One of my earliest memories is a vague recollection of watching one of the Superman flicks on HBO with my dad back in the early eighties. Later in the decade it was Batman (thank you for taking me Dad!). But my real appreciation of superheroes and comic book lore didn't really take root until I was asked to play one of the X-Men in a RPG group a friend of mine had going. There's something richly liberating and emotionally challenging about writing men and women with superhuman powers or the need to protect the people they love by donning a costume and going vigilante. I loved every part of it, but especially the complexities of developing romances between these types of characters. Even though it's been nearly four years since I hung up my superhero personas not a day goes by that I don't miss it and if you love the genre you'll understand why.
Today I have a VERY special treat for you guys, I'm welcoming four of the five authors who contributed to the HOLDING OUT FOR A HERO anthology. Y'all know I hate writing interviews but this one is the exception. I hope they had as much fun answering these questions as I had deciding which ones to ask. Now get to reading and be sure and enter to win a copy of the anthology via the widget!
Q1: Superheroes in media have been on the rise beyond the traditional comic book crusader format for years but the past decade has really favored them in film. These days we see them not just as the men and women who fight for a cause, but as heroes and heroines in need of some love too. Excluding your own characters from the HOLDING OUT FOR A HERO anthology, who are some of your favorite superheroes and their love interest pairings?
Christine Bell: OOOOH, good question! Well, I’m very vocal in my assertion that Batman is not, in fact, a superhero (rich guy+gadgets
Nico Rosso: First off, thanks so much for having us, Rhianna! I remember reading comics in the Eighties, and being taken by a storyline where Spider-Man was dating the Black Cat. Due to some circumstance, she actually created bad luck for him whenever they were together. It was heartbreaking, knowing they should be a couple, but were being kept apart by the external forces. It was great example of how superpowers are an interesting way to extend the metaphors of being in a relationship, similar to what I did when I devised the kinds of powers for Vince and Kara to have in IRONHEART.
Tamara Morgan: They don’t really count as a superhero couple, but I always liked the idea of Joker and Harley Quinn. Their relationship would be a hot mess of villainous dysfunction. And smudged clown makeup.
Ella Dane: I’d have to say one of my favorite pairings is Superman and Lois Lane. They always had such great banter that made me smile, and they just looked great together. What I loved most about them was how much Superman loved her. I mean, reversing the world’s rotation and turning back time so he could save her? Now that’s love. J
Q2: While there are plenty of cool comic book heroes without super powers, I’m pretty sure we’d all agree there’s a certain allure to being super human. As writers you not only get to pick the special gifts your characters have, you have to make worlds in which they can exist with at least some plausibility for we readers to wrap ours heads around. What super powers or abilities would you love to have no matter how unrealistic or over-the-top?
CB: Wow, okay, so first and foremost, time-bending/the ability to manipulate time. If you have that, you have it all, right? You can stop and fix just about anything if you know it’s coming and get to rewind. I’d also like to fly. Not a fan of heights, so I’m not sure how much I’d *use* it, but it’s nice to know it’s there in a pinch. Oh! And would like the ability to never have to shave my legs again but ALSO not be hairy. So what would that be called?
NR: One of the standard powers I’d love to have is flight. Not just for getting around town without worrying about traffic, but also for the unique vantages it would give you. How incredible to watch a sunrise from a thousand feet in the air? On a more practical level, I’d like the super ability to select and use an avocado at its peak of freshness.
TM: Teleportation! (Naturally, this desire pops up most often in the winter, when I’d give just about anything to travel to a tropical beach somewhere. I only need an hour or two. I’m not greedy.)
ED: I think I’d like to be indestructible—never break, never suffer illness—and invisibility would be cool, as would being able to transport myself with just a thought. I’d like that ability right now actually, because I’d really like to blink myself out of winter and to somewhere hot and sunny.
Q3: Ten years ago, your story in HOLDING OUT FOR A HERO, probably would not have found a publisher willing to take a chance on it. Right now the publishing industry is shifting and evolving rapidly with the rise of the ereader, indie ebook-first publishers like Entangled, and self-publishing. As niche writers—in this case, at least—what other uncommon themes or sub-genres would you like to see being written and published by yourself or others?
CB: I’m really happy that erotic romance is getting more mainstream and would love to see m/m romance get that type of platform. There are a lot of really amazing m/m authors who’ve been grinding it out a long time who I feel like are really going to gain some notice and blow the doors off this thing really soon. As for me, I’ve dipped my toe in the steampunk waters and realllly love that, so I’d like to write more when I have the chance.
NR: I agree that it’s a really exciting time in romance, with a ton of variety because of all the venues for readers to get their stories. With all that latitude to explore, I’d like to find some unique time periods to set romances. Cold war Sixties, or the Roaring Twenties. Places we haven’t seen that much, but with plenty of cool atmosphere to discover.
TM: I’m waiting for more non-traditional heroes. I think we’ve been pretty good at opening the doors to all types of heroines, but the men tend to continue being strong, silent alpha types. (Which are great—don’t get me wrong!) But I’m excited about seeing more beta heroes, especially in erotic romance and contemporaries, where they are sorely needed.
ED: I’m not really sure. I think with indie and self-pubbing right now, just about anything and everything you can think of is being written and published.
Q4: With From the Ashes as the exception, since Adrien-Luc Sanders couldn’t be here for this interview, each of your stories features a heroine with super powers. While female superheroes have had plenty of comic book coverage, I personally find it disappointing there are few making it to the big screen. Do you think your superheroine deserves her own movie and why or why not?
CB: SHE DOES! Scarlett Fever is not only awesomely badass (she is FIRE, for crying out loud!) she’s also seriously funny, ballsy, impulsive, and a little crazy. In other words? Relatable. I think she’d be a trip on screen. I’d love to see Emma Stone in the role!
NR: Absolutely, the superheroines deserve plenty of screen time. They put their lives on the line, just like the men. And they kick just as much butt. It’s not just the supervillains they have to fight either, they’re also battling society’s archaic ideas about how powerful a woman really is.
TM: All we need is one really good, well-done superheroine movie, and I think it will set the tone for future efforts. To date, the attempts at superheroine movies haven’t been all that great (I’m thinking of Elektra and Halle Berry’s Catwoman, in particular.) If they would just give a superheroine a good script and generous budget, a la Iron Man, I think the genre could really take off.
ED: I think Scarlett Fever definitely deserves her own movie. She’s a kick ass chick for one thing, but for another I think she’d make a great role model for a lot of young girls. She’s strong, knows who she is, doesn’t take can crap from anyone, and has a wicked sense of humor. But most of all, she’s herself. She doesn’t try to be anyone else, but embraces all that she is, owns it, and rises to every challenge placed in her path. We’re all strong, we all have power, and I think seeing that more often could do a world of good.
Q5: One of my favorite parts of superhero lore is the villains. They just get to have so much fun being bad! Yep, I think if I were a comic book character I’d wind up being a villainess—pretty sure my husband would agree. It seems impossible to have a great superhero without a proper villain to be the vinegar to his (or her) baking soda. In your story which was more fun to write, the good guy(s) or the bad guy(s) and why?
CB: I’m not sure what Ella will say here, but I really loved writing our villain Torrent. Because Torrent’s identity is a surprise, I can’t say much more than that, but it was FUN creating the character!
NR: In IRONHEART, my main conflict was actually between my hero and heroine, so the villain takes kind of a back seat. He’s there to make things dangerous, and really sets off the clock for the action. But the real fun for me was working on Vince and Kara, individually and the dynamic between them.
TM: I liked my medium guy the best. The hero’s sidekick was the most fun, as he was neither good nor bad—he just went his own way. The middle ground provides great opportunities for both fallibility and heroism.
ED: Hmm… that’s a really hard question to answer. I love my superheroes absolutely, but there’s a little something extra when writing the villains. They have a bit more rein to go crazy. I had one villain that was so much I ended up revising my whole story outline so he could live. *g*
Q6: Lastly, I want to thank you all for writing super-powered romances and let you know I look forward to hopefully seeing more in the future (*nudge, nudge*). But before you head back to your latest manuscripts one more question just for the sheer fun of it... if being an author was a superpower what would your costume look like?
CB: Yoga pants, a hoodie and fuzzy socks. My utility belt would hold nothing but travel mugs full of coffee.
NR: The pants would definitely be comfortable. There would be a power helmet with integrated headphones that always played music appropriate for the scene being written. Fingerless gloves for ease of super-fast typing. No sleeves on the shirt, just in case some writer’s block-busting pushups were necessary. Lastly, all the material would have the ability to repel cat hair.
TM: Yoga pants. Bleary eyes. Coffee stains. And a cape.
ED: I actually already have a superpower author costume. Its all black: Black leggings with tall black leather boots that have studs up the sides, a black tank top and a long black cap with red inside collar. I wear it with a black hat and mask…. And now that I think about it, I look like I could be Zorro’s sister. *g*
Holding Out for a Hero : A Superhero Anthology
by Christine Bell and Ella Dane
by Nico Rosso
Playing With Fire
by Tamara Morgan
by Adrien-Luc Sanders
by Christine Bell and Ella Dane
After five years in training, it’s finally time for Scarlett Fever and her fellow superheroes to leave the United Superhero Academy and test their powers out in the real world. There’s only one problem. She’s been assigned to partner with arrogant, by the book, and irritatingly hot, Blade of Justice.
Blade’s whole life has gone according to plan, and he’s more than ready to move on to the big time, protecting a metropolis of his own. But his perfectly ordered life is derailed when he’s teamed up with the fiery maverick, Scarlett Fever.
Sparks fly the moment they arrive in Plunketville, Oklahoma, as they each set out to force the other to request a transfer. They soon discover there’s more going on in this single stop-sign town than blowing up mailboxes and cow tipping. If Scarlett can get Blade to listen to his gut, and he can teach her to use her head, they just might have a fighting chance.
by Nico Rosso
Vince might be hard as steel, but he’s not invincible. Not when iron touches him, especially in the hands of an evil minion. Not when Kara ran away after a whirlwind affair, just when he thought he might be falling in love. And definitely not when she returns, looking for his help.
The archvillain TechHead is coming for Kara and her superhero teammates, and he’s determined to use their combined power to create the ultimate weapon. But Kara can’t fight him alone. She needs Vince’s brutal skill, though being with him means she risks losing her beloved secret identity, leaving her nowhere else to hide.
When TechHead makes a play to capture Kara, Vince has more to lose than just his heart. But he will do anything for the woman he loves, even if it means putting his heart on the line again.
Playing With Fire
by Tamara Morgan
Fiona Nelson has always been one hot ticket—even before she took the conversion serum that gave her superhu¬man abilities. Fiona’s powers come at a price: lack of human contact, or she won’t be the only thing burning. When she loses control of her emotions, her fire powers run rampant... and she’s hurt enough people already. Including herself.From the Ashes
But when the man behind her conversion returns to black¬mail her into helping him gain power, the only person she can turn to is Ian Jones, the man who broke her teenage heart. The man determined to expose the criminal known as Fireball, whose explosive escapades are just a little too close to Fiona’s M.O.
Ian is convinced Fiona’s dangerous, convinced she’s Fire¬ball, and convinced he’ll damn himself if he doesn’t resist a heat that’s always drawn him to Fiona like a moth to a flame—but Ian has his own secrets.
And he’ll learn far too soon what happens when you play with fire.
by Adrien-Luc Sanders
Sociopath. Killer. Deviant. Monster, devoid of morals, incapable of human emotion. The villain known as Spark has been called that and more, and as a super-powered aberrant has masterminded count¬less crimes to build his father’s inhuman empire.
Yet to professor Sean Archer, this fearsome creature is only Tobias Rutherford--antisocial graduate research¬er, quiet underachiever, and a fascinating puzzle Sean is determined to solve.
One kiss leads to an entanglement that challenges ev¬erything Tobias knows about himself, aberrants, and his own capacity to love. But when his father orders him to assassinate a senator, one misstep unravels a knot of political intrigue that places the fate of hu¬mans and aberrants alike in Tobias’s hands. As danger mounts and bodies pile deeper, will Tobias succumb to his dark nature and sacrifice Sean--or will he defy his father and rise from the ashes to become a hero in a world of villains?