Hello there everyone. After over a month, we’re finally back with another new interview. This time, we’re actually going to the future, where superpowers are a bit more common. Second Class Supers is a novel that is being worked on by husband and wife team David Peralty and Annie Knowles. I also had a little personal interest in this one because our good friend DLeoBlack was the illustrator for their front cover.
We were able to conduct an interview with Annie and David, and I just know that you’re going to be excited to hear more about their project. Second Class Supers is currently in the closing days of a Kickstarter campaign, so please, go and give it a look!
Tellest: I really love the idea for Second Class Supers. How did you come up with the concept of for-purchase super powers?
Annie Knowles: The inspiration came from a lot of things, our love of Sci-Fi and Fantasy, as well as super heroes although neither of us are really comic book readers. The catalyst for this story was part a youtube video about adamantium claws, and part a car commercial with the tag line “who would ever want to be normal”. David sketched out the earliest ideas of the plot and we worked together to make it into a world filled with characters and conflicts and depth.
David Peralty: The YouTube video was a huge inspiration for the story, but also my interest in trying to tell a story about someone just finished their 20’s, but still hasn’t found their way in life, longing for things just out of reach. I can easily relate to that, and having super powers was just the hook to make that character journey more interesting.
T: At this point in the story, we see some people using their powers for good when terrible things happen. When a crisis is averted, the people on the periphery almost seem to shrug it off. Clearly the Supers program has been around for a while – could you tell us just how long?
AK: Supers have been available for consumers to purchase for about 20 years by the time our story takes place. The quantity of people with Supers by this point is kind of like how cell phones and computers are everywhere in our own world. We have become desensitized to the technology.
DP: Lots of leeway is given to people that have Supers, just like we give lots of leeway to people that are super rich today. Sure, there might be complaints about it and rumblings behind the scenes, but for the most part, there is this “what could I do about it anyways?” mentality.
T: So we know when these super powers came about, roughly. But how exactly were the Supers created, and why were they created in the first place?
DP: That’d be telling. We actually do take time in our story to map out how they came into being and the reasons behind it. This is all part of our attempt to make it easier to suspend disbelief and add depth to the world we created.
AK: It actually plays a pretty big part in our story and I really don’t want to give any of that away.
T: Are there sort of like back alley Super shops, where you could take a gamble with your own life with the chance at a better standing in society?
DP: Like with nearly anything of value, there are less than scrupulous ways to get what you want. The hard part for us was that when you start thinking about back alley deals, then you then have to work out how society manages such things.
AK: I really hate to give spoilers, but we do touch on this in the story.
T: We spend a lot of time with Kya, and learn that she really wants her own super power. But is it possible to lose your superpowers once you have them?
AK: It is possible to lose superpowers, though it’s not easy.
DP: We work through that question in the story, so I don’t want to say too much beyond what my wife said.
T: Your use of dialogue is very impressive, including the cell phone conversations the characters carry on. Did you practice texting people you know, or did it all come second nature?
AK: One of the great things about writing as a team is that we can play to each other’s strengths. David is great at description and world building, and I am good at characterization and dialogue. For me the voices of the characters and the way they interact came really naturally. As we developed our characters, we’d have conversations about their personalities and their motivations, as well as their appearances and from that their voices developed. I love writing conversation scenes. Texting dialogue was probably the biggest challenge, as this was the first time I have used it in my writing. Although I didn’t directly practice texting for this story, I did draw on my years of experience with the medium to try and make it believable, thinking about how I send and receive texts.
DP: If it wasn’t for Annie’s work on dialog, I don’t think the story would be even a tenth as interesting. I am not one for writing conversations, and if you find any that seem stiff or just a little off, then it was probably because I ended up writing them. We also made sure that there weren’t too many changes to our current society to help make people sound and feel relatable in their language, conversations, and even in texting. I’m very happy that you’ve enjoyed that aspect of the writing.
T: If you were going to be in charge of doling out Supers, what would be your criteria – beyond the ability to pay – for allowing people to qualify for their potential powers?
AK: If it were up to me, I’d probably have a very strict screening process, finding out why a person wants the power, what they plan to do with it, how likely they are to be swayed by external forces. In the world we created, Supers are a status symbol, they are becoming the new currency. Having a Super grants a person more opportunities, more freedom, and a better quality of life – or at least that is how they are marketed. If I were in charge I would have very minimal marketing, and try and keep it out of the public eye. I mean, there has to be a good reason people aren’t born with super powers, right?
DP: What a difficult question to ask. My wife makes some great points, but I would love to open the floodgates even more than in our story. The idea of everyone having super powers is exciting to me, but current human nature being how it is, I probably wouldn’t let anyone have them. Just as we’ve realized that nuclear weapons aren’t a good idea, super powers probably wouldn’t be either.
T: Kya meets a lot of oppression in the forms of people like Ken and Mr. Georgetown. They’re the kind of characters you just want to see get what’s coming to them. Is it safe to say we’ll see the tables flipped on them by the story’s end? Please say yes.
DP: I’d hate to give away too much of the story, but the focus is really on Kya and a period of growth and change in her life. I think we’ve all dealt with people like Ken and Don Georgetown in our lives. I can say that there is more depth to them than is shown in the first third of the book.
AK: I agree that we don’t want to give away too much of the story, but we will see more of those characters.
T: We see a lot of authority figures, like police and security guards, approach a situation like a Normal. Are there some officers of the law that have specifically equipped with Supers to give them the edge on fighting crime, or have those elite citizens become the real law keepers?
DP: As the story progresses, we learn more about the police system. I don’t mind telling you that certain law enforcement people have Supers specialized for their specific roles. I can envision a whole second book discussing what it would be like to be in the military with super powers. In our world, we see that the police are struggling to keep up with the technology, weaponry and vehicles that those on the opposite side of the law have. I think those same issues would exist in a society like the one in Second Class Supers.
AK: There definitely is a place for Supers in the law enforcement in the world we have created. I think their Supers have been streamlined to be more effective and less flashy than the general population.
T: Are there any superpowers that we’re going to see that break the traditional mold? Anything specific that you’re really proud of?
DP: Annie and I often discussed how far we were going to go with superpowers. We want people to be able to suspend disbelief, and so we didn’t want to go so far as to create an ability that seemed out of place or took people out of the story, but I think that people will be pleasantly surprised by things unveiled in the second half of the story.
AK: We spent a lot of time thinking and talking about how the Supers in this world work, what was possible with Supers and their limitations. More than any Super that we came up with I’m really proud of the world we created and the origin and history of Supers that we came up with.
T: If you were going to have your own Super manifest, what would it be?
DP: You don’t realize how difficult of a question that is. I’ve had a number of discussions throughout my life about what I’d want. I think some form of telekinesis would be ideal. I could potentially hide the ability through careful use by making it seem like I’m just stronger than normal. We definitely don’t live in a world where any real comic book style superpower would be treated with the awe and respect of the comics, cartoons and movies we’ve grown up on. I am pretty sure that if I had one manifest, I’d be locked up pretty quickly and experimented on.
AK: I would love to fly, but I think that would be a very dangerous Super for me to have, I’m rather clumsy. Invisibility or telekinesis could work for me though.
T: Have you thought about pursuing other mediums with this setting? Comic books seem like they would make a lot of sense.
DP: I’d love to see it expand past being a novel because in my head it plays out as a movie or cartoon, and while I didn’t read many comics growing up, I think it would fit that medium as well. As for our abilities to do things outside of the written word, that depends on how well the project is received as Annie and I would have to hire/find talent to help us with anything visual.
AK: It would be awesome to see our story expanded and adapted to fit other media. Our talents lie in writing, and as David said, we are ill equipped to adapt it on our own.
T: It may be a little preemptive, but a world with powers like these has a huge potential to be expansive as time goes on. Have you put any thought into sequels?
DP: Even just with our main characters it would be easy to write other stories, novellas, or full length novels. You pointed out that Don Georgetown and Ken are both jerks, but what if they weren’t always that way? What if, in a better than “the prequel trilogy” way, we could walk you through the situations that created the antagonists of our story?
You asked questions about law enforcement, and that alone could make a great story as we flesh out who can have super powers and who cannot. I don’t think that’s a niche that has really been explored. As we get closer to a world with genetic engineering, we potentially enter a world something like Second Class Supers or, much more likely, something like Gattaca (an underrated movie in my mind).
AK: There is definitely a very rich world in SCS to draw from to make other stories. Our plan is to have Kya’s story be a stand alone novel, but we also plan to re-visit this world and tell the stories of other characters, and other points in time in that world. We would make each book a stand alone story though. So while we might see Kya again, it wouldn’t be in a continuation of this story. There is a part of the world that Kya sees later in the story, and I would love for us to sink our teeth into that, and tell a story from their perspective.
Thank you to Annie and David for taking the time to sit down and talk to us. As I said before, they are in the midst of a campaign on Kickstarter for this awesome new story. Coming from someone who has been on that path, any and all help is greatly appreciated. Please check them out!
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