Congratulations on the upcoming release of your sequel, The Secret War. What is one thing you and Jack have in common?
I like to think that I have some of Jack's determination. There is really no "quit" in Jack. No matter how much trouble gets piled on top of his shoulders, he just sucks it up and keeps moving forward. He doesn't always make the right decisions (which I suppose is something else we have in common), but he doesn't crawl up in a ball and wait to die either. You can't beat the guy who never gives up. That's Jack, and that's something I try my best to be as well.
What has been your favorite part of Jack's world to create?
This one is easy. I love Cognito. It's a part of the Imagine Nation that is entirely filled with superhero hideouts and secret lairs. Every day at a different time, the streets in Cognito rearrange themselves into a fresh new labyrinth, and the whole borough shuffles like a deck of cards to make sure everything stays hidden. Fans of Jack Blank can expect to see more of Cognito in and the THE SECRET WAR.
You have some great character twists in The Secret War. Which of your characters has changed the most since you first started writing the series?
The biggest change was Jazen Knight, who started out as two different people. I had Jazen, who brings Jack to the Imagine Nation, and a separate robotic butler character whose job it was to help Jack around once he got there. At the end of the first draft, it was clear that there wasn't enough room for both characters in the book. They both needed more "page time," so I consolidated them. Jazen's personality didn't change, but his biology did-- he became an android. In the end, Jazen was a much stronger character as a result. Absolutely one of those instances where I felt like I struck gold during the revision process.
If you could spend a day in the Imagine Nation, which super hero would you want to spend it with?
I would hang out with Blue, the super strong, giant blue hero who helps bring Jack to the Imagine Nation in Book 1. I just like him. He's a fun guy, doesn't take himself too seriously, and he's fiercely loyal and protective of his friends. Whatever trouble we got into (and I'm sure there would be some), I know Blue would have my back. In Book 2, Jack is "sidekicking" for Blue, who has left his job with Empire City's Super Police Dept., after finally getting fed up with all the paperwork.
Readers can click here to get a look at Blue, and check out the rest of the site for some other character images too.
What was your favorite book to read growing up and why?
In addition to the tons of X-Men comic books I read (and re-read, and re-read) growing up, I really enjoyed and was inspired by JURASSIC PARK. I was probably about 12 or 13 when that book came out. I remember thinking what an awesome "lightning-in-a-bottle" kind of idea it was, and then being struck by how intelligently that idea was executed. I just wanted to step into that world Michael Chricton had created-- at least until the dinosaurs got loose. Seeing the movie a few yeas later helped make that possible somewhat, but I was always glad that I had read the book first. Books like JURASSIC PARK made me want to get in the game and create something of my own.
If you could give young writers any advice, what would you say to them?
There is so much that can be said on this subject, but the big one, I think, is don’t give up. You only fail at something when you give up. If you’re still trying and you haven’t quit, then you haven’t failed, no matter how long you’ve been at it. A screenwriter named Josh Olson wrote, “You can’t discourage a writer. If I can talk you out of being a writer, then you’re not a writer.” I like that. Life is going to present you with no shortage of excuses for giving up.… The important thing to remember is that they are excuses. Not reasons.