Hello everybody, and welcome to Superhero Week! We’re all set to have a super good time, and if you haven’t seen our line-up yet you can check it out on this page!
First of all–have you seen the details on the writing contest? If you have not, you need to check them out immediately. Go, right now. It’s okay–we’ll wait for you. Just not too long. Are you done yet? Okay, good. Now what was I saying? Oh yes…
For our kick-off event we invited superhero author R.J. Ross for an interview. Ross is the author of the Cape High series, starting with “Super Villain Dad.” Cape High is a delightful young adult series featuring heroes and villains of all ages and talents. We’re going to be gifting the first arc of the Cape High series at the end of this post, so be sure to stick around!
Superhero fiction is a highly undeveloped genre. What made you decide to write it?
I actually didn’t realize it WAS a genre when I started out. I actually thought I was just writing another YA fiction series, one aimed at 13+ yr old teenage girls (thus the romance in the first four books.) That the characters were superheroes was just for fun, since YA comes in all sorts of styles, right? Imagine my surprise when I found out that there’s actually a genre, and even more surprisingly, I was doing well in it! I found myself meeting other superhero writers, joining a small group called Pen and Cape Society, and gaining fans of all genders and ages, and all because I stumbled into a genre I had no clue about.
What are some of your favourite superhero writers/books? Who do you draw inspiration from?
I have a few! One of my best writer friends is Cheyanne Young, she’s the author of the Powered Trilogy, which is a great series. The third one should be coming out soon, and she plans on moving on to another super series after that’s out. I also love Drew Hayes’ Super Powereds series, which can be found both on Amazon and on a webnovel site that he updates regularly. I also really enjoyed T. Mike McCurley’s Firedrake series–actually, here, I’ll make it a lot easier! I mentioned I’m a part of Pen and Cape Society, already, and the group is amazing. There’s something for every type of superhero lover, I swear. All of the people mentioned above are members, and they’re just the tip of the iceburg. You can check out more great writers at The Pen and Cape Society.
What made you decide to go with the self-published market? Did you ever try to get Cape High published traditionally?
When I first started writing I was intent on going the traditional way–get an agent, have the agent go to the publishers, etc. I sent letter after letter to agents, along with whatever novel I was working on at the moment, and got rejected every time. It was frustrating, and I really got tired of reading the same thing over and over again. Self-publishing was somewhat new at the time, but I’d spent years writing fanfiction and posting on fanfic.net. The basic concept of self-publishing was actually more familiar to me than dealing with an agent–so I tried it.
I tried Smashwords for a few years, but I didn’t do that well. I figured it was about time to quit, really, but I wanted to try Amazon first. It would be my last ditch effort, so I wanted to do it up right–complete with a brand new story, one I had thought about doing for a very long time. I wasn’t thinking traditional publisher at the time, heck, I figured it would be buried under the massive waterfall of books already on Amazon. That I’ve got a great little following of readers makes me extremely happy. (But I’m still not thinking traditional publishing. Being an “indie-writer” makes me feel ten times more rebellious than being mainstream.)
Mmm, it’ll be ten books long by the time this is published. I never set a limit on how many books I would write for it. I’m actually constantly debating on what character I want to do next. The really fun thing about writing this series is how I set it up–I’m constantly coming from a different angle, a different super power, a different background. It’s like writing a brand new book each time, instead of writing an ongoing story. Of course it IS an ongoing story, but I get a new take on it each time! I really don’t know when it’ll be over, but I do know I’ll probably start up a new YA series. Maybe I’ll go into Fantasy next!
Do you ever run out of ideas for new superpowers? Where do you go for inspiration on creating new capes?
That’s what Wiki is for. No, seriously, I’ve googled “Super power list” several times, read through the list and gone “oh, that looks fun!” I also have this massive desire to have characters that all types of readers can empathize with. I don’t want just picture perfect white guys with shiny smiles and big muscles, although I have a handful of them. I want variety and color. I already have an adorable little black girl with poofy pigtails that can outrun those shiny smile guys. I’ve got a beautiful little person that can cut through steel with her water abilities. I’ve got a laid back Italian that loves cooking and can light up like a torch. There are millions of people out there, each different–who’s to say I can’t come up with that many characters? (Well, maybe not a million, but obviously there’s a LOT of things I can do.)
I think my biggest inspiration is the world around me. A news story here, a kid walking past me when shopping, or just a general concept that catches my eye. And then I bring in the ability that caught my eye when reading the list.
Do you have a favourite hero from Cape High? What about a favourite villain?
It sort of feels like you’re asking me if I want to eat the same meal for the rest of my life. I have something about each character that I absolutely love, hero or villain. I love Nico for his droll one-liners and his distractable genius, I love Ken for his goofy honesty and faithful nature. I love Jeanie for her bubbly personality and the fact she can take down tanks with style. I love Taurus for his hair. No, actually, Taurus makes me extremely happy in several ways. As for villains–I adore Pan for being sane, and I love Skye for being insane. If I can make myself laugh or smile while writing a character, they’re my favorite. So, as you can imagine, I spend a lot of time grinning creepily at my computer screen–and sometimes flat out laughing my head off. I think it’s because I tend to let them do what they want to do, and putting them together makes it even more entertaining. Sometimes what happens is as much a surprise to me as it is to the reader.
I write the books, I publish the books, I write the books–no, seriously, what I try to do is finish a book, start a new one, get 30k of that book written and pause to revise the finished book. I go through it as carefully as I can, and then send it to my two beta readers. Once I get their revisions, I go in and fix the problems and put it up on Amazon. The book covers for the singles are simple enough, I use the Amazon book cover maker and stockphotosforfree.com for the images–they let you use their pictures even for commercial projects. I take an excerpt from the book and use that as a blurb, (I’ve found it works as well as writing a blurb for me.) Then I move on to finish the book I got to 30k with, finish it and start the next one. (I compile the arcs after they’re finished and buy a cover for the compilations from coveryourdreams.net.)
Now for advice for new authors… No matter how many times you read through something, there’s always a typo or a mistake that you miss. I always suggest having someone else (or more than one) read through it before releasing it to the public. Also, no matter how long you work on it, or how much you personally love it, there’s going to be someone that doesn’t like it. You can’t please everyone, so I suggest making yourself as happy as you can with your story. Chances are, if you reach a point that the story leaves you smiling, you’ll leave others smiling as well (not all of them, but even one is pretty awesome, if you ask me!)
And of course we have to ask: DC or Marvel? And who is your favourite superhero?
I’m a Marvel girl! Mostly because I still love the X-men, although I didn’t much care for the third one. I love Gambit and Pyro, especially. And Guardians of the Galaxy was a blast! (I’m also re-watching the old Loonatics Unleashed series at the moment, and I seriously love that.)
About the Author
R.J. Ross is the author of the Cape High series, a book series that focuses on teens learning how to use their powers, deal with their pasts, their relationships, and kick butt. She got her B.A. in English with an emphasis on writing from Rockhurst University. She enjoys writing, reading, and comedy. She’s also building a weapon of mass destruction in her basement and is looking for more toilet paper tubes. And plastic spoons. Yes. Please donate all plastic spoons to R.J. Ross. She wants to expand her mad scientist lab. It’s a very important cause.
Okay, so what’s this giveaway stuff you mentioned?
We’re giving away not one, not two, but four books! It’s the first arc in the Cape High series, packaged as one ebook. So how do you enter?
Oh good, I’m glad you asked that.
This is the kick-off event, so we’re not going to make you work too hard. Simply post in the comments with your answer to this question:
Who is your favorite super powered character and why?
To clarify–heroes or villains count, but you can’t have one of each. It can be from any story, any medium, but if it’s something less well known please include the title and/or author so other people can look it up. Your explanation of why does not have to be detailed, but comments of less than ten words will not be accepted.
The winner will be randomly selected and announced on Tuesday. You have until midnight local time April 27th to enter. No, I won’t be checking time stamps. This is an informal event. Now go tell all your family and friends what an awesome event this is going on, and be sure to come back tomorrow for even more super powered fun!