it would be a pretty useless power to have.
However, I believe I have found a loophole which would allow me to have just about all the powers at any given time. I would have the super power to be able to grant my own wishes. Therefore, anything I ever wanted, including the superpowers, I could have instantly.
4. Which character would you say is most like you?
I have a little of each of my four main characters in me. And for me, they were all pretty easy to write, because I simply slipped into that part of myself when I wrote them.
Christine—She has my cynicism. She sees absurdity in just about everything around her and isn’t afraid to let people know she sees it. Her fear of crowds also stems from a fear of mine, although hers is magnified quite a bit.
Ethan—He has my fun loving side. He can take just about anything and turn it into a joke. The fact that he, the jock, is also the comic book geek is very reflective of my personality. While I didn’t play football in high school, I was pretty much the fastest runner my school had, which is also kind of like Ethan.
Peter—This is my shy side. Peter has a small, tight knit group of friends, and really won’t socialize with anyone outside of that group. While I am a bit more open than that, Peter is a bit like me in this category.
Savanah—She’s rude, obnoxious, and angry. Let’s just say, that when I get angry, I take no prisoners and tend to get very rude myself. This is pretty much Savanah’s entire personality. However, when you read about her, you’ll understand where the anger comes from. She does loosen up a bit in the sequels.
5. What's next for you?
Well, the sequel to High School Heroes, Camp Hero, is already with my publisher and is slated for release September 2011. The third part to High School Heroes, called Hero Heist, just finished its first draft and will be going to my published by mid-summer the latest and will probably be released sometime in late 2012.
I also have another novel called Urban Jungle in the works. I’ve only written about five chapters of it so far, but it’s getting to be a good story. I am not at liberty to reveal anything about it as of yet, but I can say that it doesn’t involve superheroes at all, but it does have zombies.
I’m also currently working on the graphic novel version of High School Heroes. People can view some of the pages on Wevolt.com.
6. Do you have any favourite authors?
Sure. H.G. Wells, J.R.R. Tolkien, Jules Verne, C.S. Lewis, J.K. Rowling – man, so many of them have initials instead of first names, what’s with that?
I also have to give a shout out to Kevin. J. Anderson. It is because of reading his books, particularly his Star Wars books, as a kid that made me want to write in the first place. He is probably my favourite author still writing today.
7. Do you have any all time favourite books?
All I’m going to say is take a look at my list of authors and guess what my favourite books are.
If you guessed, Lord of the Rings, Chronicles of Narnia, Harry Potter, 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea and The Time Machine, you’d be correct. However, I would be negligent if I didn’t also mention Ally Carter’s Gallagher Girl series (yes guys, you can read books about girls and still enjoy them) and the Star Wars: New Jedi Order series.
I am also a major fan of graphic novels, and one of my favourites of these is called Batman vs. Dracula: Red Rain. If you haven’t read it, do yourself a favour and get yourself a copy. It is awesome.
8. Are you reading anything at the moment?
Of course I’m reading something. I am both an English/Literature teacher and a writer, when am I ever NOT reading something?
Currently, I’m in the middle of the second part of the Kane Chronicle series by Rick Riordan. Speaking of which, we should add him to the list of my favourite authors. In this series, Riordan retells Egyptian myths. These books are awesome!
I’m also reading a graphic novel called Justice League: A Cry for Justice. It’s a pretty good story so far.
Then, on my Kindle, I’m doing the Star Wars: Lost Tribe of the Sith series.
Can you tell I like Star Wars yet?
9. Who would win in a fight against Spiderman and The Flash?
Well, I can tell you’ve read my book now, because this is a very argument Sam and Ethan have in High School Heroes. I’m not sure I will have a satisfactory answer for you. After all, Flash’s super-speed might very well be counter-balanced by Spidey’s spider-sense. And Flash’s reflexes are quick enough to dodge out of the way of any webbing Spidey flung at him.
However, I will say that if Spider-man and The Flash were ever to fight, the battle would be short. Not because anyone would be a clear winner, but because the they would quickly discover that the Rogues had teamed up with the Sinister Six in a plot to pit Spidey and Flash against each other, while they were able to take control of some super-weapon to take over the world. Once they discovered this, they would team-up to defeat the super-villains, and would only win because the Rogues don’t trust the Six, and therefore try to betray them before they themselves are betrayed, which causes them to fight amongst themselves.
So, the real question should be, “who would win in a fight, The Rogues or the Sinister Six?”
10. Anything else you'd like to add?
You can find me on Facebook by searching High School Heroes, or my name. And my handle on Twitter is @masciajames.
Look for more books coming out from me in the near future. Remember, we have two sequels for High School Heroes and a new novel, which may itself become a series (who knows?) called Urban Jungle. Check out the web comic for High School Heroes on Wevolt.com.
Thank you for having me on your blog. And thank you for the interview.