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.
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Q: Thank you for this interview, Joe. Can you tell us what your latest book, Sky Girl and the Superheroic Adventures, is all about?
A: Sky Girl and the Superheroic Adventures is the sequel to Sky Girl and the Superheroic Legacy. In the first book, readers met DeDe Christopher, an ordinary teen with an extraordinary destiny to become Sky Girl. Being a teenage girl is hard enough, but for DeDe, it is proving impossible. In addition to cliques, books, and boys, she has to worry about capes, apes, and aliens. When we last left DeDe, she had just adopted the mantle of Sky Girl at the end of her sophomore year of high school. This book opens the day before she starts her junior year, so she’s had the whole summer to practice and train with her best friend and self-professed comic geek, Jason. She’s actually gotten quite good at being a costumed adventurer—except for her banter, which still needs work. 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.
Unlike the first book, which took place over the course of a week, this book covers the whole school year and allows for more diverse adventures. For example, Sky Girl faces off against Shadow, Jason faces off against Quizmaster, and they both have to face an angry horde of zombies. Each adventure stands on its own but is also part of a larger plot and expands on the mystery of what happened to DeDe’s father and Evil Brain’s plot for world domination.
I guess the most important thing to note is that you don’t really need to read the first book to enjoy the second.
Q: Can you tell us a little about your main and supporting characters?
A: I love the relationship between the two main characters, DeDe and Jason, and enjoy writing scenes between them. DeDe is emotional and free spirited and Jason is analytical and restrained. I had a similar relationship growing up. And much like I was, DeDe is very different when she is with her best friend than when she is out in public because, with Jason, she actually gets to be her true self. (Of course, her Sky Girl persona helps DeDe overcome some of her shyness.) But, in order for the characters to grow as individuals, in the second book I split them up for some of their adventures. I’m a huge Star Wars fan and love the chemistry between R2D2 and C3PO in the first movie. Despite this, or maybe because of it, George Lucas decided to separate them in the second film and the results were pure genius movie making. I used that as an example in the second book and decided that Jason and DeDe should have their own adventures to realize how important they are to each other and to prove that each can be independent from each other. I always call Jason the sidekick, but they are really partners and I hope Sky Girl and the Superheroic Adventures helps establish that. I also wanted to ratchet up the tension in the second book, so I moved DeDe’s rival, Nicole, a little closer to DeDe’s inner circle.
Q: Do you tend to base your characters on real people or are they totally from your imagination?
A: It’s interesting how many people I went to school with say to me that they have figured out that, “Nicole is so and so, or Jason is based on so and so.” Popular theories are that DeDe is based on an ex-girlfriend from high school and that Jason is based on me. Actually, I wish I could have been Jason. I was never comfortable flying my geek flag until I was much older. In that way, I relate much more to DeDe/Sky Girl. She’s trying really hard to be the cool kid on the outside, but really she’s almost as much of a geek as Jason on the inside. Instead, I base a lot of these characters’ traits on my nieces and nephews. Jason is actually an amalgam of several people I know in the comics industry. A lot of people, editors and reviewers mostly, have a real problem with the formal way Jason talks, especially the fact that he never uses contractions. They think it sounds stilted – but that is the point. There really are people that talk like him in the real world. I can think of four off the top of my head. There is a lot of Adam that comes from one of my best friends/neighbors growing up. And, although I generally like everyone, Nicole is based on some people (men and women) who sadly have gotten under my skin. Of course, because she’s so evil, this also makes her the most fun to write. And, much to DeDe’s and my dismay, I frequently give Nicole the best lines.
A lot of people ask for me to put them in my books. I think those people will be quite happy with Sky Girl and the Superheroic Adventures as I have managed to hide many Easter eggs in each adventure.
Q: Are you consciously aware of the plot before you begin a novel, or do you discover it as you write?
A: I usually have a general road map of where I want to go and an ending in mind. In the case of Sky Girl, I mapped out the entire trilogy. I knew exactly where I wanted to end, and how I was going to get there. Of course, when I started writing, I realized that my characters were taking me in a different direction than my road map and the ending of the third book. So, I had to go back and rework a lot of the earlier parts so they were consistent. Additionally, some things just didn’t work as well as I thought they would. For example, in the first draft, DeDe’s mother was remarried and DeDe had a little brother who was instrumental to the resolution of the plot. However, as I was writing, I realized that the brother wasn’t adding anything to the story. In fact, having DeDe’s mother being happily remarried prevented me from exploring how DeDe would react when her mother gets a new serious boyfriend. DeDe views this new guy as trying to replace her late father and must come to terms with that. So the brother vanished, which required a lot of restructuring.
Q: Your book is set in New Jersey. Can you tell us why you chose this city in particular?
A: The first book was set in my home town of Colonia, New Jersey. And while Colonia still continues to be the primary setting in Sky Girl and the Superheroic Adventures, I also was able to explore more locations. However, given that this book is a series of interrelated adventures, as opposed to an origin story, I was able to include a lot more locations outside of Colonia. A number of locations in New Jersey are featured in the book, including an attempted robbery of the First Bank of Colonia; a secret portal located at The Edison Memorial Tower and Museum in Menlo Park; and a hunt for the Jersey Devil in Jenny Jump State Park. I should also mention that there are cameos and references to many of the unique NJ places from my youth, like Merrill and Roosevelt Parks, the Menlo Park Mall, and the Krauzers convenience store where I used to buy my comics, as well as some imagined places, like the Colonia Memorial Cemetery.
Q: Does the setting play a major part in the development of your story?
A: I’m from New Jersey. My family still lives there and I visit the state as often as I can. New Jersey, and especially Colonia, is the perfect setting for this book. The fact that it isn’t New York (but close to it) makes it perfectly plausible that super villains would want to hide out there. It also allows Sky Girl to have a small town upbringing, while still being able to face big city challenges. New Jersey was Hollywood before there was a Hollywood and Las Vegas before there was a Las Vegas, and still has the best pizza in the world. The fact that two-thirds of the state is wide open space allows the potential for knock down drag out fights with no property damage or injuries in later volumes. Not to mention that New Jersey has its own cryptozoological creature, the Jersey Devil, which was a great character to play with in the Sky Girl story.
Q: Open the book to page 69. What is happening?
A: Good choice. This was an interesting page to write. Sky Girl has just arrived in the Mutardi Dimension in inner space. True to character, DeDe just rushed into the dimension without thinking. But, she isn’t really ready for what happens when she gets there. It was a challenge to write because I wanted to create a sense of peril while still being fun.
Q: Can you give us one of your best excerpts?
A: I don’t know if it’s my best excerpt, but my favorite villain to write was Alexander–he is a security guard that finds some of Professor Z’s equipment and decides to become a supervillain. He is horrible at it and it really lets me poke fun at the comic genre that I love. For example, in this short scene, Alexander tries to rob a bank, but is delayed by Jason, who engages him in a debate as to what makes a great villain.
Jason turned toward the tunnel, watching with a mixture of fear and excitement as the figure emerged from it. DeDe had run up against several villains in her short career as Sky Girl, but this guy was the big one: Professor Z. He was the cream of the crop, the greatest at being the worst. After all, Professor Z was the villain that had beaten SkyBoy. Jason squinted as the villain stepped into the bank from the tunnel.
An overweight, masked teenager dressed in black spandex and a black cape exited the Z-Gate. The ill-fitting spandex failed to fully cover his mid-section, and his stained white undershirt poked through. The tunnel vanished as quickly as it had formed, causing the villain to trip over his cape and sprawl out on the bank floor. As the villain regained his footing and tried to stand, Jason noticed that the fiend’s cowl-like mask had shifted and sat askew, so that one eyehole was blocked.
“Aw, man!” exclaimed the villain.
Jason cleared his throat, and the teenager in spandex turned to look at him. He smiled as his eyes met the villain’s uncovered one. ”Um, hi. Are you a super villain?”
“Hi. And why, yes, I am,” he said as he readjusted his mask.
“You know, they never mention in the movies how hard it is to keep the mask on.”
Jason nodded knowingly as he remembered DeDe’s many complaints over the summer during their mask trials. “I know what you mean. You know, a little spirit gum will hold that thing right in place.”
“Really? Spirit gum? Like the circus guys use? I hadn’t thought of that. Thanks.” The man smiled and then looked over at the wall.
“Well, okay then. Nice meeting you. I have, you know, villainous work to do.” He moved toward the vault.
Jason threw up his hands. “Wait!”
Jason stared at the overweight spandex-clad teen. “Um, you cannot just rob the bank.”
The villain stared at him. “I cannot? I mean, I can’t?”
Jason rolled his eyes. “Duh. First you have to announce your fiendish intentions and tell everyone your name.” Jason looked around the bank. Only the old woman remained.
The villain appeared to think for a moment. “Well, okay then. I guess there is some merit to that.” The villain took a deep breath and attempted to sound menacing as he spoke. “I’m Alex, and I’m here to rob this bank.”
Jason stared at him with an annoyed look.
“What’s wrong with Alex?”
Jason glanced at his watch and hoped the police would be there soon. “It is a little plain. You want a name that invokes fear, like Professor Z, or Evil Brain, or Commander Chimp.”
Alex pursed his lips in thought. “I know—my mother always wanted me to be a doctor. So call me Doctor Doom!”
Jason shook his head from side to side. “That name is taken by a Marvel Comics villain. Trust me, you do not want them coming after you for infringement. They are owned by Disney now.”
“What about Doctor Destiny?”
“Nope. DC Comics.”
“Joss Whedon used that one. Neil Patrick Harris played him.”
“You mean that Doogie Howser kid?”
“I loved that show. How about Doctor Strange?”
“Oh, come on. You are not even trying now.”
The duo’s debate was cut short by the sound of sirens. Alex peered out the bank window. “Aw man, now the police are here. I didn’t even get to rob the bank.”
Jason smiled. “You had better go. You do not want to face them without a name.”
Alex, the nameless villain, pressed a button on his gauntlet and the tunnel reappeared. “Yeah, I don’t really have any weapons either.”
Jason chuckled. “Going back to your evil villain’s layer?”
Alex looked confused. “You mean my evil villain’s lair.” He stressed the last word. Jason pointed into the tunnel, and Alex read his spray-painted sign. “Darn it! You know, I thought I might have spelled that wrong.” Alex raced down the tunnel as the police broke into the bank. Jason watched as the glowing lights of the Z-Gate shrank away and vanished.
Jason threw up his hands as the police approached him. He could hear the security guard began to groan his way back to consciousness. “He is gone now. I do not think he took anything.” “Did he say who he was?” one of the officers asked.
Jason smiled. “Not really.”
Q: Thank you so much for this interview, Joe. We wish you much success!
A: Thanks for having me. If you want to find out more, 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 column can be found at www.cbldf.org.
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.
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 Paperback Writer
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
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
Monday, October 28th
Guest post at Authors and Appetizers
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
More tour stops coming soon!