I’m pleased to help celebrate the latest book in fellow author Nancy O’Toole Meservier’s superhero saga! Information about the book is below, along with some insights into her worldbuilding and writing processes and a short excerpt from the book.
ABOUT THE BOOK
The masks are off.
Dawn Takahashi has achieved her dreams by becoming Bailey City’s first superhero, but is it worth the cost?
After the fall of Calypso, Bailey City has been shaken. An anti-superhero movement, lead by former mayor Edison Kent, is starting to rise. Fortunately, most people are on Dawn’s side, viewing her superhero persona, Hikari, as an asset to the city.
Former supervillain Faultline is seen as a threat. The man behind the helmet, Alex Gage, spends his days keeping his head down, until his efforts to keep his identity concealed lead him straight to Dawn and their unresolved feelings for each other.
On top of that, new players have arrived at Bailey City in the form of a secret organization that gathers information on empowered beings. Plus, a mysterious figure that dresses in black and blue.
First of all, the obvious: Can this book stand alone if the reader has not yet read Red and Black?
I’d recommend Black and Blue to people who have already read Red and Black, as it builds upon relationships and concepts raised in book one. But I did my best to sprinkle in background information when necessary, so hopefully new readers will not be too lost.
How are the stakes rising for the characters, especially Dawn, as this series continues?
Weirdly enough, I felt like the stakes were raised not by adding more fight scenes (but don’t worry, they’re still here!), but by making the overall plot more personal. I’ve come to think of Black and Blue as my “time to grow up” book, as Dawn and Alex are forced to come face to face with their own faults and the consequences that arise from their actions, or inactions.
What did you learn writing your second book in comparison to the first? How do you feel that you’ve grown as an author?
Red and Black was such a lengthy writing process. I was dealing with a new series and new characters and getting my head around all of that was super-challenging for me. When I started Black and Blue, I naively assumed that with my universe established, the writing process would be so much easier.
Of course, I was dead wrong. I ended up throwing out the entire second half of the book. And then I threw out and rewrote about half of that. I remember being at a restaurant with my spouse and holding back tears of frustration. No matter how much I tried, my book just couldn’t do everything I needed it to.
The answer to my plight, which seems rather obvious now, was that I was trying to do too much. As much as I may have wanted to advance the series to a certain point, my main priority was this part in Dawn and Alex’s journey. I swear, had I not figured this out, I’d still be tearing apart drafts right now. It makes me realize why so many superhero movies as weighed down in their efforts to do too much at once.
Do you see Dawn (as her alter ego Hikari) fitting in better as a member of the Avengers or the Justice League?
The Avengers, without a doubt. While I love the Justice League members, there’s something so intimidating about them. And sure, the Avengers can come off as just as powerful or intelligent, but they feel more human. To me, someone like Dawn would fit in much better with the Marvel crowd. That and I’d love to see Hikari banter with Peter Parker.
What’s up next for you? Another book in this series, or are some other projects in the works?
Next up, I’ll be releasing my first Red and Black side story. Riley’s story will be a newsletter exclusive that focuses around a character introduced in Black and Blue. I hope to have it out around the new year. After that, it’s all about book three.
Finally, leave us with a short excerpt to show readers why they should check out Black and Blue!
“Apparently, November is not a good time for gelato.”
I looked up to see Alex and couldn’t help but smile. He was dressed in a brown leather jacket over a white T-shirt, a look that was incredibly James Dean, if James had possessed the body of Chis Evans. He smiled, and I had to hold back a little sigh. I know. It’s a cliché, but Alex was that good looking, with his brown hair, lightly tanned skin, broad shoulders, and slightly crooked nose. It made me wonder why he had even looked at a scrawny weakling like me.
In place of gelato, he held two steaming cups that smelled delicious.
“I don’t know how you like your coffee, but I figured I couldn’t go wrong with hot chocolate,” he said.
“That’s great,” I replied, reaching back to tuck a strand of hair behind my ear. “I prefer it, actually.”
“Then my instincts were right. May I?”
I nodded, and he took a seat next to me, passing over one of the cups. I reached out with one gloved hand (fingerless gloves, not the ones I wore when I was Hikari, although both pairs were black). For a moment, I just curled myself around the warmth from the cup.
“I’m really glad you agreed to meet with me,” Alex said. “To be honest, I kind of thought I was pushing my luck. For the past few weeks it’s been—”
“Radio silence, I know.” I dropped my gaze. “I’m sorry about that. I meant to contact you. It’s just…” I paused, shaking my head. “For weeks, it seemed like it was too soon. Then suddenly, it was too late.”
“But…that does sound like you’ve been thinking about me, right?”
I blushed, my lips tugging upward into a smile. “Well…maybe.”
“Phew, I was beginning to wonder if I was the only one still interested!”
I laughed, looking up at him.
“Really?” I asked.
“Come on, Dawn,” he said with a smile. “Would I lie to you?”
Before I could reply, a gust of wind came up and over the water, sweeping my shoulder length black hair up and into my face. (Ugh! That’s attractive. Thanks for ruining that moment, nature.) We looked out and over the pier, hearing, oddly enough, the sound of bubbling water, as if the ocean was boiling. Alex placed his cup of hot chocolate next to the bench and moved to his feet, lips pressed into a frown. I paused. Did the sky seem cloudier than before?
A dark, bulky figure launched up from the water, pushing himself impossibly high into the air. He landed ten feet away from us. I felt my breath catch in my throat. I’d recognize that helmet, that body armor, that impressive height anywhere.
“What the fu—” Alex began.
Before he could cuss appropriately, Faultline strode forward, crossing the space between us in three massive strides. Reaching back, he struck Alex across the jaw. His head snapped backward.
“Alex!” I gasped as he crumbled to the ground.
I spun toward Faultline, transforming as I moved. Instead of my street clothes, I now wore the costume of Hikari, red pants, a black top, and a black cape decorated with a pattern of stars. It was easy to see why people had called me “the Red and Black Woman” for weeks before Hunter Davies had given me my Actual name. My jet back hair turned bright red, my identity shielded with a black mask. I also grew about six inches and put on some serious muscle.
I wasn’t scrawny little Dawn any more.
Faultline moved first, swinging at me in a flurry of fists. I ducked right, then caught his next incoming blow with an open palm. Wrapping my fingers around his fist, I shoved him backward, sending him stumbling across the pier. Faultline was crazy strong, but so was I.
“You’re going to pay for hurting my date,” I said, every trace of shyness gone from my voice.Nancy O’Toole Meservier, Black and Blue (Red and Black #2)
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Nancy O’Toole Meservier is a librarian who spends her off hours writing, reading, and thinking way too much about superheroes. She lives in Central Maine with two wonderful cats and one equally wonderful husband. She is the author of both Red and Black and Black and Blue. Check out her website for more information.