Since I was lucky enough to read an advanced reader copy (ARC) of Red and Black, I knew I had to know more behind the book! This is a fantastic debut novel — I hope you’re inclined to pick it up after reading this interview with the author. You can find my review of the book here.
ABOUT THE BOOK
Dawn Takahashi knows a thing or two about superheroes, from the fictional ones that populate her favorite comic books, to the real-life vigilantes who keep people safe. When she’s granted an impressive set of powers of her own, she dives right in, eager to prove herself as Bailey City’s first legitimate superhero. Dressed in red and black, Dawn spends her nights jumping from rooftop to rooftop, apprehending criminals with a smile. But by day, she finds her interactions marred by crippling social awkwardness.
Alex Gage is used to life giving him the short end of the stick, from his working-class upbringing, to the recent death of his mother. He works hard to support his younger sisters, hiding his anger and frustration behind laid back charm. It’s this charm that first draws Alex and Dawn together, but their secrets may tear them apart. Because while Dawn protects the city against threats, Alex unknowingly undermines her efforts by working as a henchman for Calypso, a mysterious woman who can make anyone loyal to her with a single touch of her hand.
It’s the classic story of boy meets girl. And hero versus villain. Where only one side can win.
You’ve called this book an urban fantasy with superheroes. What will appeal to fans to both genres?
I feel like I’m cheating a little bit here, because the urban fantasy and superhero genres are already so closely related. Both typically feature a modern day (usually city-like) settings and fantastical elements. Combine this with the fact that the supernatural aspects of urban fantasy worlds are often hidden, and many urban fantasy characters already have something like secret identities.
Red and Black was born out of my love for both genres. It has the taping of a superhero story, including superpowers, masks, and codenames. At the same time, it’s structured much like my favorite urban fantasy books. This includes a first-person perspective, quick pacing, and a prominent secondary romance.
DC or Marvel? Why?
It depends on the context. Marvel is clearly winning the movie game right now, but I do have a soft spot for the DC television show Legends of Tomorrow. When it comes to my comics, I prefer to follow certain characters or creators rather than stick with one universe. Not limiting myself means I get to enjoy my Squirrel Girl, Ms. Marvel AND Wonder Woman comics, and follow writers and artists like Brian K. Vaughan, Greg Rucka, Joelle Jones and Fiona Staples through their various projects. And there’s also a lot of great work with indie publishers right now, not to mention manga!
Since superhero movies and television shows are taking over the airwaves, who would you fan cast to play Dawn and Alex?
I am sooooo bad at this! So, I’m going to chicken out and go with “unknowns, please!” But seriously, casting young, fresh-faced actors whom viewers aren’t likely to associate with a pervious role seems preferable when casting leads in superhero media. Weirdly enough, I am a lot more comfortable playing this game with side characters. For example, in Red and Black, there is a prickly hacker that I can’t help but associate with Matt Smith-if he were American and let himself go a bit.
If you were a superhero, what powers or special abilities would you want to have?
I’m not really the throw myself into danger type, so I would probably pick abilities that work better in support functions. Having known several people that suffer with chronic conditions and pain, I would love to have the ability to heal. If I were to choose the more selfish route, being able to freeze time would be super useful. Think of all the things I could squeeze into my day!
What are your future plans for this series?
It’s obvious from the end of Red and Black that there is more story to tell, and I have plans for several more books. I am currently hard at work on the sequel, which I hope to have in the hands of my beta readers by late summer. After that, I have an absolutely terrible rough draft of book three waiting in the deepest darkest corners of my laptop’s hard drive. Don’t worry. It will get better.
Finally, leave us with a short excerpt to show readers why they should check out Red and Black!
I heard footsteps at my three o’clock.
I spun just in time to dodge out of the way as two fists came swinging toward me. I jumped back through the open doorway, landing on the floor. As a result, the blow missed me, hitting the carved wooden chair I had been standing next to instead. It practically exploded in a terrific crash, the once-solid piece of furniture now in a dozen pieces.
For a moment, all I could do was look up at the figure that stood over me, framed by the doorway to the back office. He was dressed from head to toe in some sort of hard, black material and wore a helmet that looked like the Tron version of Judge Dredd’s headgear. Everything about him was obscured except for his jaw, which was set in a firm line.
He was wearing a costume.
And I was pretty sure he wasn’t here to help out.
He moved through the doorway, arms raised for another two-handed blow. I rolled out of the way in time. He hit the hardwood instead, which splintered beneath his hands as if it had been glass. I was faster, though, and managed to get back to my feet. I clenched my hands into fists. He was clearly strong, but so was I.
I took a swing. His hands blocked and deflected my blow away from his face. He delivered a cross with his right that slammed into my jaw and sent me spinning backwards.
Ow, ow, ow, holy shit, ooooww!
Before taking up the mask, I, like most good (okay, painfully boring) girls, got decent grades, didn’t skip class, and never did anything that would make my mother too ashamed. I had never been hit before costuming up. Now I couldn’t count how many blows I had taken. That’s the reality about throwing yourself into the fray. You’re gonna get hit every now and then. Fortunately, that’s where my resilience kicked it. I could take a punch. It hurt, but the pain faded pretty fast.
I had never been hit this hard. This guy was big, it was true, but there was something more to him. Most people couldn’t turn a nice chair into kindling in a single blow.
I was still reeling from it when I felt hands at my collarbone. The next thing I knew, I was being lifted off my feet, then pinned to the nearest wall. I felt the drywall crumble.
Oh shit. Oh shit. I was not a high enough level for this boss fight.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Nancy O’Toole Meservier is a vertically challenged librarian who spends her off hours writing fiction, reading sci-fi/fantasy books and comics, watching geeky television, and thinking way too much about superheroes. She lives in Lewiston, Maine with two wonderful cats, and one equally wonderful husband.