Thursday, November 01, 2012

"Blow up the other universe." Once you think of it, that's the solution to EVERYTHING! (10 1/2 questions with author P.T. Dilloway).

Magic!  Gangland massacres!  Battles atop skyscrapers! Hot girls... where was I, again?

I'm talking, of course, about A Hero's Journey, the first book in what I'm sure is going to be a longrunning series, and then a bunch of movies, and then a reboot of the movies, and then a novelization of the reboot of the movies, and then a cartoon that everyone will agree was better than the movies but I won't be able to find it on TV because I don't know how to use the remote, and finally, will be repackaged into a collector's edition with faux leather covers and include a plush toy based on the Black Dragoon.

... where was I, again?

A Hero's Journey, by P.T. Dilloway, is the world's introduction to the Scarlet Knight, who I like to call the world's newest/oldest superhero.  The Scarlet Knight in this book is Dr. Emma Earl, a child prodigy who's just begun her new job at a prestigious museum, but can't settle into a new life of hanging out with her hunky co-workers because a mysterious black package turns out to be the tools necessary to re-create an ages-old villain, the "Black Dragoon," and the fact that the Dragoon has begun marauding again causes Emma to get the call to don a suit of magical armor and become The Scarlet Knight, who, as it turns out, is responsible for protecting humanity from the Dragoon in a war against evil that goes back to the earliest days of mankind.

A Hero's Journey manages to be both inventive and comfortingly familiar at the same time: Dilloway takes many of the familiar superhero tropes we know and love -- gangland bosses, a sidekick, the hero's needing to learn her new powers-- and puts a twist on them.  The mafia here is run by a beautiful woman; the sidekick is a sarcastically grumpy wizard's ghost.  The cast of characters is incredible, and Dilloway does an excellent job introducing them and managing them through a story that continually surprises the reader, never heading quite where one would expect.

I heartily recommend A Hero's Journey; it's one of those rare books that I liked so much I would actively try to find time to read it, as opposed to just waiting until I had a spare moment.  And at $2.99 on your e-reader, it's not going to set you back too much.

As I like to do, I sent Dilloway 10 1/2 questions: Three questions about the book, three questions about himself, three questions I just felt like asking him, plus an impossible-to-answer question and a half-question for him to finish and answer.

Let's see what he's like!

3 questions about the book:

1.                  You lean heavily on the realistic aspect of the Scarlet Knight's superpowers: she has trouble learning to jump from building to building, and the invisibility power conferred by the cape hampers her movements.  What was purpose in doing that?

I just don’t like when superheroes have too much power.  Superman is the best example of this.  Over the years they’ve made him so powerful he can lift continents and turn the Earth backwards and so forth.  If the hero becomes that powerful then it’s really hard to believe anyone can stop him/her.  So the Scarlet Knight has vulnerabilities to keep her grounded.  And really until the last book in the series she never gains any new powers.  She does get better at the jumping, though.

2.  Although ostensibly a superhero book, the underpinnings of much of the heroism are actually magic, as opposed to scientific, explanations; is that meant to be a deliberate contrast with Emma's profession as a scientist?

I don’t think it was really deliberate so much as one of those happy accidents that occurs.  It is kind of funny that she’s spent her whole life studying the rational world and then she finds out there’s this whole other world she’s never seen before with witches, wizards, gods, and potions made up of plants she’s never heard of before.

3.  Don Vendetta made what amounts to a cameo appearance in this book, but seems to be a fascinating character.  What's her backstory, and will we see more her in future books?

My “V” entry in the A to Z last April focused on the Vendetta crime syndicate.  The short version is that Lydia “Don” Vendetta was supposed to be the trophy wife of the original don but then he dies in an “accident” and she takes over.

The don appears in the rest of the books, though she’s not usually that integral to the plot.  She’s just the one who runs things behind the scenes for the most part, until she finally gets what’s coming to her.

3 questions about the author:

4.  WHY THE BULLDOG?  Are you a fan of the university? Of bulldogs? Of grumpiness?

Growing up I’ve always been grumpy.  My brother had more the thing for bulldogs, which maybe infected me by osmosis.  We also from 1989-2002 had a dog that was half-bulldog and half-collie.

Then in 2010 I think it was, Butler University made a big run in the Final Four and on the Web pictures started to turn up of their mascot Blue II, who would run around at games with a giant bone.  Just for the heck of it then I used Blue II as my avatar on Wordpress.

It was Michael Offutt who commented in a post that I shouldn’t be such a grumpy bulldog but hey I’m grumpy and I like the bulldog, so it seemed to make sense to put them together.

5.  Judging by the copious amounts of reviews you post, you spent 102% of your time reading.  What is the WORST book you've ever read, and why?

On my old Wordpress blog I had a tournament to determine that one year.  I decided on The Mermaid That Came Between Them.  It was just a godawful book about a guy who gets molested by a mermaid when he’s five and then spends the rest of his life wanting to screw mermaids.  He finally gets the chance, except his son also wants to screw the mermaid.  The whole thing was so gross and written so badly that I threw the book against the wall.  It actually knocked some of the drywall off the corner of the wall.

6.  You seem very interested in sports; did you ever play any, or want to?

When I was in second grade we had this project where someone else outlined our bodies on big pieces of construction paper and then we had to color in our outline with what we wanted to be when we grew up.  Mine was a Tigers player.  That was in the 80s when the Tigers were good, having won the World Series a year or two before.  I would have liked to be a shortstop like Alan Trammell, but by the time I played Little League it was evident I had no talent.  In the 90s I stopped following the team for a while but got back into it once they moved into the new ballpark in 2000 and briefly got slightly better.

At the same time in the late 80s the Pistons had back-to-back championships and the Lions had a few good years with Barry Sanders and then in the late 90s the Red Wings won a couple of Stanley Cups.  Michigan won a national title in football in 1997 and Michigan State won the men’s basketball tournament in 2000, so that probably helped to keep me interested, though never interested enough to memorize stats or anything like that.

3 questions about things I feel like asking about:

7.   Having recently had your life saved by a stranger, what ONE THING do you think everyone in the United States can do that would instantly improve our society?

What most of us could do is try to not drive like morons.  Most every day I see some jerk or another who just about creates a ten-car pileup just so he can get somewhere five seconds sooner.  Or people who are too busy yapping on the cell phone to pay attention to the road.  At the very least, can’t they get a Bluetooth or something so they aren’t holding the phone to their ear with one hand?  There’d be a lot less stress and more lives saved if people just didn’t act stupid behind the wheel.

8.  If you could give some advice to Thanksgiving on how to avoid the constant encroachment on its turf by Christmas, what would it be?

It should probably just move.  Maybe move it back to August where there aren’t any holidays.  Then people have another excuse in the summer to take a day off and eat too much.  Though just out of habit people might start Xmas shopping the next day, which would prolong the shopping season even more.

9.  Do you think Calvin was just IMAGINING that Hobbes came alive, or do you believe that Hobbes really was alive when nobody else was around?

I never really followed any comic strips.  Growing up in the age of TV and then the Internet, I’ve rarely read newspapers.  All I know about Calvin is that he likes to pee on a lot of stuff from all those window stickers I see on people’s cars.

The Impossible Question:
10.  The kilogram is shrinking!  As you probably know, there is THE KILOGRAM, a piece of platinum held under special neutral conditions in France, and that kilogram serves as the universal measure for all other kilograms in the world, thereby creating a standard weight that all countries can use so that things like shipping containers, payloads on rockets, and medicines, are accurately measured.  Recently, it was discovered that The Kilogram has shrunk, losing an amount of atoms equivalent to a fingerprint, and scientists cannot explain why.   What is your theory for why the kilogram is shrinking?
Magic!  Or it’s like that episode of Star Trek:  Voyager where there are two parallel Voyagers, but they’re using the same dilithium supply, which creates a problem until they blow up one of the ships.  Which is also similar to Offutt’s Slipstream book, I think.  Anyway, so the solution would be to blow up the other parallel universe that’s mooching off our kilogram.

And the 1/2 question: Finish, then answer, this question:

11.  Will the head chef at McDonald's...
Ever become self-aware and decide to enslave humanity?  Because really, no human can possibly be in charge of creating McDonald’s food.  It has to be some kind of supercomputer that has no concept of taste.


So I obviously disagree with PT about that last one, since McDonald's Cheeseburgers might possibly be humanity's highest achievement, ever (and yes, I have considered other great achievements, like The George Baker Selection before saying that).

But that's for another day.  For now, buy A Hero's Journey on

Solstice Publishing's site,

or at the Amazon Kindle store, 

and visit PT's blog, where he writes about superheroing in his own inimitable way.  (Grumpily.  I mean he writes about it in a grumpy way.)




PT Dilloway, Superhero Author said...

Thanks for the interview! Really the solution is always to blow something up.

PT Dilloway, Superhero Author said...

BTW, Marlin would take offense at being called a "sidekick." He would insist he's the Keeper of the Lore for the Order of the Scarlet Knight and then go on about the thousands of Scarlet Knights he's trained over the years.

Michael Offutt, Tebow Cult Initiate said...

Excellent interview. I always like to peek behind the curtain at a writer's process. All kidding aside, P.T. is a great writer and I like how he comes up with his stories, plots, and characters.

Andrew Leon said...

I wonder if platinum has some kind of half life. Or if someone is coming by everyday and scratching it trying to get a gram or so to sell.

And PT's answer about drivers is why I'm all for robotic cars.

Briane P said...

Maybe the Scarlet Knight is the sidekick?

Andrew: I'm about halfway through "The Disappearing Spoon" which is about the periodic table of the elements, and that's how I first heard about The Kilogram. They didn't mention a half-life, although I suppose anything is possible. Radioactive platinum... sounds like the kind of thing that would be incorporated into a future Scarlet Knight story.

PT Dilloway, Superhero Author said...

"Maybe the Scarlet Knight is the sidekick?"

That's how Marlin would see it.

Liz said...

Why I hate driving: other drivers.

I had not heard the kilogram thing. Interesting.

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