Today we have an interview with James Mascia the author of High School Heroes! I loved this book, and I also love having the opportunity to do this awesome interview!
Well, the first story started with Christine, who turned into the main character of High School Heroes. And her superpowers developed by accident. There was a contest for Halloween one year to write about something truly frightening. This was at the same time I was trying to come up with a good superhero story and trying to develop a character for it, so I decided to combine the two. I always wanted the main character to be a teenager, so I decided the setting of the story should be in a high school.
How did you pick which characters would have which super powers?
Now, I also set the story in a high school cafeteria, because that is, in my opinion, one of the scariest places on Earth. And finally, we come to Christine’s powers. I wanted Christine to be frightened as well, and I wanted that fright to be related to her super power. I thought about a hundred different things, including making her a human-bomb, just waiting for something to happen and having her spontaneously combust, but nothing seemed right. Then I thought about sort of a passive power. Reading people’s thoughts came to mind at once, and I thought about how scary it would be for someone to have that power in a room full of people and not be able to turn it off. It would be like being in a room full of a hundred radios blasting, all on a different station.
But that wasn’t enough for Christine. No, I had to take her powers a step further. So, I decide that to add to her own fear, that she could also project other people’s fears onto them as well. It connected beautifully with her mind reading ability, because she could figure out what they feared and then with a little push, make the person experience it.
I know I have gone on and on about Christine’s powers, but she is my leading lady, plus, as much as I hate to admit it, the way I cam up with her powers was the only one that is really at all interesting. Ethan, who is the star football player at the beginning of the novel, has super-speed, making him an incredible athlete. Peter is a skater and video game enthusiast and in the first story I wrote about him, he accidentally destroys his X-Box playing some first-person shooter with his friends online with his lightning-shooting ability. Savanah, I wanted her to pretty much have a chip on her shoulder, and I wanted her to use her powers pretty much out of anger. So, I thought about giving her a fire-based power, but it didn’t seem to work, and finally decided on simple brute strength.
A simple question, with a fairly simple answer: I love a good old fashioned western omelets with plenty of green chiles cooked inside and hot sauce on the top.
What's your favorite breakfast food?
Since I have written a sequel, and have a third in the works that continues the story, I would like to go back to the first one and just leave little clues in there as to what’s going to come next. I already have a few things in the first book that lead us into the second book, but I would like to have more to make it more connected.
If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in the book?
Tough question. Mainly because there are so many people I would like to meet. However, if I had to pick just one person, I’d have to pick George Lucas. I have two reasons for picking him. Number 1—Because the Star Wars movies (yes all 6 of them) remain my favorite movies of all time and if he hadn’t created them, I’d have a hole in my life that I wouldn’t know how to fill. I would have to compliment him on this until he grew so tired of me, he would throw me out of his house. Number 2—Because every single idea about any new Star Wars books, television shows, video games, etc., have to be approved by George, and I stand a much greater chance of having my ideas heard by him if I’m talking right to his face.
If you could meet someone living or dead, who would it be and why?
Actually, I can’t say that I did.
Did you apply a lot of your high school experience in High School Heroes?
I mean, first and foremost, I definitely couldn’t read other people’s minds, and if I had been able to, I surely would have instantly designed a costume and started running around my town as a real-life superhero.
Also, I wasn’t part of any of the “in” crowds. I wasn’t goth, or a jock, or part of the trendy crews. My friends and I just pretty much did our own thing and let everyone else do theirs. In high school, I could be found in the art classroom during the day and on the track after school. I got good grades in all my classes, but could have done so much better if I’d actually given 100% effort.
I can say, that I am pretty much different than my two main character in just about every way possible, and that their experiences do not reflect my own.
There are just too many to list. I have never had an absolute favorite, but there are many that I go back to time and again. I love the Chronicles of Narnia series as well as all 14 books in the Wizard of Oz series. Of course we cannot forget The Hobbit and the Lord of the Rings. And I’ve always been fond of the old Sherlock Holmes stories and anything by H.G. Wells and Jules Verne. Yes, it sounds strange, but I actually read all of these things as a kid.
What was your favorite book as a kid?
Now, those are regular books, as for comics or graphic novels, since I’m a kid I’ve loved The Death and Return of Superman, Batman vs. Dracula and pretty much every Green Lantern, Spider-Man and X-Men story.
I would like to add, that the question isn’t entirely fair, because although I read what many would consider classics as a kid and teen, I read any of the modern young adult series today. For instance, I love the Percy Jackson series, and adore The Gallagher Girls. I’ve read and loved Harry Potter and Twilight.
Well, first and foremost, I must admit that I am an absolute comic book geek. Since my dad first took me to the comic book store and bought me my first Superman comic, I have pretty much been hooked on the world of superheroes.
What made you want to write a "super hero" book?
That being said, the inspiration for High School Heroes came after I met a man at, guess where, a comic-book convention. We got to talking and he was saying how the only super-human stories you ever see are those in comics. Yes, there are a few Superman and Spider-Man novels out there, but very little in the way of super-human fiction. So, I set out to write something. It didn’t come overnight and as a mater of fact it began as a short story.
The short story was simply called “Fear” and it was the first incarnation of Christine. And while the story was supposed to be a one-shot deal, it didn’t stop there. Christine demanded to be written more, and so a second and a third story came into being. Finally, after the fourth story about Christine, I said, I might as well write a novel.
So, I did. And you can see the result. I have a full fledged story about my High School Heroes, and the sequel due out in September 2011.
So many people want to create their own superheroes and get them published, but very few do, so for accomplishing that, I am very proud.
Girl and guy do crime-fighting.
Last but not least, please describe your book to us in five words.
Reluctant goth turns into superhero.