Lisa: We’re so pleased to welcome author C.B. Lee today, on the tour for her new Young Adult Superhero Romance, Not Your Sidekick.
Welcome, C.B., let’s start by having you tell us a little bit about yourself.
CBL: Hello! I’m so excited to be here today. Thank you so much for having me on your blog. I’m C.B., a writer who also loves reading, hiking, and traveling. I’m a first generation Chinese American woman from California, and my current novel is Not Your Sidekick. Jess comes from a superhero family and has a lot of live up to, but she doesn’t have any superpowers. She gets a chance when she gets a job for the town’s supervillain and also starts working with her crush, Abby.
Lisa: What’s the best line you ever wrote?
CBL: Oh, I have many favorites, but I’m rather partial to this bit, from Seven Tears At High Tide:
The sky, caught in that nebulous time after sunset, still glows with the energy of the day, and the heavy velvet of night has yet to fall upon them. A few stars gleam through the purple twilight, as if they were too impatient to wait until dark to shine.
There’s a really pivotal moment that I’m laying out the scene for here, and I’m quite happy with the imagery and the transitioning themes and the anticipation for what is a huge turning point in the novel.
Lisa: Do you listen to music while writing? If so, what kind?
CBL: I love listening to music while I write! I don’t know if I would get much writing done without a soundtrack. I love listening to instrumental music, especially if it’s action oriented. Currently my writing playlist includes tracks from Pacific Rim, Star Wars, Harry Potter, Pirates of the Caribbean, Jurassic Park, Ghostbusters, and Star Trek. A lot of John Williams in all of that, heh.
Lisa: If your book were made into a movie, what actors would you like to see star?
CBL: I think there are quite a few Asian-American actresses who would be a great Jess. Having a Vietnamese or Chinese American (or ideally mixed, like Jess) play Jess would be a fantastic start. Patricia Nguyen, Malese Jow, Jamie Chung, Tiffany Espensen, Allisa Allapach, Jenn Liu and Christina Masterson are all fantastic options. For Abby, I’m imagining Sophie Turner, Karen Gillian, Rosie Leslie, or Katie Leclerc.
Lisa: What genres do you write in?
CBL: Young adult! I love writing in this genre, it’s this amazing time where youth are learning about themselves, being exploratory, figuring out who they want to be. I find the challenges addressed in these works have so much meaning. I think there’s definitely a need for more LGBTQIA+ protagonists for teens to see themselves in. As for sub-genres, my favorite thing is adding elements of fantasy or science fiction to a story, because there’s just so much potential.
Lisa: Where and when do you prefer to write?
CBL: I try to fit intervals of twenty minutes at a time into my schedule, it doesn’t matter when during the day. I work a few different jobs during the day so I keep pretty busy, but keeping up the writing flow is important to me. I like quiet spaces, and my home office does pretty well, except I get distracted easily. Coffeeshops and boba places are good alternatives too, especially good for productivity. When everyone else is on a laptop clicking away it helps to put me in that writing mood. And also, IKEA. I think the clean, stark lines of the furniture and the cheap coffee and meatball plates make for a great environment.
About the Book
Publisher: Interlude Press (Duet)
Length: 296 Pages
Category: Young Adult, Fantasy, LGBT Romance, Superhero
Release Date: September 8, 2016
Buy Links: Interlude || Amazon || B&N || iBooks || ARe || Smashwords || Kobo || Book Depository || IndieBound
Blurb: Welcome to Andover, where superpowers are common, but internships are complicated. Just ask high school nobody, Jessica Tran. Despite her heroic lineage, Jess is resigned to a life without superpowers and is merely looking to beef up her college applications when she stumbles upon the perfect (paid!) internship—only it turns out to be for the town’s most heinous supervillain. On the upside, she gets to work with her longtime secret crush, Abby, whom Jess thinks may have a secret of her own. Then there’s the budding attraction to her fellow intern, the mysterious “M,” who never seems to be in the same place as Abby. But what starts as a fun way to spite her superhero parents takes a sudden and dangerous turn when she uncovers a plot larger than heroes and villains altogether.
His eyes glowing, he stands in the doorway. Master Mischief’s mechanical armor clanks as he steps into the room. The faded “M M” logo is blistered in purple paint on his chest.
Jess’ brain stutters. Has he figured out her parents’ secret identity? Is this is a kidnapping? A ruse to draw her parents out? She steps back and grabs for the pepper spray in her backpack, but that’ll be little help. Mischief is blocking the only exit.
He’s not an A-class villain, but Jess has never met any villain in the flesh. Despite all the funny T-shirts and silly videos of Mischief, and despite Jess’ arguments that some of what he does isn’t villainous at all, it’s hard to shake off years and years of seeing villains do terrible and destructive things in the news.
And now a villain stands in front of her; his electronic suit crackles with power.
Mischief can manipulate tech, but what is he’s doing here, in the heart of Monroe Industries? He’s certainly in his element. Anything electronic that isn’t too complicated, he can manipulate and control for a limited time. Jess has seen him direct cars to rebel against their owners and reprogram traffic lights and signs and computers.
Jess swallows and stands her ground. He’s silly. He mostly does harmless pranks. He’s ridiculous, not scary.
But it’s one thing to casually joke about villains and another to see one in person.
“I know we were deliberately vague in the job listing and interview, but I hope you understand why we needed the utmost discretion,” Mischief says. The voice is a little different than what she remembers, but that could be her imagination. It’s more electronic—is that a thing?
“Master Mischief?” Jess asks.
Mischief tilts his head; he almost fills the doorframe. But Mischief is quite a few inches shorter than Mistress Mischief, and the difference is always exaggerated in the comics.
He looks taller than Jess, and the suit—she can see black fabric at the knees under the metal armor, as if it doesn’t quite fit. And the logo is old, too; this version of the suit hasn’t been seen for at least a year. “What’s going on here?” Jess asks. “Why do you have Master Mischief’s mecha-suit?”
“Ah, I see you figured that out. I’m M, by the way. Nice to meet you.”
“Who are you?” Jess demands. “Do you actually work for Monroe Industries?”
“I’m not Master Mischief, that’s for sure. But yes, he works for Monroe Industries, and I do too. I was his assistant—am his assistant. He’s busy at the moment, and I’m running his lab in the interim.” M folds his arms and tilts his head and lights flicker without a discernible pattern on his helmet’s front panel. “You can laugh now. Villains need jobs too.”
Jess doesn’t laugh. It makes sense, actually. Mischief’s power of technological manipulation would be incredibly handy here; if his meta-powers weren’t low-level he’d be a formidable and almost unstoppable villain. As it is, he can’t use his powers for longer than probably twenty minutes at the most before he has to recharge, just like her parents. “If you’re his assistant, why don’t you have your own suit? What do you do exactly? And is this internship with Monroe Industries or with you and Master Mischief?”
M shakes his head, and makes a noise that almost sounds like a laugh before it is garbled into electronic static.
“I’m wearing an old prototype of his suit because we’ve been incredibly busy working on other projects. New mecha-suits aren’t a priority right now. And yes, you will be working for Monroe Industries, in a subsidiary with special interests. If that’s something you’re still interested in?” M asks.
“This isn’t a kidnapping, is it?”
The panel on M’s helmet blinks various shades of orange, and he throws up his hands. “No, no, absolutely not,” M says. “We wouldn’t kidnap you, do you—do you want to leave?”
About the Author
C.B. Lee is a bisexual writer, rock climber, and pinniped enthusiast from Southern California. A first-generation Asian American, she is passionate about working in communities of color and empowering youth to be inspired to write characters and stories of their own. Lee’s debut novel Seven Tears at High Tide was published by Duet Books in 2015 and named a finalist in the Bisexual Books Awards. This summer, C.B. was named to Lambda Literary’s Writers Retreat for Emerging LGBTQ Voices.
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