Saturday, March 14, 2015

AUTHOR INTERVIEW: James Mascia


The Gal in the Blue Mask:
Hi, James.  Welcome to The Gal.  I must say that THAT is the BEST author picture I have had the honor of putting on here yet haha.
            Let's start this interview out with something easy: Tell us a little bit about yourself.

James Mascia:
My name is James Mascia.  I am an author, an artist and a teacher.  I write mainly stuff for younger readers (children through young adult), and being an avid comic book fan, many of my stories revolve around superheroes.  My first series was called High School Heroes, which I am currently finishing up, while I embark on my new project of creating "classic" sci-fi stories like those out of the 1930s-1950s.  I am married to my lovely wife, Shelley, who manages to put up with me.  We live in Maryland with our 2-year-old son, Jacen.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
What are five things most people don't know about you?

James Mascia:
Now, if I told you that, people would know, making this question paradoxical.  Because I told the things that people didn't know, then they would know, and if they did know, then I would need to come up with another five things they didn't know, thus creating an infinite loop.
            I shall, however, give you one item, I am the real-life embodiment of Sheldon Cooper.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
What is the first book you remember reading?

James Mascia:
I'm not sure how I should answer this one.  I remember reading Mickey and the Giant (Yes, the mouse) with my mother when I was young, along with the Curious George books and the Berenstein Bears.  But I think you are looking for something else.
            I read The Hobbit in the 4th or 5th grade.  This is the first real book I can remember reading on my own.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
What are you reading now?

James Mascia:
I recently finished the Ender's Saga (the original series, plus the Shadow books).  These books were beyond awesome and I am eagerly awaiting Orson Scott Cards promised book that will tie it all together and give a satisfying end to the story.  Unfortunately, the book was promised a few years ago now, so it is beginning to look like it's not going to happen.
            Currently, I am actually getting caught up on my comics.  I am reading Original Sin, a series by Marvel, along with the Superman: Earth One books.  Both are very good.  After I'm done with that, I have actually downloaded PDFs of a ton of Amazing Stories and Planet Stories (both vintage pulp sci-fi magazines).  I plan on going through those and reading the stuff I've never read before.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
What made you decide you want to write?  When did you begin writing?

James Mascia:
I wrote my first book when I was 3-years-old.  It was called "Garfield Takes a Bath."  Not only did I write this amazing story, but I illustrated it as well.  I know my mother still has this tucked away somewhere.
            When I was in the 4th grade, I wrote a book (it was fourteen handwritten pages) called "It's Monster Time."  In this story, I had two guys get transported back in time to fight Dracula and his monster minions.  I wrote two sequels to this story that same year.
            When I was in high school, for my class projects, instead of doing the typical boring stuff, like a poster, I would write scripts for me and my friends to perform.  I literally rewrote Shakespeare's Julius Caesar as a mafia movie, and Hamlet as a musical.
            So, needless to say, I have always been a writer, even from a young age.  I enjoyed creating stories and worlds.  I enjoy both art and writing, anything where I can start with a clean canvas and can make it anything I want.  So, it was only natural that one of my two careers (if you remember from before, I am also a teacher) be writing, and by extension of that, making graphic novels.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
Do you have a special place you like to write?

James Mascia:
I used to, but sadly, my office was converted into my son's bedroom when he was born.  So, I now sit on the couch with my laptop (when that same son lets me) and write.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
Do you have any quirks or processes that you go through when you write?

James Mascia:
Actually, I usually write the entire story out with pen and paper before I even go to the computer.  The handwritten one acts as the first draft, and then I edit, make additions and subtractions to the entire thing when I type it up.  It leads to a more polished piece in my opinion.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
What books have most inspired you?

James Masica:
All the books ... EVER!!!!
            Oh, I see by the look on your face you want an actual answer to this question.  Okay, I will start with the classics, H.G. Wells' The Time Machine, Tolkien's Lord of the Rings, Carroll's Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass, Lewis' Chronicles of Narnia would be among my classic inspirations.
            More modern - and this will require a story.  Believe it or not, when I left elementary school and entered middle school, I lost my love of reading.  The texts that we read in school I found juvenile and boring.  I mean, how can a student who read The Hobbit in 4th grade be expected to read The Cay or whatever we read in those grades (actually, from Middle School, the only books I can remember reading, mainly because these were the only ones I enjoyed, were The Many Adventures of Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and The Illustrated Man by Ray Bradbury - yes, I agree that both of those would be odd choices for an 8th grader, but my English teacher that year was beyond awesome and didn't read the conventional stuff).
            So, anyway, I stopped reading almost altogether at this time, because I could find no joy in it (score for the American Public Education System, right?).  So, it wasn't until I was in the 9th grade when I found  book that brought me back into the light.  Kevin J. Anderson wrote a trilogy of books for the Star Wars sAga called The Jedi Academy Trilogy.  I loved Star Wars, so I got these books and read them.  They were beyond awesome and got me to read again.  So, after that very long explanation, it was this book (or books, since it's a trilogy) that has probably most inspired me.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
Is there anything about writing you find most challenging?

James Mascia:
Being able to stop.  Seriously, once I get going, I want to keep going.  I also want the story to keep going, so many of my stories end, but they are also left open for more if I choose to do more with them in the future.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
What do you think makes a good story?

James Mascia:
The story needs to be interesting.  It needs to have a compelling plot that will keep the reader reading.  It should both follow the conventions of storytelling, but break them at the same time.  No one wants to read a story that follows a formula exactly.  They want to have a twist in it that will keep them guessing.
            Above all, I would say, however, that character is key.  If you have a very flat, boring character, this isn't something that anyone is going to be able to identify with.  Also, having a character that's too perfect (or too imperfect) is never a good thing.  Everyone has flaws in real life, characters in a good story should as well.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
Which, of all your characters, do you think is the most like you?

James Mascia:
I cannot answer that, because there is a little of me in every character.  In my High School Heroes series, Christine is a snarky, sarcastic girl - me; Ethan is an athlete, who also happens to be a comic book geek - me; Savannah flies off the handle when she gets angry - me.  In The Leviathan Chronicles, Joel is a man who feels like the world is against him - me (at times); Hal (will be coming in a future story) doesn't play by the rules - me!
            Yes, they differ from me in other ways, but each one of my characters is based on some aspect of my personality.  It makes it easier to get into those characters' heads and see what they are thinking.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
Why did you pick your particular genre?

James Mascia:
Superheroes and science-fiction - because I'm a geek and comic book nerd.  I always have been, and I always will be.  I write in these genres because it's what I know and it's what I enjoy.
            If you don't enjoy what you're writing, why are you writing?

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
What makes your books different form others out there in this genre?

James Mascia:
Well, for High School Heroes, at least when the first book was written and published, there was a lack of superhero fiction available that wasn't in comic book or graphic novel form.  So, I would like to say that I broke through this genre (superhero fiction) before there was a genre.
            As far as sci-fi goes, my books have more of a classic feel to them.  For instance, The Leviathan Chronicles feel more like the old Buck Rogers tales than anything more modern.  They are meant to feel like those old pulp magazine stories.  They are full of action, adventure, over the top villains with outlandish plots, and a twist that makes the reader go, "Ooooooooh."  They differ from these old stories, mainly in character.  The characters in those old pulp magazines were a little flat.  They had one goal and went for that goal.  Those old stories were more about the plot twist than any character development (think old Twilight Zone episodes, many of which were based on some of these old stories).  My stories focus on the characters.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
What is in your 'trunk'?

James Mascia:
All the dead bodies are in my trunk.  What I don't tell people is that all my characters are real people and to prevent them from suing me, I have them slain.
            For those of you who actually took that seriously, I will just say ... Bazinga!
            I have the plot for an epic (something that no one has truly written in the last century) that has been on the back burner for a while.  I will get it done eventually, but to write it will take more time and energy than I can devote to it at the moment.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
What can we expect from you in the future?

James Mascia:
Besides the final book in my High School Heroes series and the continued publications of The Leviathan Chronicles, I will also have a graphic novel coming out (once we get all the paperwork done).  I plan on doing some graphic novels that take classic stories (like those read in school's across the nation) and give them a twist as well.  An example would be my already published The Poe Murders which meshed many of Poe's stories and poems together into one giant murder mystery.  I am also working on a sci-fi/spy-thriller that takes place in the early 1950s and involves the UFO and Communist scares of the time.
            As you can see, I keep myself busy.

The Gal in the Blue Mask:
Thanks for stopping by, James.  This has been the BEST interview I have done to date.  One more thing before you go: Where can we find you?

James Mascia:
Thanks for your time.  It has been a great interview.



About the author:
He fights evil across the known universe and crushes them between his fingers (at least, he does this with his words).
            James Mascia is an accomplished writer with a bestselling series, High School Heroes, as well as a bestselling graphic novel, The Poe Murders.  He has always been a fan of sci-fi, and is glad to be delving back into the galaxy once again.
            James teaches in Maryland, where he also writes.  He has a lovely wife and a tiny terror (a two-year-old) driving him mad, but making him laugh.

About the book:
Still reeling from his wife's murder, Joel tries to escape the alien hunter and fulfill a promise he made to her.  Years of searching for the fabled planet, Aeprion, has left the space freighter captain torn between giving up the search or giving himself up to Kraxem, the alien hunter.
            When Kraxem and his minions attack Joel's ship again, he is forced into the nebula, where he'll have to do repairs.  Once their, his thoughts revert back to the final day of Kate's life and the promises that were made.  Learning to come to terms with her loss and release the guilt that he feels will be a hard battle to fight, but giving up will prove to be even more difficult and, perhaps, deadly.
            Steeling his resolve to forge on, Joel vows to find the fabled living planet before guilt devours his soul.

No comments: