New Author Adventures Interview: Lexie Dunne

Lexie Dunne is another author selected by Harper Voyager from its open submission window. I’ve met her at both the New York Comic Con and C2E2, and she is, without a doubt, the most serious, dour, person I’ve ever met in my life. As proof, her bio reads thusly:

Lexie Dunne is a woman of many masks, all of them stored neatly in a box under her bed. By day a mild-mannered technical writer and by night an adventuress and novelist, she keeps life interesting by ignoring it and writing instead. She hails from St. Louis, home of the world’s largest croquet game piece, and Superheroes Anonymous is her professional debut into the world of caped crusaders, a journey that started when her father took her and her brother to see The Rocketeer.
Getting her to return a phone call is impossible. You’d have better luck sticking a Dr. Pepper under a propped up box and waiting nearby, string in hand.

Hi, Lexie, welcome. We don’t often get kids in the pub. Would you like a bendy straw in your Dr. Pepper?
I drink my Dr Pepper like an adult, Bishop. LIKE AN ADULT. On the rocks, flavored with my own tears, and alone in a bar in west Texas somewhere.
…but if you have a pink bendy straw, I wouldn’t say no. It’s, uh, for a friend. *slurps*

Okay, let’s cut to the chase, you call yourself Lexie Dunne, but we all know that’s not your real name. Rumor has it your real name, when spoken aloud, has been known to summon any of the following at different times; the muffin man, the good humor man, Stan Lee, and the dark lord Cthulhu. Is it true? And what of the reports that Cthulhu appeared at an elementary school you were attending for second grade, moments after the teacher took attendance?
Ah, yes. Poor Mrs. Harris. You’d think a woman who deals with seven-year-olds that glue their fingers together with paste on a regular basis would be better equipped to handle an Elder God or two, but sadly, that proved not to be the case. She was a great teacher for all of the ten minutes that I had her on that first day.
Cthulhu and I have worked out a deal. My middle name also needs to be spoken aloud to summon him, but the Muffin Man is fair game at any time. Luckily, the only woman who knows that middle name is also way more terrifying than either of those monsters. Hi, Mom!
No comment on Stan Lee.

Nicely done on the mom shout out. Now, your first book revolves around a woman who is repeatedly taken hostage by various super powered criminals, and often injured when rescued by the superhero everyone thinks is her boyfriend. How much of this book is autobiographical?
Pretty much everything but Gail’s height. She’s 5’1, I’m 5’4. Other than that*, we’re practically separated at birth.
* And her muscles, sense of humor, sarcasm, wit, curly hair, having two very built dudes in love with her, and the ability to tuck away an entire Thanksgiving feast as a midmorning snack, that is.

What is it you love about superheroes and/or comics? Do you remember the first comic you read?
Superheroes, to me, have always been about hope. Usually they’re underdog stories, which I’m a sucker for (to the surprise of absolutely nobody), but going back to my very first superhero film, The Rocketeer, I like these stories of people who try to be good folk even while they have these crazy responsibilities and pretty nifty abilities. I’ve never been a big fan of the Alan Moore type stories that are grimdark and gritty; I like my stories brightly flavored and preferably in shiny colors (to keep me from getting distracted).
And my first comic that I ever read was Buffy Season Eight. I happened to be visiting NYC on a school trip the day it came out, so I went and found Forbidden Planet, bought my sister a Spider-Girl poster, and purchased my very first comic. I didn’t take to superhero comics until Captain Marvel in 2013.

And now that I feel really old, let’s move on. Are you in favor of the Oxford Comma, or are you one of the demented anarchists who, when not torturing puppies, oppose its use?
I am also a big fan of the vocative comma, too! No puppies are being tortured on my watch. I mean, mine might be overfed, but she’s currently being a cavetroll and breathing heavily behind me, but that might be the painkillers. The dentist told me there’s a 1 in 5000 chance that they’ll turn her into one of the ugly green gremlins.

Enough of the softball questions, let’s get serious. Marvel or DC?
Marvel for movies and comics, DC for select TV shows. Arrow doesn’t count because of what they did to Sara Lance. They’re still dead to me.

May God have mercy on their souls. How big of an influence would you say a love of comics has on your writing, not just storyline (that’s obvious), but tone, and style?
Less than you would think. I call Superheroes Anonymous a love letter to comic books, but the truth is, I didn’t actively start reading comics or set up a pull list or follow authors until several years after I wrote it. The second draft was written after I’d become a fan of the DeFractions and Marjorie Liu and G. Willow Wilson and Bendis, so I think I may have leaned a little more heavily on some comic book tropes in the final product? But the first draft, that was entirely my love of superhero movies and cartoons and osmosis from comics.

Interesting, really shows how far comic book tropes have spread into main stream media. While working on your second book did any of your characters surprise you? Or would you say when you start writing you have a pretty clear idea of how things will go?
I’m not one of those writers that says things like “The character told me this today!” because frankly, it all comes out of my head. But I think at times I was surprised by the twists my brain came up with and the direction the story took. I’m not a seat of the pants writer; generally before I kick off into a project, I have an idea of major scenes without any idea what connections will arise between them. The fun of writing, and the most frustrating part of writing, is that puzzle game you play when you try to take the ideas in your head and to figure out the pathways between them. Hopefully in a clear and coherent manner, but that’s not always necessary. Sometimes I just like making extra work for my editor.
But yes, there were definitely times during the writing process of this book—which I wrote very, very quickly—where I surprised myself in both good and bad ways. And I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Well you seem to do well pulling those pieces together for the final product. Either that or your editor is amazing, and terribly underpaid. Lastly, since it’s likely getting close to your bed time, word has it that you enjoy ending your books on cliffhangers, what—
to be continued
Answer to be given next interview.


Thanks, Lexie, it’s been fun. *gives secret handshake* Good luck on your books and that whole Stan Lee/Cthulhu thing.
Lexie’s second book, Supervillains Anonymous will be available June 30th on ebook, and paperback shortly thereafter. If you enjoy comics, or just like action, sarcasm, or short women who can bench press small cars, you’ll love this book. You can also find out more about Lexie and send her adoring fan mail via her website http://www.dunnewriting.com/

Supervillains

New superhero Gail Godwin, the one and only Hostage Girl, is in big trouble: her nemesis Chelsea is loose, somebody close to her is dead, and everybody thinks Gail did it. To make matters worse, Davenport Industries has thrown her into a prison that just happens to be full of the very same supervillains who used to kidnap her on an almost daily basis.

Outside, things aren’t going all that great either. There’s a conspiracy that runs all the way to the bedrock of the superhero community, and it’s affecting everybody Gail loves. With her friends in the crosshairs, it’s up to her to escape and get to the bottom of things. Subterfuge, crime-fighting, and running away from everybody you know should be a cinch, right?

Wrong. Gail faces off against hero and villain alike just to stay alive, and you know what they say about supervillains. If you can’t beat them…join them.

Chicago Comic & Entertainment Expo (C2E2) 2015

As you might’ve heard via: Twitter, Facebook, this blog, word of mouth, or my sky writing campaign, I was at the Chicago Comic Con this year.

C2E2

I was invited to join in on a panel called “Out of this World!” It was a panel of science fiction authors, which made it doubly cool that I, a fantasy author, was invited to participate. The attendance hit a new record this year of 70,000, which I can only assume was because I was there. Two other Harper authors were there as well, Lexie Dunne (on my right) and Kelley Grant (on my left).Impulse

The panel was a lot of fun, with lots of audience participation. During which I got to meet Wesley Chu (who is insanely funny and a really nice guy) and Mike Shepherd (who might be the nicest man I’ve ever met). I also crossed paths with Naomi Novik again (I was on a panel with her in New York) and she even remembered me. That’s always an ego boost!

Like New York Comic Con, it was exhausting, but a lot of fun. The costumes were amazing! My personal favorite was in Attack on Titan gear, handmade no less.

Titan

Though without a doubt, the most original costume I saw was near the end.

Up

Yes, she’s the house from Up!

It was great to meet new readers, and I spent some time at the Anderson’s Bookshop table, who was supplying the books (and might still have some signed copies of both The Stolen and The Forgotten on hand). I met some readers, and even charmed a few people into buying some copies.

Charmer

But really, who could resist that face?

As was the case in New York, one of the best things about attending Cons is getting to meet authors. I got to meet Patrick Rothfuss who was incredibly gracious, and absolutely hysterical on his panel.

Rothfuss

For me though, the highlight was getting to meet one of my all time favorite authors, Jim Butcher. I admit, I geeked out a little when I found out he was going to be there. Then I found out he would be signing immediately after me, at the same table. After some reaching out of my people to his people (yes, as it turns out I do in fact have people, who knew?) I was told he would be happy to meet me between signings.

Butcher1Butcher2

We’re totally BFFs now. That was a joke, Jim.

He was incredibly down to earth, gracious, and friendly. He also accepted the signed copy of The Stolen I brought for him, with the page number noted of my nod to Harry Dresden. Like when I met John Scalzi, I was blown away by how friendly and approachable he was. He’s a bestselling author, had a TV show made out of his series (which is actually how I discovered it), and yet he took a few minutes out of what had to be an insane schedule to talk with me. Class act.

Overall, it was amazingly fun. I look forward to doing more Cons (if my editor or publicist is reading this, hint, hint), though I’m okay with them being spaced out. If you get the chance to attend, do it. Attend some panels, and if there are authors there, pick up their books and get them signed. You might not like them, sure, but you might just find a new favorite, and on behalf of us authors not quite to the level of Rothfuss, Scalzi, or Butcher, we appreciate it more than you can imagine.

Hobbes and Bacon

Something for everyone this Thanksgiving (in the United States). I’m a big fan of Calvin and Hobbes, have been since I was a kid. Like most fans, I dearly miss the rumbustious kid. There are countless, well, let’s call them tribute pieces, out there. Some are aren’t so good, others are excellent. Here’s one such example of the latter I enjoyed too much not to share. If you click on each of the four strips, it will take you to original posting of each (www.pantsareoverrated.com is the parent web page).

There’s room for debate about the benefit of showing Calvin as a grown up. I enjoyed these specific cartoons, and some others I didn’t share, but the more I found and read, the more I realized how important it is that Calvin stays six-years-old forever. He represents the child in us all, the one that can’t, and shouldn’t, ever grow up. Especially for those moments when you want to be creative, you need to let your own Calvin run wild, or Spaceman Spiff, or Tracer Bullet (the PI), or Stupendous Man. When you’ve written something you really love, and you’re really proud of, odds are it was the six-year-old inside you running free.

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