Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Guest Blogger: Joe Sergi, Author of Sky Girl and the Superheroic Adventures

Being a teenage girl is hard enough, but for DeDe Christopher, it is proving impossible.

In addition to cliques, books, and boys, she has to worry about capes, apes, and aliens. Last year, DeDe discovered that she possessed fantastic abilities that were strangely similar to those of a comic book character named SkyBoy.

With the help of her best friend Jason, a self-professed comic geek, DeDe accepted her legacy and became Sky Girl. Now, DeDe must learn what it means to be a heroine as Sky Girl faces the all too real enemies and allies of SkyBoy, including the clever Quizmaster, the beautiful Penny Pound, the enigmatic Jersey Devil, and the magical MissTick.

DeDe must also face personal challenges as she discovers the secrets of her late father and his connection to Skyboy--secrets that will affect Sky Girl’s destiny.



Contraction Inaction, What Is Your Reaction?

By Joe Sergi, Author of Sky Girl and the Superheroic Adventures, from Martins Sisters Publishing

Sky Girl and the Superheroic Adventures is the stand-alone sequel to Sky Girl and the Superheroic Legacy, which introduced DeDe Christopher. DeDe is an ordinary teen with the extraordinary destiny to become Sky Girl. In the first book, DeDe discovered that she possessed fantastic abilities that were strangely similar to those of a comic book character named SkyBoy. With the help of her best friend Jason, a self-professed comic geek, DeDe accepted her legacy and became Sky Girl at the end of her sophomore year of high school. In the new book, DeDe must learn what it means to be a heroine as Sky Girl faces the all too real enemies and allies of SkyBoy, including the clever Quizmaster, the beautiful Penny Pound, the enigmatic Jersey Devil, and the magical MissTick. DeDe must also face personal challenges as she discovers the secrets of her late father and his connection to SkyBoy--secrets that will affect Sky Girl’s destiny. Each adventure stands on its own but is also part of a larger plot and expands on the mystery of what happened to DeDe's father and Evil Brain's plot for world domination. Basically, high school is hard, but in addition to cliques, books, and boys, she has to worry about capes, apes, and aliens. Most importantly, you don't really need to read the first book to enjoy the second.

However, today, I don’t want to talk about Sky Girl as a lot of my interviews focus on her. Instead, I want to talk about her best friend, Jason. More particularly, I want to talk about his diction.  Jason uses perfect English and doesn’t use contractions, which really irks people and editors because they believe it sounds stifled.  Allow me to say this definitively. Jason’s dialogue is intentional. 

They say inspiration comes in strange ways.  For Jason, it came, fittingly, from my experience at the New York ComicCon.  The organizers had oversold the show and the fire marshal had stopped letting people in.  Locked out, I sat on the floor to work on an early draft of Sky Girl.  Instead, I found myself people watching.   

I noticed all of the great shirts that people were wearing and immediately knew that Jason was going to wear a different geek shirt every day.  This allowed for some great inside jokes.  In the first book, the shirts are relatively straightforward with things like “Han shot first!” and “Frak!” In the second book, he wears: “Amberzombie and Witch,” “You can’t have manslaughter without laughter.” and “Honk if you are going to hit me!” and adds a few others to his collection. At shows, when I sign the book, I try to draw different character sketches in the cover.  As expected, Jason’s shirts are always different in his.

But, going back in time to that New York ComicCon, something else caught my eye while sitting on that floor.  A fan with a wheeling cart full of books to be signed was getting irate about being kept off the floor.  He started by calmly talking to the marshal, but soon was yelling at everyone.  But, no matter how excited he got, his grammar never deteriorated, he never used a contraction, and he emphasized every syllable (think Sinatra in the younger days.)  There are other people who talk similarly, but this guy was incredible.

“This is not very fair!”

“I do not know why we cannot go in.”

“I cannot believe this.  You are not very nice, kind sir.”

The entire rant was awkward, stilted, and uncomfortable. Most of all, it was perfect--Jason had his voice.  I took out every one of Jason’s contractions.  I read the sentences out loud stressing each syllable. In my head he spoke like Frank Sinatra sings, stressing each and every syllable.

Every editor who looked at the book tried to change Jason’s dialogue.  But, like Jason’s inspiration, I would not back down.  I even added lines of dialogue about the awkwardness of Jason’s diction. 

So, if you pick up either of the Sky Girl books, I hope you don’t think, “No one really talks like that.” Instead, I hope you remember my story. In fact, Jason’s dialogue is some of the hardest to write in the book because of the conscious effort it takes to not use contractions.

Thanks for letting me explain Jason’s quirks.  Sky Girl and the Superheroic Adventures is available at all online booksellers and can be ordered in brick and mortar shops and chains. It is also available directly from the publisher at www.martinsisterspublishing.com. I will have copies at upcoming show appearances, some of which include: Baltimore ComicCon (September 7-8); The Collingswood Book Festival (October 5), New York ComicCon (October 10-13), and the Festival of the Book (October 19). 


Joe Sergi lives outside of Washington, DC with his wife and daughter. Joe is an attorney and a Haller Award winning author who has written articles, novels, short stories, and comic books in the horror, scifi, and young adult genres. Joe is the creator of the Sky Girl series of novels and the editor of Great Zombies in History. His first novel, Sky Girl and the Superheroic Legacy was selected Best of 2010 by the New PODler Review. Joe is a life-long comic fan who regularly writes on the history of comics and censorship for the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund. A complete list of Joe’s titles is available at www.JoeSergi.net. When not writing, Joe works as a Senior Litigation Counsel in an unnamed US government agency and is a member of the adjunct faculty at George Mason University School of Law.