Giveaways, Hayden Thorne

Guest Post, Excerpt, and Giveaway: The Porcelain Carnival by Hayden Thorne

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Join us in welcoming author Hayden Thorne today, as she shares a bit about her newest book The Porcelain Carnival, the seventh and final book in the Masks series. Enjoy the excerpt Hayden’s brought along to share with you, and then be sure to click on the Rafflecopter widget below to enter for the chance to win One of Two e-copies of the book.

Good luck!

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AUTHOR’S NOTE: As with the sequels to the main trilogy, this installment is episodic in nature, but it does play a significant role in conveying something about Eric’s adventures. I mentioned a long time ago (over at my blog) that when I end the series, I’ll do so without a firm closure because, given the nature of the superheroes and the supervillains, the insanity continues well beyond the seven books. There’s closure, yes, but not in the sense of the genetically modified characters finding a cure or a fix – because there isn’t.

Deena’s role is also significant on a number of levels, and her story supplements Eric’s in that sense. The same can be said about the missing kids as well as the Shadow Puppet (and, consequently, other supervillains).

At any rate, there you have it. This is Eric’s swan song, and I bid my fictional therapy (he is very therapeutic to write) a fond farewell. If you’ve stuck with the entire series from Rise of Heroes all the way to Dr. Morbid’s Castle of Blood, bless you. Even if the original trilogy was your only foray into Eric’s crazy world, thank you for taking a chance. As with every other book I’ve written and published, I hope you enjoy / enjoyed / continue to enjoy Eric Plath’s adventures as a normal kid caught up in beyond normal situations.

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The Porcelain CarnivalBLURB: In the seventh and final installment of the Masks series, nothing comes easy to sixteen-year-old Eric Plath – and the Shadow Puppet. On one hand, Eric suffers through the tedium of more homework, more groundings from irate parents, and sudden and inexplicable attention from mutated killer mannequins from the Shadow Puppet’s cabal. On the other hand, those evolving mannequins appear to have rattled a supervillain’s schemes of terrorizing Vintage City, and no one — not even the superheroes and the Sentries – can figure out what’s happening.

In the middle of this spiraling supervillain craziness are the growing numbers of disappearing teenagers, including Deena Alvarez, Eric’s good friend who’s in the process of transitioning behind the backs of her disapproving parents and grandparents. And the only clue dropped into Eric’s lap makes him an even bigger target to a supervillain who desperately needs it back.

Buy Links: JMS Books || Amazon || Smashwords

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EXCERPT:
(from Chapter 12)

“ERIC, YOU’RE NOT going to die.”

I glanced up, shooting Peter a withering look. “That’s easy for you to say. You weren’t neck-deep in seething, broiling garbage. I’ve got half a mind to demand a full cavity search.”

Peter froze. He didn’t even blink; I think he couldn’t find it in himself to blink. “This isn’t a good time to be kinky.”

“I’m not being kinky. I’m serious. I want to make sure no bacteria or viruses or mutated parasites and worms found their way under my jeans and underwear and up my ass.” I snorted. “Can you believe it? Parasites would get in there even way before you would, Peter Barlow. I don’t even want to think of the damage those bastards would cause. Hell, I wouldn’t be surprised if this means no gay butt sex till the day I die.”

Fan-made poster of Benedict Cumberbatch as Dr. Strange. If I were to fan cast Eric as a superhero, I'd kill to see him as the Sorcerer Supreme. He has to be an adult, though; otherwise, he'd destroy the whole planet with his still-raging teen hormones ruling his head.

Fan-made poster of Benedict Cumberbatch as Dr. Strange. If I were to fan cast Eric as a superhero, I’d kill to see him as the Sorcerer Supreme. He has to be an adult, though; otherwise, he’d destroy the whole planet with his still-raging teen hormones ruling his head.

I took a deep, calming breath because I was beyond furious. Was this what people called “incensed”? I think so, but I’d have to double-check my thesaurus. At any rate, I was fuming. It’d been an hour since I was rescued from the dumpster (and interrogated while squirming and practically sobbing in my killer
disease-soaked clothes), and I refused to leave the bathtub. I’d been sitting in warm, sudsy water for an eternity now, alternately scrubbing every inch of my skin with a loofa and dunking my head again and again in the water. Oh, and the soap used was one of those anti-bacterial types, by the way, because I damned well demanded it. In that really incensed way I could only demand , when I was dripping with filth from head to toe, with my messenger bag just as messed up as I was.

Since the Sentries were involved in my rescue, they dragged my sorry ass away from the crowd for some kind of shot – don’t know what the hell was in that syringe, but my guess was something like the love child of the flu shot and a tetanus shot. Plus maybe something for malaria, the Black Plague, and Ebola. Whatever formula they’d used on me must’ve been totally epic and badass, considering how crazy big the needle was. I wasn’t sure if I should faint again or just plain lose all control of my bowels and shit inside my jeans.

Another fan cast moment - maybe if he were a street-level superhero, Eric can be Iron Fist. Then he can team up with Daredevil, Jessica Jones, and Luke Cage as The Defenders and protect Vintage City that way. Then again, maybe not.

Another fan cast moment – maybe if he were a street-level superhero, Eric can be Iron Fist. Then he can team up with Daredevil, Jessica Jones, and Luke Cage as The Defenders and protect Vintage City that way. Then again, maybe not.

“There you go,” Brenda had said after sticking me. She actually tried to cheer me up by gurgling and doing all kinds of baby talk the whole time. I just gaped at her, my lower lip wobbling. “You don’t have to worry about infections and stuff.”

Easy for her to say, I thought, but I didn’t get all honest and truthy then because all I wanted was to go home, scrub myself down to a molecule, and spend the rest of the day in self-pity mode.

I’d also demanded to have all of my clothes burned as well as my bag, and I didn’t care how much it’d cost Mom and Dad to help me replace those things because I knew twenty billion cycles in the washing machine wouldn’t ease my mind. I might as well start over.

Kamala Khan (Ms. Marvel) gives us a great superhero series for teens. I can see Eric chilling with her. Embiggen!

Kamala Khan (Ms. Marvel) gives us a great superhero series for teens. I can see Eric chilling with her. Embiggen!

Oh, and if I crossed paths with one of those dumbass mutated mannequins, I’m going to fucking murder it dead twenty times over.

That bathtub, by the way, was in my parents’ bathroom because mine only had a shower stall. Peter was in there with me – without parental permission, by the way, because everyone was still at work. I was naked and helpless, my boyfriend was there, taking care of me, and I couldn’t have sex with him even if he begged. Why? Parasites up the ass, that was why.

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THE GIVEAWAY

Rafflecopter Giveaway

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The Fine Print:

*Entrants must be 18 years or older to qualify
*Some residency restrictions may apply
*All comments must be relevant to the author’s prompt to be eligible (when applicable)
*The Novel Approach will not be held liable for prize delivery unless otherwise specified
*Void where prohibited by law

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5 Stars, Cari Z., Reviewed by Angel, Riptide Publishing, Sci-Fi/Fantasy/Urban Fantasy

Review: Where There’s Fire by Cari Z.

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Title: Where There’s Fire (Panopolis: Book Two)

Author: Cari Z.

Publisher: Riptide Publishing

Pages/Word Count: 119 pages

At a Glance: Cari Z delivers another excellent, action packed adventure from Panopolis!

Reviewed By: Angel

Blurb: Making a name for myself as a Villain in Panopolis is hard work. Six months ago, my boyfriend broke me out of jail. Now he’s spending most of his time defending our turf against other Villains he accidentally freed along with me. And my new psychic powers are not only impossible to control, but they’re also giving me migraines.

But it’s not all doom and gloom. My skills are improving every day, and Raul—aka the Mad Bombardier—and I have never been happier. That is, until my first solo job is interrupted by a mysterious woman who tells me that Raul has been kidnapped by a ruthless new Villain. The only way to free him is to do a job for Maggot, a man with scary ideas and an even scarier superpower.
I can’t go to the cops or a Hero for help. Odds are they wouldn’t listen to me anyway. If I fail, Raul will be killed. If I succeed, we’ll both be bound to a man who’ll stop at nothing to put Panopolis on the path to civil war.
It looks like the only way to win is to take out the competition.

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Review: Cari Z. delivers another excellent, action packed adventure from Panopolis! I will never look at Heroes and Villains the same way again, and neither will you. This is a most excellent thing, indeed.

When I saw this title go up as one of our choices, I jumped on it. I could not get enough of the first book in the series, and though it was only a little over a month ago that I read Where There’s Smoke, it felt like forever. It was so well done, I hadn’t forgotten a thing about the plot, and Fire picks up shortly after where Smoke ended. It is still the gritty, realistic fantasy that packs a well-placed punch to the gut when all is revealed in this installment.

Cari Z., Panopolis, Raul, and Edward do not disappoint. Like the first story, I couldn’t put this one down when I began reading, and I was ecstatic with the outcome even as I was saddened by it ending. I can’t wait for more of this verse by the author.

The storyline moves the characters along at a fast pace, but you are right there with them as the action happens. I found myself cheering Edward on as he struggled to find his place and rescue Raul. I hissed at the big, bad Villain each time he appeared, and fell for the newest characters introduced in this book.

Don’t get me wrong; I am still totally in love with Raul and Edward and their story, but I think I just might change my stance on Freight Train. I really didn’t like him in the first novel, but Cari Z. made me care just a bit about this Hero, even though I am a strict Villain-type woman. I want his story!

So much happens in such a short time, and I won’t spoil you here, but not one word was wasted. The economy made me savor the story, even though it seemed to just speed on by, and I craved more when it ended. I love that the author has turned this genre on its nose, and gives nothing but the best in continuity, character development and story in this book. If you haven’t read the first one, I highly recommend you do because while you are given the backstory in Fire, the experience is richer for having read Smoke first.

I am so on my toes to find out just what is happening in Panopolis, wondering who exactly SuperTruther is, waiting for Freight Train’s tale, and how Edward and Raul are going to survive this next stage of their lives that it just leaves me breathless with anticipation.

All I can say is read it and enjoy! Thank you, again, Cari Z., for such a fantastic and engaging tale in your excellently crafted world!

TNA_Signature_Angel

 

 

 

You can buy Where There’s Fire here:

All Romance eBooks

All Romance eBooks

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Giveaways, Hayden Thorne, Queerteen Press

Guest Post and Giveaway: Curse of Arachnaman by Hayden Thorne

Curse of Arachnaman

We welcome Hayden Thorne today to chat a bit about the re-release of Curse of Arachnaman, the continuing adventures of Eric, Peter, and the rest of the superheroes and villains who populate Vintage City. Enjoy the excerpt Hayden is sharing, then be sure to click on the Rafflecopter widget below for the chance to win an e-copy of Curse of Arachnaman.

Good luck!

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AUTHOR’S NOTE: My original intention for Mr. Eric Steven Plath was to finish his adventures at the end of Masks: Ordinary Champions, the third installment of the original trilogy. As I wrote it, though, wee little ideas kept popping up like mutant undead gophers here and there. And dark forces swayed me into turning that spider robot attack at the mall into something more than what was originally intended. I was at first hoping to show that the superheroes’ work is never done. Get rid of one supervillain, and another will rise up the ranks and annoy the living hell out of everyone. But, noooooo.

And so, Curse of Arachnaman’s basic plot slowly formed in my head. I thought at first it was going to be nothing more than an odd one-off after the trilogy, but at that point, the genie had been let out, and more books popped out. I’m currently working on the seventh and last installment of the entire series, and I hope to have it available fairly soon.

Curse of Arachnaman, Mimi Attacks!, and Dr. Morbid’s Castle of Blood are all episodic in nature. They don’t follow an arc, but they’re clearly sequels of each other, with all of them following the events in the original trilogy.

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91lG0nKT5EL._SL1500_Blurb: Curse of Arachnaman follows the events in the first three books in the Masks series. Eric is settling down into a near-normal existence. He’s learning to cope with a different kind of closet — being kept from talking freely about his relationship with Calais and the other superheroes — as well as an increasingly protective mother, his sister’s new squeaky-clean boyfriend, and a bingo-obsessed best friend.

Eric also learns that, sometimes, being an asset to the forces of good means simply being himself. In the meantime, Vintage City is under siege from a new threat, one which is proving to be much more dangerous than all of the other supervillains the heroes have faced combined. Good people find themselves at the mercy of an angry lunatic who will stop at nothing to purge the city of what he sees to be undesirable elements.

Buy Links: Queerteen Press/JMS Books | Amazon | Smashwords

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Excerpt: From Chapter 17

The girl who’d fallen apart earlier dangled nearby, but she’d calmed down by now. All I could hear from her were a little bit of sniffling and coughing as she waited her turn to be released.

“Glad to see you’re okay,” I said, offering her a smile, for what it was worth.

“I wanna go home,” she croaked. “That’s saying something, you know, ‘cause I hate my parents. This sucks.”

“Well – you kind of get used to this sort of thing after a while. Trust me.”

She blinked. “You’ve been screwed up like this before?”

“More times than you can imagine. I look at this as character-building, sort of.”

Fun Superheroes are fun to write.

Fun Superheroes are fun to write.

Calais had walked up to her by then. “Okay, don’t move,” he said as he grabbed hold of the white stuff that wrapped around her and tore it open with one powerful tug of his hands. The sound of ripping cloth followed, and with a little yelp, the girl fell straight into his arms.

The next few moments were like the longest ever in my short-yet-screwed-up life. Think of a really awful, sappy video of some really awful, sappy love song. Okay, imagine everything happening in super slow-motion, with the girl falling in Calais’ arms. Then their eyes meet. He looks sympathetic yet stays professionally distant. She stares at him, stunned, her arms wrapped around his neck, her body easily held up because he’s just oh-so-strong.

Oh, fucking hell, just think of the scene in Sense and Sensibility where Kate Winslet fell down and got swept up in Greg Wise’s arms in the rain – thank you, Liz, for making me suffer through that sappy-ass movie – are you with me yet? Yeah, that was it. That was bloody it, as the British would say.

“Easy, easy, I got you,” he said, setting her back on the ground. It took her several more very annoying seconds before she let go because she clung like a leech to him even after he set her down. “You’re safe now,” he reassured her, prying her arms from his neck. “Okay, let me go, so I can take this guy down.”

“Oh,” she breathed, staring at him, wide-eyed. “Thank you.”

Dat awkward moment...

Dat awkward moment…

God. I recognized that look.

“Wow, you’re even better-looking in person,” she added, tucking hair behind her ears. Did she just giggle and blush? Calais smiled back and gave her a reassuring pat on the arm, and, encouraged, she stood on tiptoes and gave him a grateful peck on the cheek.

I sighed. “Hello, helpless victim over here. Very uncomfortable position. Probably damaged innards and ability to produce children.”

“Thank you,” she said, her voice taking on a little-girl-like tone. It took the appearance of a police officer to pull her away from Calais, and she trotted off, glancing over her shoulder for one final adoring look before vanishing in the confusion of activity.

“Well, will you look at that?” I said dully. “I’m the last one to be saved. Yay me.”

Calais stood before me, hands on his nicely narrow hips. “I leave you alone for three minutes, and all hell breaks loose.”

“Hey, I didn’t ask to be attacked! Are you blaming me?”

“I told you to wait by the car, didn’t I?”

“Well, yeah, but…”

“Uh-huh…”

Random, gratuitous image post of my current imaginary boyfriend.

Random, gratuitous image post of my current imaginary boyfriend.

I sighed again, drooping. “I just wanted to check out the arcade,” I said. “What’s the harm in that?”

“Um…” Calais pointed at my web cocoon. “In case you haven’t noticed.”

“Look, I was born under a black sign. Can I come down now? This sucks. Oh, by the way, thanks for the Jane Austen moment back there.”

“Huh?”

“Never mind.” I frankly didn’t know what was worse – seeing Peter/Calais with a girl or with another guy. Either way made me want to puke out all my innards.

Shaking his head, Calais tore at the stuff, and I fell into his arms, which was always a good thing, though it was too bad he couldn’t take me home like this. And there were way too many people around, so no huggy-kissy stuff and all the comfort-me-please things that happened when the hero saved the day.

“Thanks,” I grumbled. Then I gave a start, stiffening. I looked behind mme and then gaped at him. “What the…did you just goose me?”

He grinned. “The best thing about hyper speed. I can get away with so much crap with you in public.”

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Hayden ThorneAbout the Author: I’ve lived most of my life in the San Francisco Bay Area though I wasn’t born there (or, indeed, the USA). I’m married with no kids and three cats, am a cycling nut (go Garmin!), and my day job involves artwork, great coworkers who specialize in all kinds of media, and the occasional strange customer requests involving papier mache fish with sparkly scales.

I’m a writer of young adult fiction, specializing in contemporary fantasy, historical fantasy, and historical genres. My books range from a superhero fantasy series to reworked folktales to Victorian ghost fiction. My themes are coming-of-age with very little focus on romance (most of the time) and more on individual growth with some adventure thrown in.

Follow Hayden on her Blog or on Twitter

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THE GIVEAWAY:

Rafflecopter Giveaway

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5 Stars, Hayden Thorne, Queerteen Press, Reviewed by Lisa, Sci-Fi/Fantasy/Urban Fantasy, Young Adult

Review: Masks: Ordinary Champions by Hayden Thorne

Title: Masks: Ordinary Champions

Author: Hayden Thorne

Publisher: Queerteen Press

Pages/Word Count: 189 Pages

Rating: 5 Stars

Blurb: Book 3 of the Masks series follows Eric’s adventures as a newly-transformed supervillain sidekick. Taking advantage of Eric’s relationship with Peter, the Devil’s Trill uses him for a shield against the superheroes. In the meantime, new villains and a new, covert vigilante-like group appear, with a young hero with chameleon powers attempting to infiltrate the Trill’s hideout and help Eric. Continue reading

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Hayden Thorne, Queerteen Press

Guest Post and Giveaway: “Masks: Ordinary Champions” by Hayden Thorne

“Make it dark, make it grim, make it tough, but then, for the love of God, tell a joke.” – Joss Whedon

 

Blurb:

Book 3 of the Masks series follows Eric’s adventures as a newly-transformed supervillain sidekick. Taking advantage of Eric’s relationship with Peter, the Devil’s Trill uses him for a shield against the superheroes. In the meantime, new villains and a new, covert vigilante-like group appear, with a young hero with chameleon powers attempting to infiltrate the Trill’s hideout and help Eric.

Eric struggles with his conscience and schemes to turn the tables on the Trill, but his powers deteriorate. He grows more and more unstable and unsafe while the Trill’s henchmen appear to grow stronger and stronger, as though they were also subjected to the same manipulation that’s been used on Eric. As the Trill fights both the heroes and tries to assert his dominance over the new villains, Eric realizes that he doesn’t have much time left to set things right on his own, even if it costs him his life. Continue reading

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5 Stars, Hayden Thorne, Queerteen Press, Reviewed by Lisa, Sci-Fi/Fantasy/Urban Fantasy, Young Adult

Hayden Thorne’s “Masks: Evolution” Delivers More Action And Adventure To Vintage City

“Sometimes giving up control could very well be the cure to one’s spiritual sickness. Or whatever.” – Hayden Thorne


Title: Masks: Evolution

Author: Hayden Thorne

Publisher: Queerteen Press

Pages/Word Count:

Rating: 5 Stars

Blurb: While his friends continue to develop their newfound powers, Eric begins to feel the effects of being the odd man out. Around him, things go from bad to worse for Vintage City as the Shadow Puppet, a new supervillain, steps into the Devil’s Trill’s shoes and wreaks havoc with his army of killer mannequins. Continue reading

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Hayden Thorne, JMS Books LLC, Queerteen Press

Excerpt And Giveaway – Masks: Evolution by Hayden Thorne

22457655Today we welcome Hayden Thorne on the Masks: Evolution Blog Tour. Evolution is the sequel to Rise of Heroes, and carries on the story of teenage Eric, his boyfriend Peter, their friend Althea, and all the superhero and supervillain action Vintage City can handle.

THIS CONTEST IS CLOSED Continue reading

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Dreamspinner Press, Lex Chase

Lex Chase’s “Conventional Love” Is Unconventionally Great


“Superhero science has taught me this: Entire universes fit comfortably inside our skulls.” – Grant Morrison


Title: Conventional Love: Checkmate Book Three

Author: Lex Chase

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

Pages/Word Count: 154 Pages

Rating: 5 Stars

Blurb: Sequel to Cashing the Reality Check
Checkmate: Book Three
Continue reading

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Hayden Thorne, Queerteen Press

“Masks: Rise of Heroes” – In Which There Are Strange Things Afoot In Vintage City


“With great power there must also come—great responsibility.” – Stan Lee


Title: Masks: Rise of Heroes

Author: Hayden Thorne

Publisher: Queerteen Press

Pages/Word Count: 238

Rating: 5 Stars

Blurb: Strange things are happening in Vintage City, and sixteen-year-old Eric seems to be right in the middle of them. There’s a new villain in town, one with super powers, and he’s wreaking havoc everywhere and on Eric’s life. The new superhero who springs up to defend Vintage City is almost as bad, making Eric all hot and bothered, enough so that he almost misses the love that’s right under his nose.
Continue reading

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Hayden Thorne, Queerteen Press

Hayden Thorne Brings On “Masks: Rise of Heroes”, And A Giveaway!



Firstly, thanks to everyone for putting up with me twice in a month. I’m normally a lot more reclusive than this, but Lisa’s been very encouraging, and even a hermit can’t say no. :D So let’s get going, shall we?

Masks: Rise of Heroes is the first of a three-novel arc (and the first of six books in a series) about the (mis)adventures of Eric Plath – sixteen, gay, and not a superhero, unlike his friends. It was one of three YA novels I debuted when Torquere Press first opened Prizm Books, their YA imprint. I recently got my rights back, with my contract with Prizm expiring, and I’m now re-releasing it through Queerteen Press. With additional edits to smoothen rough edges and some minor tweaking of a few passages that have always bugged me with their muddiness, I’m now very happy – not to mention much more confident – to offer it up again.

Masks: Rise of Heroes – 2nd Edition Cover

It’s now in its second edition with a new cover image.

Rise of Heroes started out as a short story – an erotic adult story, at that – that I’d submitted in answer to an anthology call years ago (called Unmasked: Erotic Tales of Gay Superheroes). Rejected, of course, as yet another ding to my belief that I can write adult erotic stuff. It sat inside my folder for a few months until I received a request for material from Torquere Press, who’d said that they thought that I’d be one of a handful of TP authors who’d be interested in writing gay YA for them.

I doubted my ability to write from a teen’s POV at first but decided, why not? The worst they could do was reject my manuscript. Besides, I suck at writing erotic adult material, so there you go. The gay superhero theme turned out to be a promising one, so I decided to dust off the short story I wrote, purge it of all erotic elements, and expand it into a novel. As it turned out, Eric’s story wasn’t complete by the time I’d written the last chapter, so I thought then to expand it into a series and ended the Rise of Heroes with a mini-cliffhanger of sorts.

Eric Plath was – and still remains – my free therapist. As a fictional character, he’s always been the teenager I never was (ignore the fact that he’s male and gay, and I’m female and straight). He’s confident (overly so in some instances), brash, sassy, a serious drama queen, and always in trouble with his parents. I was the kid who hid herself in the darkest corner of a given room, vanishing behind a book, while everyone had fun around me. I never gave my parents any lip. I was a freakin’ Catholic School girl, for crying out loud, from kindergarten all the way to my senior year in high school. I suffered through hour-long rosary rallies during October. I forced myself to shed a tear when Pope Paul VI died because all my classmates were crying around me. Good lord, I was hopeless.

So writing Eric was like a fun, fun, FUN tumble into the rabbit hole, and I’ve never looked back.

Masks: Rise of Heroes – Original Cover

I wanted to avoid writing him as a superhero because it would’ve been expected for me to do that, and I really wanted to do something different. After all, that would’ve meant lots of material for teen existential angst, with superhero otherness mirroring a gay kid’s sexuality otherness, in a manner of speaking. I wanted him to be an outsider and yet not, and it meant making him the non-genetically manipulated kid whose normalcy helps ground his superhero buddies. Yeah, he’s the outsider looking in, a hanger-on, so to speak, but he’s the one his friends depend on to keep their superhero feet on the ground. He doesn’t spare them his snark and his attitude. He marvels at their powers and is even jealous of them in some way or another, yet he treats them no differently from everyone else, doesn’t place them on any pedestal.

Unless it’s his superhero boyfriend, of course. In that case, all Eric wants is to get inside Peter’s pants while placing him on a pedestal.

Another reason why I avoided turning him into a superhero was that I wanted to explore teen issues from the perspective of an ordinary boy who’s trapped in extraordinary circumstances, with him being both observer and participant. It’s bad enough he’s got his Regular Joe Blow issues to deal with, with his Chemistry and Geometry classes making him want to retire to a monastery if he could; he certainly doesn’t need the craziness of all the superhero vs. supervillain activity exploding around him.

Besides, it messes up his commute.

The biggest reason was humor, which is kind of my default tone when it comes to writing. I wanted to show the superheroes as awkwardly kickass, their development never perfect, and I wanted Eric to be the critic who’s also fumbling his way through his own issues. Superheroes are campy, something that Joss Whedon understood very well, which was why The Avengers proved to be a great success (and why I love watching it again and again). You can certainly do angst when it comes to superheroes, go all-out gritty and dark a la Chris Nolan’s Dark Knight series, but for me, it’s all about embracing those campy elements and knowing when to have fun with the material. Magnifiman, the leader of the superhero pack, even talks a certain way – very silver screen, as Eric puts it. He even strikes a very heroic pose now and then that’s never lost on Eric.

I’d just finished writing the first draft when Perry Moore’s Hero was released. As I’d been holed up for months working on my books for Prizm, I’d remained in the dark regarding Moore’s debut novel and missed out on the buzz surrounding it. Of course I bought it and eagerly read it. And I loved it. It remains my all-time favorite gay YA novel even with what I feel are its flaws.

It was the first gay YA novel I’d read that’s out and proud of its fantasy elements while it uses them to explore contemporary LGBT issues. It’s not a completely escapist read, but I really appreciate the humor and the earnestness of the way it tackles Thom’s problems, which include his relationship with his father. It was also a much-needed reassurance for me as I’d wondered if going escapist with Rise of Heroes with a heavier emphasis on humor would be a good move.

It was also reassurance for me to be out and proud of my fantasy books for gay kids, when the overwhelming preference for gay YA fiction has always been – and continues to be – contemporary realistic (or issues-based) stories. I figured there’ll always be room, no matter how small, for Eric and other kids like him, whose experiences are nutty, weird, freaky, and everything in between, with the world around them hopelessly cockeyed and all the more fun – or even thought-provoking despite the comedy – for that.

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In honor of Hayden’s visit today, she’s offering the chance for one lucky reader to win an E-copy of Masks: Rise of Heroes.

All you have to do is leave a comment right here on this post, and you’re automatically entered. Comments must be received by midnight Pacific Time on Monday, December 30, 2013. One winner will be drawn at random on Tuesday, the 31st, and contacted by email for prize delivery.

Good luck!

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