Wearing the Cape Q & A

Blackstone-smallThree guesses who this is, once again the latest character piece from the amazing Jamal Campbell. Just as a side-note, you have to love Jamal’s name; could it possibly be more American (Canadian)? Jamal means “handsome” in the original Arabic, and there is no more Scottish name than Campbell–look up the famous history of Clan Campbell sometime. Jamal, did you know you are entitled to wear the Campbell tartan?

So, on to the purpose of today’s post: News.

Small Town Heroes is going well if slower than I’d like (I have actually taken the step of ordering a Microsoft Surface Tablet so I can take it to the library every day in an attempt to cut out distractions and Get It Done). It is turning out to be the hardest storyline I’ve attempted yet, and I hope my readers will like the result enough to forgive the delays.

Wearing the Cape: the Roleplaying Game is still on track, so everyone interested in taking part in the second round of playtesting keep their eyes here; I estimate 30 days between Small Town Heroes’ publication date and the launch of Round 2.

In the meantime, I thought it might be a good idea to use this post as a Q & A; there is, of course, no such thing as stupid questions…no, there really is. But I promise not to mock anybody. More seriously, if anybody has any questions about the books, the game, favorite characters, etc., post them here. I’ll even provide background details not in the books yet so long as they aren’t spoilers. I will move all questions into the body of the post with my answers.

-M.G.Harmon

Questions/Answers (Thank you, everybody.)

Q1, will there be more of our Oz princess?

A1, yes.

Q2, Will you run the rpg on kickstarter? (I’d love to get it and all your paper books as a reward tier)

A2, I’m seriously considering it; it’s the only way to produce a good hard-backed rulebook. Otherwise, it will be available as a PDF (probably $19.99) and paperback rulebook (probably $45-$50).

Q3, Will there be any other major Female leads coming in to the story? (My sister wants to know, a big Wonder Woman fan)

A3, between Astra, Artemis, Shell/Shelly, and Ozma, I think the ladies are well-represented. Of course more characters of both sexes are introduced all the time.

Q4, Are the books (I’m assuming a long run of novels here, fingers crossed) ever going to delve into the nature and cause of the Event, or is that more a background/flavor thing in your view?

A4, No. The main reason is simply this; with the cause of the Event unknown, the people of the Post-Event world are free to assign it significance according to their worldview. Many people believe different things about the Event, and it motivates their actions. The reader is also free to assign his own significance to the Event.

Q5, How is it you write books that make grown men cry?

A5, It’s a gift. More seriously, I just create characters the reader can empathize with and want the best for, then put them through hell for every victory. Simple? Yes. Easy? No. True story: When I wrote Wearing the Cape, I felt so bad for Hope after Atlas’ death in the Whittier Base Attack that I gave her Shelly just so that she would have something good happen to her. In the first finished draft of WtC, Shelly had been nothing more than a part of Hope’s tragic back-story; I never intended her to reappear as the the cool quantum-ghost AI she turned into.

Q6, You had mentioned that things are going slower in Small Town Heroes. Is it something to do with the storyline itself?

It is more that the world-effects of this story are bigger, and it involves more of the wider world than the previous stories. It’s actual location has also shifted once.

Q7, You also mentioned something about that it was your most difficult storyline to date. Do you feel you have too little or too much going for the character(s)?

A7, See above.

Q8, Why are some powers listed by the name of the individual to exhibit them (i.e. Atlas-type) and others just under a category (speedster)?

A8, Powers listed by name are named after prominent early superheroes, like Atlas. Some superhuman powers didn’t get uniquely associated with a specific superhero early on, however. In the case of speedsters there was more than one from the beginning, so the power-type was simply labeled “speedster-type.”

Q9, Are you planning to reveal all of the categories as well as examples for A-class, B-class (etc) of said categories at some point?

A9, I’m never going to make a comprehensive list of the different power-types, if that is what you are asking; for one thing, the possibilities are endless. However I may create a glossary of terms, including power types that have appeared in the books.

Q10, I noticed Megaton was not in the two released chapters. Will he be making a return appearance in Small Town Heroes?

A10, Yes. However, I have dropped back to using a single POV, which is Hope’s. And Hope spends most of the book away from Chicago… This means that the others will have less “screen-time” in this book.

Q11, Love the books Mr.Harmon, any idea how many there will be?

A11, Thank you. No idea, but expressed algebraically I would say 7+X=?. Some of them may be side-stories like Bite Me (possibly even a Bite Me sequel).

Q12, Has the Astra/Seven relationship been resolved (nothing more than friends, forget the damn kiss in Omega) or is that something that will be fleshed out further?

A12, I have to say that I do like Seven for Astra; his easygoing attitude makes a nice balance for her tendency to get too serious. However, Astra is only 19 (almost 20) after all, with a lot of growing left to do; for her, being “just friends” with a guy she is very much attracted to is progress. Is Seven still a prospect? Yes. So is Megaton and Grendel, and Astra might always meet someone else; I have never set her character development in stone, and until I see who she becomes I won’t know who she should be with.

Q13, Are any more short stories from this world forthcoming?

A 13, Maybe...

Q14, Ever come up with a great new character only to realize that you basically recreated some Marvel/DC character?

A 14, No. But I probably have without realizing it.

Q15, Are there any non-powered, unlicensed humans that try to act as superheroes – masked vigilantes, basically?

A15, Yes. You meet one (briefly) in Villains Inc.

Q16, You got some favorite superhero comics?

A16, I enjoy superhero comics that put a spin on the genre. Noble Causes. Astro City. Wildguard. Invincible Universe.

Q17, Will you ever revisit the flesh-and-blood Shelly? It has to be traumatic to have these great super powers only to have them disappear in an instant.

A17, Yes you will be seeing Shelly again, and yes, she does have some issues.

Q18, Will we find out what happened to the wreckers and co?

A18, Yes, although not right away.

Q19, I don’t think we saw any characters with religious beliefs directly informed by the Event? Am I forgetting/overlooking characters? It seems like interesting territory to explore beliefs that only make sense in a post-Event world.

A19, The Foundation of Awakened Theosophy in Young Sentinels is a post-Event cult inspired by the existence of breakthroughs.

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About George

I am a reasonably successful self-published author ("successful" means I can pay the bills and am highly rated in my Amazon category), former financial advisor (writing is more fun), and have something in common with Mitt Romney and Donny Osmond. Guess.
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46 Responses to Wearing the Cape Q & A

  1. Damien Swallow says:

    Q1, will there be more of our oz princess?
    Q2, Will you run the rpg on kickstarter? (I’d love to get it and all your paper books as a reward tier)
    Q3, Will there be any other major Female leads coming in to the story? (My sister wants to know, a big Wonder Woman fan)

    • George says:

      A1, yes.
      A2, I’m seriously considering it; it’s the only way to produce a good hard-backed rulebook. Otherwise, it will be available as a PDF (probably $19.99) and paperback rulebook (probably $45-$50).
      A3, between Astra, Artemis, Shell/Shelly, and Ozma, I think the ladies are well-represented. Of course more characters of both sexes are introduced all the time.

  2. Brian says:

    I don’t have anything profound to say, or any particuarly insighful questions, just wanted to say thanks for the update. Glad to hear things are still moving along. Can’t wait to read the next book. Good Luck.

  3. Stanoje says:

    Are the books (I’m assuming a long run of novels here, fingers crossed) ever going to delve into the nature and cause of the Event, or is that more a background/flavor thing in your view?

    How is it you write books that make grown men cry?

    • George says:

      Am I ever going to reveal the cause of the Event? No. The main reason is simply this; with the cause of the Event unknown, the people of the Post-Event world are free to assign it significance according to their worldview. Many people believe different things about the Event, and it motivates their actions. The reader is also free to assign his own significance to the Event.

      It’s a gift. More seriously, it’s simple: just create characters the reader can empathize and want the best for, then put them through hell for every victory. Simple? Yes. Easy? No. True story: When I wrote Wearing the Cape, I felt so bad for Hope after Atlas’ death in the Whittier Base Attack that I gave her Shelly so that she would have something good happen to her. In the first finished draft of WtC, Shelly had been nothing more than a part of Hope’s tragic back-story; I never intended her to reappear as the the cool quantum-ghost AI she turned into.

  4. Louis Launer says:

    I certainly appreciate the update. You had mentioned that things are going slower in Small Town Heroes. Is it something to do with the storyline itself? I know that you have started your story in southern Illinois and I am familiar with the region (since I live in St. Louis). You also mentioned something about that it was your most difficult storyline to date. Do you feel you have too little or too much going for the character(s). I have been reading Villians Inc. right now and I am enjoying that story.

  5. Ramsay says:

    Why are some powers listed by the name of the individual to exhibit them (i.e. Atlas-type) and others just under a category (speedster)?

    Are you planning to reveal all of the categories as well as examples for A-class, B-class (etc) of said categories at some point?

    I wish you well at plotting your next novel.

    • George says:

      Powers listed by name are named after prominent early superheroes, like Atlas. Some superhuman powers didn’t get uniquely associated with a specific superhero early on, however. In the case of speedsters there was more than one from the beginning, so the power-type was simply labeled “speedster-type.”

      I’m never going to make a comprehensive list of the different power-types, if that is what you are asking; for one thing, the possibilities are endless.

  6. stephen caperton says:

    I noticed megaton was not in the two released chapters. Will he be making a return appearance in Small Town Heroes? By the way I have thoroughly enjoyed your series and am looking forward to the next novel.

    • George says:

      Yes. However, I have dropped back to using a single POV, which is Hopes. And Hope spends most of the book away from Chicago… This means that the others will have less “screen-time” in this book.

  7. caleb eden says:

    Love the books mr.harmon, any idea how many there will be?

    • George says:

      Thank you. No idea, but expressed algebraically I would say 7+X=?. Some of them may be side-stories like Bite Me (possibly even a Bite Me sequel).

  8. Talia says:

    Has the Astra/Seven relationship been resolved (nothing more than friends, forget the damn kiss in Omega) or is that something that will be fleshed out further?

    • George says:

      I have to say that I do like Seven for Astra; his easygoing attitude makes a nice balance for her tendency to get too serious. However, Astra is only 19 (almost 20) after all, with a lot of growing left to do; for her, being “just friends” with a guy she is very much attracted to is progress. Is Seven still a prospect? Yes. So is Megaton and Grendel, and Astra might always meet someone else; I have never set her character development in stone, and until I see who she becomes I won’t know who she should be with.

  9. Karl Weiss says:

    Thanks for the update.

  10. stanoje says:

    Are any more short stories from this world forthcoming?
    Ever come up with a great new character only to realize that you basically recreated some Marvel/DC character?
    Are there any non-powered, unlicensed humans that try to act as superheroes – masked vigilantes, basically?
    You got some favorite superhero comics?

    • George says:

      Maybe.
      No. But I probably have without realizing it.
      Yes. You meet one (briefly) in Villains Inc.
      I enjoy superhero comics that put a spin on the genre. Noble Causes. Astro City. Wildguard. Invincible Universe.

      • Louis Launer says:

        I am halfway through VILLANS, INC and I am enjoying every page of it. I will say that you have really done well in shaping the character Astra/Hope Corrigan. Looking forward to reading more. Hope you can get back on Book #5.

  11. Roy says:

    Will you ever revisit the flesh-and-blood Shelly? It has to be traumatic to have these great super powers only to have them disappear in an instant. And she knows all the secrets of Astra/Hope and the Tea Time Anarchist. But, instead of making a difference, she’s back at home living a normal life and once again waiting for her breakthrough. What would someone do in that situation? Depression? Anger? Revenge? Arch-nemesis? 😀

    • George says:

      Yes. And Shelly does have some issues.

      • Louis Launer says:

        I admit that I haven’t read all of the Wearing the Cape books yet, but I can understand Shelly’s situation. I like how you have developed her as a character. There is one thing and I hope you are considering this if you haven’t done so already. Again I admit that I haven’t read all of the books in the series (still on Villains, Inc. and enjoying it!), but I wonder if you will ever have a story that will involve any of the members of “the Bees” in a situation? Would you want to put “The Bees” in a situation?

      • George says:

        I am very careful about involving the Bees directly in the superhero side of Hope’s life. The main reason is I want to avoid Lois Lane Syndrome; putting a character close to the main character in peril repeatedly to create drama only works when the imperiled character has good reasons for getting into those situations, and even then it gets old. To me the Bees represent the “normal” side of Hope’s life, as well as the cost in strained personal relationships she pays to be a superhero.

  12. Lannithora says:

    Will we find out what happened to the wreckers and co?

  13. stanoje says:

    Watching The Leftovers on HBO has me wondering – how are the world’s religions, both major and minor, doing post-Event? What we see of Hope’s take on Christianity doesn’t seem all that affected by the Event, if I recall correctly.

    I don’t think we saw any characters with religious beliefs directly informed by the Event? Am I forgetting/overlooking characters? It seems like interesting territory to explore beliefs that only make sense in a post-Event world.

    • George says:

      I have made comments (usually in chapter headers) about the religious reaction to the Event, but to give the Word Of God ( http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/WordOfGod ) ruling on the subject, the core beliefs of the major religions haven’t been significantly impacted by the Event. That said, I’m sure there are lots of minor new sects that are radical religious reinterpretations integrating the Event and breakthroughs into their belief system (breakthroughs as visible evidence of Grace–or damnation–for example).

      As to new post-Event beliefs, the Foundation of Awakened Theosophy in Young Sentinels is a concrete example of a group of followers forming around a new “religious” paradigm.

      • Cricket says:

        Correct me if im wrong but wasn’t the guy who killed Atlas religious?

      • George says:

        He was, but Stanoje’s question was more about how the Event may have changed world religions. Religious zealots of any brand need no encouragement, although they may have taken the Event and the advent of superhumans as apocryphal signs confirming their world-views.

  14. Mike says:

    Will we be seeing any more art work from Viktoria Gavrilenko? Her work is incredible.

    • George says:

      I’m afraid not; she’s gone professional, which is wonderful, but means she has little time now for commissioned projects. So, great news and bad news.

      • Louis Launer says:

        I enjoyed Vicktoria’s illustrations. She did a fine job. I wish I could find that kind of illustrator for the novel I’m working on. BTW, still enjoying Villains Inc.

  15. Konrad says:

    Is the ” Stay tuned for news on the upcoming Heroic Roleplaying RPG.” teaser on the Margaret Weiss website a reference to the Wearing the Cape RPG?

    • George says:

      No. They haven’t released any information about it, but I’m presuming it is an expansion of the Cortex Plus Heroic system they introduced in Marvel Heroic Roleplaying and Cortex Plus Hack.

  16. Louis Launer says:

    Have you ever thought of doing a story/novel with Hope/Astra alone, maybe in some remote place, away from her team and her friends and parents (maybe in another part of the U.S. or North America) where she has only herself (and Shelly) as her only resource?

  17. Konrad says:

    This isn’t a question, but seeing as you mentioned maybe doing a Bite Me Sequel, I’d love to read it, Jacky’s rather unique nature at the end of Villains Inc, should make things interesting.

  18. stanoje says:

    Do you have a plan for the zombie apocalypse?

  19. Max says:

    I have a ton of questions (hope you like lists! 😀 ), but for now I’ll limit myself to one. What does Grendel look like? From the book I kind of got the impression that he looks like Grom Hellscream, except with dreads and grey skin instead of green:

  20. Konrad says:

    I’m curious why you decided to substantially weaken Jacky’s powers from Bite me onward. In Wearing the Cape, she has no problems staying up during the day, and uses mist form while doing search and rescue. In Bite me she can hardly keep her eyes open after sunrise, and can no longer mist during the day.

    • George says:

      The rule for Jacky is that as a vampire, blood makes her strong; the more she drinks, the less sleep she needs, for example, and the stronger her mental abilities are. As to her daytime limitations, she can go to mist just fine during the day, but only so long as it is not in direct sunlight.

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