Typhoon, Velveteen, Astra, and The Mighty Halo. Not quite the finished cover-art, but close…
So I’m two months late. I’ve learned two things this year; 1.) I don’t multi-task at all well, and 2.) writing short stories is as hard as writing novels. Well you live and you learn, especially when you have no choice but to scale that learning curve, and Team Ups and Crossovers is now in the finishing stages of editing and I can talk about it.
Team Ups and Crossovers started with simply remembering how much I enjoyed the Marvel/DC crossovers. You know: Spider Man vs. Superman, the Justice League vs. The Avengers, etc. The comic writers had tremendous fun with them, and certainly a lot of readers did as well. Crossovers have actually become quite the fiction-trope, fueled by the internet’s powers to spread fanfiction far and wide (some of it as good as or better than the source material). Fanfiction.net is a guilty pleasure of mine, where you can find just about every kind of crossover you can imagine. For example, Buffy the Vampire Slayer/Supernatural, Castle/Firefly, Naruto/The Avengers, or Harry Potter/Buffy/Avengers/Firefly.
Of course most of these crossovers are less than serious!
I don’t read as much as I’d like to (I could read every hour of the day, but it cuts into writing), but I am currently enjoying several superhero series and it occurred to me to approach a couple of authors to see about co-writing a collection of crossover stories, the idea being that something happens to catapult Astra into a cross-worlds journey through several superhero universes. I was very fortunate; both of the authors whose universes I was most interested in being allowed to play in answered back affirmatively.
I’ve reviewed her stuff here before, but I’ll say it again; Seanan’s Velveteen Vs. stories, taken together, give us one of the most imaginative superhero universes out there today. Velveteen, Jackie Frost, The Princess, Polychrome, Action Guy, Victory Anna, and many more are all original, delightful, fully realized characters inhabiting mostly stock superhero-types. The action in her stories spans the gamut, from foiling mundane crime to cosmic adventure, and while she peppers Velveteen’s world with a lot of joke-villains (good jokes!), her serious, plot-driving bad guys are serious, scary, and real. Real people under the powers, with believable motivations. Seanan is very, very good at portraying convincing evil.
Unfortunately for me, Seanan writes hard. I don’t think a year passes without her turning out at least three titles. On top of that she does the convention circuit, so she really didn’t have time to write or co-write a crossover story. Fortunately, when I reached out to her she admitted that while she hadn’t read my stuff she’d heard good things; she kindly gave me permission to write an Astra/Velveteen crossover, and approved the two linked tales I came up with for adventures in the world of Super Patriots Inc. I hope I got Velveteen right.
I don’t know who introduced me to Grrl Power. I think it was one of my readers. There are a lot of online comics out there today, but Grrl Power is in the top 10%. I rank it up there just below Girl Genius and Schlock Mercenary. Dave is both the writer and artist of Grrl Power, and while his art has improved since the first pages, his humor has always been first-rate. I encountered the series when it was already two years in, and reading Sydney/Halo’s first “adventure” (of course it was a bank-robbery) I laughed so hysterically I couldn’t keep reading. So of course I had to ask Dave about an Astra/Halo crossover.
Dave has been writing/drawing his webcomic full-time for two years now, but he said heck yeah and together we were able to co-write a hilariously fun story. Naturally Astra plays the straight man to Halo’s insanity. I don’t know about Dave, but I had so much fun with it that the door is always open to a sequel.
Funny story. I don’t respond to most reader reviews, but some I do. Some reviewers ask questions. Others make suggestions. When a reviewer addresses me in any way I take that as permission to respond as I would to fan-mail. I met KF on Goodreads, where she critically gushed over all of the then-published books in the series and proceeded to ship Hope hard with another major character. (For those not familiar with the terminology, ship is short for relationship; fans of well-loved characters will often ship them with other characters with whom they think they should be romantically involved). KF shipped so entertainingly that I had to ask her where she was getting it from; I expected some throwaway comment back, but KF is a lawyer and she laid out the subtext she read into certain scenes in the first few books and argued a case so convincing I can’t unsee it now. Not that things progressed that way of course, but that was the beginning of a long and enriching correspondence relationship.
KF wrote the last short story in Team Ups and Crossovers, in which Hope meets a very different CAI team after returning home from her cross-world adventures. My sole contribution was style-editing (after grad school law she writes too correctly). Her dialogue is dead-on and hilarious, she nailed Astra near-perfectly, and the new capes she introduces, beginning with Typhoon, are wonderful. I predict that many readers may find hers the most entertaining story in the book.
As has become the practice, Team Ups and Crossovers will be released in Amazon Kindle format first, on November 1st. It will be followed within a few weeks by the print-on-demand edition. Again, I apologize for the lateness of the book, and hope everyone enjoys reading it as much as we enjoyed writing it!