Tag Archives: superheroes

Author Interview: Tim Callahan

Author Tim Callahan is a writer of Space Opera and Superhero fiction with a bit of Science Fiction horror mixed in.  He is a member of the Dragon’s Rocketship Facebook Group.  

Author Tim CallahanHello, My name is Tim Callahan. I work in the IT department of Philadelphia Law firm. I’ve lived, and worked, in Philly most of my life and it’s a place I love. I’m married with two dogs, A pitbull-terrier named Jeffery (Named after a robot in a commercial I liked at the time we got him) and Cocker Spalie/ Black Lab mix named Kenseth. (Named after a race car driver.) Besides writing I enjoy reading, Football, Baseball, and vacationing with my wife.

When and why did you begin writing?

Started writing when I was a kid, probably around 11 or so. I always had way more imagination than smarts and would constantly act out in school, thinking that I saw a ghost or that aliens were going to come and take me away. I also loved to read. Mostly comic books but I eventually moved on to novels. There wasn’t a day where I didn’t have a book in my hand or I wasn’t tucked into a corner of the house reading something. It was during the idle times that the voices, who I later discovered were characters, would just tell me stories about themselves and what they were doing. Eventually, I realized the only way to shut them up was to write down what they were telling me. Didn’t take me long to realize how the act of writing not only shut them up, but it was also a lot of fun.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?

When I finished my first book, at the age of 13 (It wasn’t a very good or long book.) Even though I didn’t know it at the time, it showed that I could start and finish a story I had written. That’s probably the hardest part for beginning writers, finishing, and it’s something I knew I could do at an early age.

Can you share a little about your current book with us?

It’ll be the fifth book in my Evolutionite Chronicles books. Set in the city of Haven, which has the largest population of Evo’s, those born with special powers, it’s going to be about a powerful man with god-like powers returning after everything thought he was dead. A small group of Evo’s get together to try and stop him from destroying the world.

What inspired you to write this book?

My love of comic books and comic book stories. I can’t draw so writing is the best way to get those stories out there.

Do you have a specific writing style?

A lot of writers influenced my style but I really try to emulate the greats like Arthur C Clark, Robert Heinlein along with some of my new favorites, like Tim Pratt, Jim Butcher, and John Scalizi.

Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?

Don’t jump to judgment until you have all the information.

Are experiences in this book based on someone you
know or events in your own life?

All my books contain something I’ve experienced, either a feeling, a person, a conversation, or an actual event. In fact, this book will have a scene where a teacher punishes a child for flushing a grapefruit down a toilet in school. (I’m the kid being yelled at because I did that in first grade and flooded the bathroom)

Do you have any advice for other writers?

Probably nothing they haven’t heard before. Write every day. Write what you’d love to read. Don’t worry about what people think. Don’t even worry about what you think while writing. Trust your instinct. Sometimes your writing brain is ahead of your thinking brain and understands the story better than you do.

Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?

Keep doing what you love. It might not be writing, it might be drawing, it might be computers, it might be working on cars. I’m lucky in that I get to work on computers all day, something I’ve loved as much as writing, and I get to write when I’m at home. Long as you do what you love and you’ll always find happiness, even in dark times.

Dagger and Shadow Ninja HQ- resizeTimothy P. Callahan
Philadelphia, PA

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So, you want to write a superhero story? by Samantha Bryant

periodicheroes

Superhero is a small, but thriving niche genre under the speculative fiction umbrella. It includes stories with characters and worlds you might already know and love as well as brand new inventions. In some of these stories, superheroes are a brand new thing that no one has ever seen before; in others, they are a known entity and work together in quasi-military groups. Anything is possible.

There have been some great superhero novels and short stories published in the past decade or so, and more great stories are popping up all the time. (Here’s a post I did for DIY MFA featuring five of my favorites). Thanks to the popularity of superhero movies and TV shows, it looks promising for continued growth for a while yet. The potential is endless. There’s room for lots of great storytelling here in the superhero tent, so I’m happy you’re thinking of joining our particular circus.

I love writing superhero fiction. There’s something about the combination of the impossible with the heartfelt that speaks to me. Arguably, a lot of stories in many genres are, at their heart, about the nature of heroism, about stepping up to do what’s got to be done and what kind of person is willing to do that. Great conflicts in all kinds of stories come from moments that force characters to challenge themselves and test their limits. Superhero fiction just does it more directly and on a bigger canvas. The stakes are higher when the characters are just this side of immortal. Plus, it’s just plain fun.

So, whether you’re trying to create a short story or a novel, here are a few tips to keep in mind:

    1. It’s actually the human and not the superhuman element that matters. If your character is only a collection of powers, we’ve got nothing to connect with and no one to root for. Readers want to connect with the characters emotionally, not just observe their physical amazingness. That means giving them a full range of emotions and an interior life, people they care about, obstacles and goals.

      That said, the powers are important. Make them cool and interesting, but not so complex that we can’t quickly grasp what your character can do. Readers of this genre are expecting characters who can do amazing and unusual things, but they don’t want to have to take a crash-course in physics before they can understand what’s happening.

 

    1. Complete originality is not necessary. There’s a repertoire of superhero powers that fans are used to seeing, and it’s more than okay to pull from them–it’s expected. When I was creating the women in Going Through the Change, I didn’t invent new, never-before-heard-of powers. What I did do, though, was give each woman her own individual context and set of difficulties with those powers. So, Helen Braeburn is hardly the first character to be able to wield fire, but how exactly it works for her and what she chooses to do with her power? That’s the original part.

 

    1. In the best stories, internal and external conflicts intertwine. Peter Parker wouldn’t be the same Spiderman if he didn’t have a strong work ethic and overdeveloped sense of responsibility thanks to his Uncle Ben and Aunt May. For readers to connect to your characters, we have to feel we have something in common with them. So, while I can’t climb walls like Spiderman, I have had a hopeless crush on someone, been picked on for being smart, and felt guilty when I didn’t do everything I could have.

 

    1. It’s all about the heart. In superhero stories, there’s bound to be some fighting. You can read my post about writing violence well here. Writing good fight scenes isn’t just about the logistics of the amazing feats of strength and wonder, though. Your reader has to have a pony in this race. They have to care about who’s going to win and worry about what will happen if the hero fails. No matter how cool the fight itself is, you’ll lose your audience if you don’t give us a side to be on.

 

  1. Superhero stories are an escape, and, at the same time, a journey into the truths at the core of human existence. It’s a playground for using and twisting tropes, where naïve underdogs and world-weary curmudgeons partner up and save the world from aliens and mad scientists. It’s an exciting genre. Come, play with us!

Author Samantha Bryant. (Photographer: Miryam Bryant.)Samantha Bryant believes in love, magic, and unexplainable connections between people. Her favorite things are lonely beaches, untamed cliff tops, sunlight through the leaves of trees, summer rains, and children’s laughter. She has lived in many places, including rural Alaska, Kansas, Kentucky, Vermont, England and Spain. She is fierce at heart though she doesn’t look it.

She’s a fan of Charlotte Brontë, William Shakespeare, Emily Dickinson, Neil Gaiman, Nicole Perlman, and Joss Whedon, among many others. She would like to be Amy Tan when she grows up, but so far it doesn’t look like she’ll be growing up any time soon.

Samantha writes blogs, poems, essays, and novels. Her debut novel, Going Through the Change: A Menopausal Superhero Novel, came out in April 2015. Mostly she writes about things that scare or worry her. It’s cheaper than therapy. Someday, she hopes to make her living solely as a writer. In the meantime, she also teaches middle school Spanish, which, admittedly, is an odd choice for money-earning, especially in North Carolina.

When she’s not writing or teaching, Samantha enjoys time with her family, watching old movies, baking, reading, and going places. Her favorite gift is tickets (to just about anything). You can find her online on her blog, Twitter, on Facebook, on Amazon, on Goodreads, on the Curiosity Quills page, or on Google+.

Going Through the Change: A Menopausal Superhero Novel is free on Kindle for two days: August 5th and August 6th. You can check it out at: http://bitly.com/face-the-change

Going Through The Change.  Book Cover Artist: Polina Sapershteyn