Today, I have the pleasure of hosting Author Joe Sergi on his Virtual Book Tour for SKY GIRL AND THE SUPERHEROIC ADVENTURES. Enjoy.
About the Book
Being a teenage girl is hard enough, but for DeDe Christopher, it is proving impossible.
In addition to cliques, books, and boys, she has to worry about capes, apes, and aliens. Last year, DeDe discovered that she possessed fantastic abilities that were strangely similar to those of a comic book character named SkyBoy.
With the help of her best friend Jason, a self-professed comic geek, DeDe accepted her legacy and became Sky Girl. Now, DeDe must learn what it means to be a heroine as Sky Girl faces the all too real enemies and allies of SkyBoy, including the clever Quizmaster, the beautiful Penny Pound, the enigmatic Jersey Devil, and the magical MissTick.
DeDe must also face personal challenges as she discovers the secrets of her late father and his connection to Skyboy--secrets that will affect Sky Girl’s destiny.
Purchase paperback from Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Girl-Superheroic-Adventures-Series-Volume/dp/1625530277/
Purchase digital version from Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Girl-Superheroic-Adventures-Series-ebook/dp/B00D4FHE7U/
Purchase paperback or digital from Barnes and Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/sky-girl-and-the-superheroic-adventures-joe-sergi/1115472264
Cool cover. Makes me want to read about this girl.
About the author:
Joe Sergi lives outside of Washington, DC with his wife and daughter. Joe is an attorney and a Haller Award winning author who has written articles, novels, short stories, and comic books in the horror, scifi, and young adult genres. Joe is the creator of the Sky Girl series of novels and the editor of Great Zombies in History. His first novel, Sky Girl and the Superheroic Legacy was selected Best of 2010 by the New PODler Review. Joe is a life-long comic fan who regularly writes on the history of comics and censorship for the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund. A complete list of Joe’s titles is available at www.JoeSergi.net. When not writing, Joe works as a Senior Litigation Counsel in an unnamed US government agency and is a member of the adjunct faculty at George Mason University School of Law.
The author was kind enough to answer some questions for me.
Hi, Joe. Welcome to my blog. Please tell us about yourself and how you became a writer.
I have always been a storyteller. As a child, I spent a lot of my time in imaginary worlds with imaginary friends and fantastic creatures. Luckily, I had teachers and parents that encouraged this behavior rather than medicating me. My parents tell me that they used to get notes about my vivid imagination. I also have very fond memories of sitting in the back of the car on long family trips with my markers and crayons and making my own comic books. In college and law school, I found an outlet for my creativity through standup comedy and acting. As an adult, I decided that I wanted to be a litigator. Many people think this is because a trial attorney is just a storyteller with the judge or jury as the audience (nonfiction of course).
I remember the details of my first publication as if it were yesterday. Although I had published a few articles in high school and college, as well as some law review articles, my first real publication was in Trail of Indiscretion Magazine. I met the publishers at the Baltimore ComicCon. I was so impressed with their magazine that I wrote the first draft of “Death Imitates Art” on the train on the way home. “Death Imitates Art” is about an author, who is promoting his novel about a Cult at a science fiction convention. He meets a group of warriors who thinks that the cult is real and madness ensues. I submitted it and, although they liked the concept, a lot of rewriting was necessary. I learned a lot through that story—especially what not to do.
When you were a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
For as long as I can remember, I have wanted to be a lawyer. Interestingly, there were no lawyers in my family. So, everything I learned about being a lawyer I learned from books and television. My mother tells me of a time when she read me Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird. It was the scene right when Atticus finished his day in court and began to leave. The townspeople stand up (like they did for the judge) and when Scout asks why, someone replies, “Your father’s passing.” I should add that scene was just as powerful in the movie.
I must have been influenced since it fueled me all the way through law school and an LL.M. (Masters of Laws) program at NYU. Today I work as a trial attorney and while I may not defend the rights of Tom Robinson, I am honored to represent the federal government as a Senior Litigation Counsel.
Twitter your newest release in 140 characters or less.
Sky Girl is a coming of age story with capes, apes, and aliens. The new book continues her adventures and adds mystery to her story.
How did you come up with the idea for your book and were there any glitches along the way?
The Sky Girl trilogy was conceived in a comic’s podcast forum project and born out of a father’s love for his daughter.
The Comic Geek Speak Podcast is made up of a bunch of great guys that love comics. I have listened to them for several years and am still an active member of their forums. It was on those forums that I learned about a proposed prose anthology, which would be written by the listeners of the podcast. I wrote a story called the Return of Power Boy, a story about a middle aged accountant, who may or may not be a superhero. (The anthology was never produced and the story was later featured in A Thousand Faces, the Quarterly Journal of Superhuman Fiction and won me the Haller for Best Writer.) The story was a very dark tale of what happens when a super villain wins. One of the very minor characters was the accountant’s four year-old daughter, CeeCee.
Sometimes writers don’t create their characters, they channel them and that’s what happened with CeeCee. After the story was finished, I kept coming back to that little girl. What kind of life would she live, would she develop her father’s powers, and what would she do if she did? Well, CeeCee became DeDe, and the character of Sky Girl was born.
By this time, I had a daughter of my own, Elizabeth. And I can’t help but think that this is what converted the very dark Power Boy story into the light hearted story of Sky Girl. It is also why DeDe is a strong teenager and not defined by the men in her life. Don’t get me wrong, she is not your typical one-dimensional stereotype. Like most of us, DeDe is bold and confident when she is with her best friend and family, yet she is shy and insecure in public, especially when it comes to her crush, Adam, and rival, Nicole. The first book is really about DeDe’s journey to find herself and she makes a lot of good decisions, but she also makes some bad and selfish ones. But, she ends up in the right place. I hope she inspires my daughter to make good decisions.
At the end of the day, my Sky Girl trilogy is the culmination of reading far too many great comics, finding far too few strong female characters and loving my daughter just enough.
I wouldn’t say there were glitches along the way, just some obstacles. For example, I was unaware of just how hard it is to sell a young adult prose superheroine book. While people have no problem accepting superheroes on television or in movies, for some reason many publishers believe that no one wants to read about superheroes unless they are in a comic book. This is kind of sad. Several large publishers loved the concept, but would only consider it if I changed it to a graphic novel (and one suggestion to dumb it down into a preschool book); something I was unwilling to do. Thankfully, smaller press publishers, like Martin Sisters Publishing are willing to take a chance on superhero fiction. Perhaps Sky Girl will fail miserably and prove that people need pretty pictures to read about superheroes, but the readers have not let me down yet.
Another complication is that some of my characters just wouldn’t behave. I had this entire story plotted out that ended up with the main characters in a completely different place. But, as I wrote, I found it more and more difficult to follow the outline. I kept think, “Jason wouldn’t do that.” Or “Why would DeDe care about that?” So, the trilogy ended up in a completely different spot and I had to go back and rework all of the original chapters. (Not to mention that I cut several characters—like DeDe’s brother—that added nothing to the story).
You’re shipwrecked on a deserted island. What character from a book other than yours would you want to be stranded there with you? Why?
I was going to go with Robinson Crusoe, but he really would have been lost without Friday. So, I’m going to go with Oliver Queen (Green Arrow) from More Fun Comics #89 (his origin is later flushed out in Adventure Comics 256). He has already proven that he has the skills to survive and would be useful on an island. Of course, if I wasn’t married, any one of the leading ladies from Edgar Rice Burroughs pulp stories (Dejah Thoras, Thucia, Phaidor, Jane Porter, etc.) would do.
If we peeked inside your closet, what would we see?
My closet is full of suits for my day job. My basement storage area is much more interesting as it is currently filled with dozens of comic book longboxes, each of which contains many comics that I still need to read. I am huge comic book fan and have been since the 1970s. A longbox holds around 275 comics. I have more than 75 in my basement. They are mostly the books I’ve personally purchased over the years when they were new. But, there are also back issues I picked up at shows that go all the way back to the 30s. Add to that the five bookshelves of trades (collected editions) and that is a lot of comics and you will realize that my basement is a comic collector’s dream.
Tell us your favorites:
Movie Star Wars
Actor Harrison Ford
Actress Keira Knightley
Book To Kill a Mockingbird
Singer or Group Billy Joel
Coffee or tea? Tea, light and sweet. Several cups a day. I bribed my daughter with a Club Penguin membership so that she would get up each day and make me my tea before work. For the past fifteen years, I have also been meeting a co-worker for coffee after I get there (I buy tea). I usually end the day with a cup of green tea.
Spring, Summer, Fall, or Winter? This is a hard question. I like the weather during spring as everything comes back to life. But fall has Halloween, which is an awesome time. I love Halloween. I’ve loved Halloween even before it was trendy. For a couple of years I even had an annual Halloween party. First in bars; and later in my house. I still go all out. Last year, we converted our house into Monster High and my daughter and I dressed as a father/daughter werewolves (vampires the year before that). This year, we are going to convert our house into Gru’s lab and dress up like minions. (Maybe my wife will join in the fun). There is something magical about dressing up as a superhero, villain, or monster for one night.
If you could have super powers what would you wish for?
I would love to fly. The ability to escape from gravity and soar among the clouds would be a great way to spend a day. And, as resident of the metro DC area, I can certainly appreciate avoiding sitting in traffic.
If you could choose to live in another time, would you prefer the past or the future?
The future. Who knows what will come next.
Are you working on any new books now? Tell us about them.
In addition, to the Sky Girl book, this year I edited a comic anthology called Great Zombies in History through McFarland Press. I also write regular articles on the history of comics and censorship for the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund (CBLDF.org). Great Zombies in History is a new graphic novel anthology released from McFarland Press. I met a talented group of writers through Andy Schmidt’s Comics Experience writing classes and we decided to form an independent comic imprint called Elevator Pitch Press to showcase our work. We have released several anthologies that have ranged from horror (Don’t Be Afraid) to grind house (Girls with Guns) to science fiction (Aliens Among Us). Great Zombies in History is an anthology of historically accurate stories, but written to include zombies. For example, I wrote The Zombie War of 1812, which features the real reason that Washington, DC was burned during the war. Rob Anderson, writer of the best selling BDI book, Rex: Zombie Killer and who acted as editor on the original project, did a story about how zombies helped King Leonidas and his army of 300 Spartans hold their own against immeasurable odds.
I should also mention that I write a regular column for the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund (CBLDF.org) on the history of censorship in comics. It takes a lot of work to do those columns, but I believe the CBLDF is an important organization and am glad to help them in their mission to protect comic creators against censorship. I recently did articles on the rise and fall of romance comics, a before and after analysis of the comics code on reprinted books, and detailed histories of Sheena, Superman, and Wonder Woman. People with an interest in discovering the history of comics or censorship should check them out.
As for what’s next, not counting comics (I have a couple pitches in progress that I can’t discuss) or the re-release of the first Sky Girl book (Sky Girl and the Superheroic Adventures) and the third book in the series from Martin Sisters Publishing, I have two new books in process.
First, I’m working on my first non-fiction book, Comic Book Law, Cautionary Tales for the Comic Creator, from McFarland Press. It’s not a secret that I am an attorney and I find that when I appear at shows, I am often asked about the legal side of the business. People are always asking about the latest case or the history of a certain character. My upcoming book came up as a result of some my guest appearances on Comic Geek Speak and articles I’ve written for Ape Entertainment’s now defunct Comics Now! Magazine. Basically, Comic Law features the stories behind the cases. For example, most people know that DC Comics was sued over Superman by his original creators, but they probably don’t realize that the case was a roller coaster ride that took almost 70 years to resolve. In addition, the book provides guidance, but not legal advice, to comics creators who want to understand the basics behind concepts like copyright, trademark, contracts, and censorship and how they have relate to the comics industry. And while Comic Book Law is certainly not meant to be a “how to” book, there are a lot of good and bad examples of what creators can do to protect themselves. In addition, these behind the scenes stories should also be entertaining to non-creator comic book fans as a peek behind the curtain of the industry they love. For example, the book discusses the original inspiration for Josie and the Pussycats, explains why Captain Marvel became Shazam, and discusses how the Comics Book Code nearly killed the industry and resurrected the superhero.
I will say, from a craft point of view, writing nonfiction is much more difficult for me than writing fiction and Comic Book Law took a lot longer to complete than I thought. The reason for this comes down to one word: research. I spent countless hours in the Library of Congress and various Court Houses across the country reading transcripts and exhibits. In short, I have found it’s much easier to invent an alien des ex machina than to research how to build one in the library.
The second book is a paranormal novel tentatively titled “Imaginary Friends” that involves a ghost hunter, a priest, and a single father and daughter. The first draft is done, but it needs a lot of work. I hope to shop it around next year.
Where can your fans learn more about you?
Website: My author site is www.joesergi.net; Sky Girl can be found at www.SkyGirlNovel.com, and the official site for Great Zombies in History is www.GreatZombiesinHistory.com; my monthly articles can be found at www.cbldf.org. I’m also on Facebook, Twitter, GetGlue, Good Reads, and pretty much any other social media outlet.
Would you like to share anything else with your fans?
Just to say “thank you.” Readers are awesomely dedicated to books. I mean sure, as a writer, I have to be dedicated to creating the story and provide entertainment. But at the end of the day, I write for me—because I have a story to tell. I would write if no one ever read it. (For evidence of this, you should look at the sales figures for some of my earlier work). Readers on the other hand, have no such compulsion. They spend their valuable time and money on someone else’s work. There are a lot of great books out there by some amazing authors (living and dead). As a result, these people don’t need to take a chance on me (or any other unknown), but they do. I really appreciate that. And nothing is more rewarding than someone coming up to me at a show and telling me that they really loved my book, or that it is their daughter’s favorite book, or that they made (or had someone make them) a Sky Girl costume for Halloween or a ComicCon. If you want to know a secret, book festivals and comic conventions aren’t that lucrative for me (I rarely ever make my table cost). But, writing is pretty solitary, so the chance to meet people is priceless.
And a “thank you” to you for having me on your site and letting me talk about my book.
Thank you for taking time out of your busy day to visit with us. Stop by anytime.
Sky Girl and the Superheroic Adventures Tour Schedule
Tuesday, September 3rd
First chapter review at The Children’s and Teens’ Book Connection
Wednesday, September 4th
Book spotlight and giveaway at My Devotional Thoughts
Thursday, September 5th
Interview at As the Pages Turn
Monday, September 9th
Interview at Examiner
Wednesday, September 11th
Interview at Blogcritics
Thursday, September 12th
Book review and giveaway at Mommynificent
Friday, September 13th
Book spotlight at Literarily Speaking
Monday, September 16th
Interview at Literarily Speaking
Thursday, September 19th
Guest post and giveaway at Freda’s Voice
Friday, September 20th
Guest post at Lori’s Reading Corner
Monday, September 23rd
Book spotlight at The Writer’s Life
Tuesday, September 24th
Guest post at The Writer’s Life
Friday, September 27th
Interview at Pump Up Your Book
Tuesday, October 1st
Guest post and giveaway at The Busy Mom’s Daily
Wednesday, October 2nd
Guest post at The Story Behind the Book
Guest post at Paperback Writer
Friday, October 4th
Interview at Between the Covers
Monday, October 7th
Book spotlight at Review from Here
Tuesday, October 8th
Book review at Library at the END of the Universe
Wednesday, October 9th
Interview and giveaway at Tribute Books Reviews and Giveaways
Thursday, October 10th
Interview at Straight from the Author’s Mouth
Monday, October 14th
Book spotlight at YAdult Review
Tuesday, October 15th
Interview at The Children’s and Teens’ Book Connection
Wednesday, October 16th
Interview at The Story of a Writer
Thursday, October 17th
Interview at The Dark Phantom Review
Monday, October 21st
Interview at Broowaha
Wednesday, October 23rd
Character interview at 4 the Love of Books
Guest post at The Crypto-Capers Reviews
Friday, October 25th
Book review at Cheryl’s Book Nook
Monday, October 28th
Guest post at Authors and Appetizers
Tuesday, October 29th
Guest post at Cheryl’s Book Nook
Monday, November 4th
Book spotlight at Literal Exposure
Monday, November 18th
Book review at Mary’s Cup of Tea
Tuesday, November 26th
Book review at The Children’s and Teens’ Book Connection
Wednesday, November 27th
Book tour highlights at The Book Rack
Friday, November 29th
Book review at CelticLady’s Reviews
More tour stops coming soon! Interested in hosting this author? Email Cheryl at ccmal(at)charter(dot)net.