Today, I'm turning the blog over to Casey Peterson. His debut novel, Just Another Job, is on sale this month at Amazon for 99 cents. With this book, Casey has set out to tell a superhero story with a bit more depth and literary oomph, using not only some marvelous Marvel flair as inspiration, but some decidedly older works as well. Read on for Casey's piece!
Life’s script takes Chris Byrne from a passive tech support role to an active world saver. A simple drudging existence was on tap for Chris before an attempt at bravery places him as a sidekick for newly discovered superheroes. With government backing, Chris awkwardly attempts to live up to the heroic image while tagging along on Super missions. Although he may look it and proves slightly capable, Chris knows he can’t keep up the part and decides to quit. But walking away is the most daring performance in front of him. He stands to lose financial security for his family, a best friend that is also playing sidekick, and a new friend in the form of a Super. Then Chris sees the machinations behind it all.
Commercial Fiction with a Literary Bent
Thank you Michael for the opportunity to do this guest post.
I feel my title at the top best describes the genre I set out for with my first epublished book Just Another Job. Because as much fun as a superhero romp is, I never could entrench myself in the soap operas of Captain America and the X-Men for too long. I always needed something deeper for my brain to chew on.
Sure Steve Rogers throws a wicked fastball with that nigh-indestructible shield of his, but he’s also a bit of a cry baby. A man out of time eventually needs to get his head together and find an identity. When written well I can totally dig it. The mask gives him a purpose, without it he struggles. In the 1000 plus comics he’s appeared in, half give this identity crisis justice. The other half; a lot of pity parties that you don’t want to see from the first Avenger.
I wanted my protagonist to deal with a similar struggle, because, like I said earlier, when done well I relate. I also felt that that stoic, chiseled jaw figure rarely second guesses himself even without super soldier serum running through his veins. So I went for a common man, less self-assured than most, thrust into the spandex wearing world. He has little choice as the money a sidekick brings home is much nicer than a tech support provider. As cool as it is to stand next to real superheroes kicking ass, he can’t not help but wonder if there’s a safer option to gain a middle class existence.
But you can’t have a superhero story without some stoic, chiseled jaw figures running and jumping around doing amazing things for truth, justice, and the American way. Like the X-Men, I had to have a team because the dynamics and opportunities to play off each other were what drew me to comics as a kid. First with the classic 90s X-Men cartoon and then simultaneously the Marvel Masterpieces trading card line alongside the original comics. The X-Men I grew up with always had a strong female leading a group or the entire group in their fights against prejudice. My first real superhero had to be female; a mix of Storm’s natural elegance with the intense ferocity of Wolverine. The rest of the supporting cast was made up from the hundreds of other characters I’ve run across in my comic collection.
Of course, that’s only half of what I intended. Beneath the superhero surface, I wanted something more, and as grandiose as it may seem that meant using Shakespeare as inspiration. Like the X-Men, Shakespeare sunk his hooks in me at a young age. I remember getting strange looks in 6th grade as the only student to get a copy of Romeo and Juliet from the Scholastic book orders. I’d heard of this William Shakespeare guy and how great he supposedly was, so I had to give it a try.
The first thing to shock me was there was no happy ending for those star crossed lovers. Or for Julius Caesar, Hamlet, and Othello. Yet these tragedies spoke more truthfully to me about the world than any Michael Crichton or John Saul book I ran across. Which isn’t a very fair comparison but those were the only serious reads I had to put up against the Shakespeare juggernaut. After reading most of his plays, and many a few times over, I just don’t think I can pull away from the gravity of his work. All my writing will be influenced directly or indirectly by the true king of language.
For Just Another Job, the themes I wanted to delve into best mirrored the themes so masterfully explored in A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Two worlds run into each other in Dream and my book in which the characters can only catch glimpses of. And having just part of the whole picture affects them considerably in their choices. The power of dreams and the unsure nature of sleep felt like the right fit for my narrative as well. When we think of power, we forget how much sleeping and dreaming dominate our lives. Whether you’re catching a quick nap in the afternoon or daydreaming at work, the two patiently wait to take over your consciousness. Of course the most predominant theme of Just Another Job and one of Shakespeare’s many works of genius, was the engrossment of the theater/entertainment in our lives. Even more than any other time in history we seek out the pleasure of entertainment. So much media from so many different platforms fills up our headspace. The presence of superheroes is just that; entertainment. They are a spectacle that grabs our attention immediately, whether good or bad or the many forms in-between. I doubt I came anywhere close to mining the deepest depths of this idea but that’s why there’s always a next book.
It Was All for Nothing comes out this December in which Shakespeare’s influence on me goes even further in shaping my work. It’s a bit of a slow build horror novel about a valedictorian who wishes to balance out all the hard work he put in for high school with a debauched summer that ends in a legend trip.
For October 2014, Just Another Job will be on a $.99 promotion price on Amazon.
About Casey Peterson
I'm a burgeoning writer with just one book under my belt and another one on it's way for fall 2014. When I'm not dabbling in the written art, I'm teaching the art of the English language to junior high students. Beyond those two time consumers I also wile away the hours with Lego building sessions with my two boys and searching the recesses of Netflix for something usually scary with my wife.
Follow Casey on twitter @CaseyBungie1524