Friday, July 8, 2011

Author Interview James Mascia

After reading High School Heroes I did have some questions for the author: Here is the description again of his book if you have not checked out my review yet.
What discovered you had the ability to read minds? What would you do with that power? On Christine Carpenter's first day of her sophomore year at Thomas Jefferson High School she makes a startling discovery. She can hear peoples' thoughts. After convincing herself she's not going crazy, Chris must learn to control her amazing mind-reading ability. Using her power she quickly realizes her crush, the captain of the football team, is also blessed with a special ability. She is soon sucked into a world she never thought possible when two more of her classmates, and a teacher, turn out to have powers as well. What are they meant to do with their special gifts that can either help, or harm others? Christine soon finds out when a monster, lurking in the depths of her school, threatens to murder the student population. When it becomes apparent that the creature is someone she knows, she must decide whether to try and save him, or destroy the beast. If she chooses destruction, can she live with the consequences
Why did you choose to write about high school students with super powers?

Well, first and foremost I am a big kid at heart. I am definitely one of those people you read about with “Peter Pan Syndrome”. In other words, someone who pretty much refuses to grow up. So, for me, writing about teenagers is perfectly natural, even though I haven’t been one in over 10 years. Also, the teen years are when most people really begin to discover who they are and when they start to become the people they are going to be the rest of their lives. I can’t think of a better time in someone’s life to set a major life-changing event in.

Then to answer the question about super powers, I think it kind of goes along with the first part of the question. Being a big kid, I have never outgrown comic books. I still go out and buy Spider-Man, Superman, X-Men and the like. Superheroes and their powers have always fascinated me. However, until recently, and if you take a look, “High School Heroes” would be on the front edge, there have been very few books dealing with super powers. Everything, up until the last year or so telling stories about superheroes (with few exceptions) have been in graphic novel form. So, when I set out to start this story, I wanted to tell an awesome and compelling story that would set a mark for this new “superhero” genre that seems to be emerging in novels.

What type of research did you do for this story, watch any specific movies or particular comics you focused on?

As far as research, I didn’t watch any movies, or base this off of any particular comics. I have the characters that reflect some long-standing characters. For example: The comparison is made in High School Heroes that Christine is much like Jean Grey and Ethan is very much like the Flash. But beyond the powers, there really is nothing similar about them.

Now, the places I mention in the book are real places. There really is a Thomas Jefferson High School, and it really is in Jefferson Hills, PA, which is just south of Pittsburgh. I did some research on that to make sure my descriptions were as accurate as possible, and I used Google Maps a lot to judge distances and further describe areas.

However, the bulk of the research I did had to do with World War II, and that had to do with Christine’s grandfather. The place he writes about in his journal, Camp Hero, is a real place on the eastern tip of Long Island, and some experiments were done there that are still being covered up today. Though the research I did is only touched upon slightly in “High School Heroes”, I delve more deeply into it in the sequel, not ironically titled “Camp Hero”.

Christine's powers develop suddenly one day and she is caught completely off guard, why did you choose the sudden powers instead of them developing slowly throughout their lives?
Well, if you look at it closely, while the power does spring up suddenly, it doesn’t become full blown right away. As a matter of fact, you will notice she develops new powers as the book progresses, and she will get even more in the second book. However, I figured I would go with it being hormones that actually triggers the powers. Why I decided on this is because, if you think about it, you don’t want a two-year-old lifting the sofa with her mind, or a toddler racing down the street on his big-wheels. Kids at that age wouldn’t know any better to cover up their powers and it would be a little hard to explain.

Plus, it goes back to my response to the first question: this is a life-changing event for these characters. Learning about their powers and discovering what they can do with them is going to define who they are their entire adult lives. If they had them since they were little kids, they’d be used to them already and have a handle on what they can and cannot do, there is no real room for change. If you look at it, even on Smallville, it really wasn’t until Clark was in high school that his powers started to develop.

I really liked Christine and even saw a lot of myself in her, how did you decide which voice would be your main character, for example in my opinion, the story would be great from Tommy or Ethan's perspectives.

From Tommy’s persepective huh? I’m not sure how I could do that, but there is some potential there for a good story. I’ll file that away for now and maybe revisit it someday.

Okay, so to answer the question: There are a couple of reasons I chose Christine. 1) The original short story featured Christine as the main character. 2) The first attempt at writing “High School Heroes” was essentially being told from four different points of view and overlapping and it became such a mess that I abandoned the project for a couple of months. 3) When I picked up the project again, I looked for the character that spoke the most to me, and Christine just wouldn’t shut up. It was her cynical nature and her dark, sarcastic tone that drew me to her. Why? Because for some reason, I relate to that, and I think many other people can to. 4) Christine has the most problems dealing with her newfound powers, and thus has the most interesting story to tell. I thought about telling it from Ethan’s perspective, but he is just so happy-go-lucky with his powers most of the time, it wouldn’t really work for good storytelling. He has no real conflict with his powers other than how he can’t show his true potential in sports because people would know what he is.

Who is your favorite superhero?

Now you get to the tough questions. I cannot say who my favorite superhero is, because I don’t really have one. I can give you a list of the ones I will read again and again like, Batman, Spider-Man, X-Men, Superman, Green Lantern, Hulk and of course Wolverine. But to pick a favorite out of that bunch… just can’t do it. I don’t mean to side-step the question, but for me, it’s like asking me to pick which one of my friends is my absolute best friend. I can’t say one without offending the other. So, you’ll just have to settle for the list I’m afraid.

If I could choose my superpower I would want to be able to turn myself invisible. What would you choose?

Ah, see and here’s the snafu again. You want me to answer a question that is unanswerable. Because how does one trade invisibility for the power of flight, or to run at the speed of sound for heat vision. You can’t really do it can you? I mean, I would love to be able to turn invisible so I could sneak into places I’m not supposed to go (get your mind out of the gutters there guys) and I would love to be able to fly, because… well, who the hell wouldn’t want to fly?

So, to answer the question, I am going to go for a superpower that is a little unconventional. One that I am sure many people have never thought of before. If I could have any superpower, it would be the ability to grant my own wishes. So, as you can see, I have found a loophole. Not only could I wish myself as having any superpower I wanted, but a plethora of other things, like being able to jump in and out of movies and books at will, or having my very own spaceship, or a mansion in Beverly Hills. The list goes on and on. They way I see it, if you’re going to dream about having a superpower, DREAM BIG!


  1. great interview! it's always great to gain insight to how an author came to write his/her book.

  2. Thank you Chelley! I completely agree, I am not a writer myself so the process is very interesting :)


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