I want you all to meet Kitty Bucholtz, author of the awesome "Adventures of Lewis and Clarke" series and overall cool person. If you haven't read our review of her novel Unexpected Superhero, then you can catch up on that here. Now for the interview: Hi Kitty! Thank you so much for taking the time to do this. I have so many questions and am excited to have the opportunity to ask them. I’ve been describing Unexpected Superhero, the first novel in "The Adventures of Lewis and Clarke" series, as a Superhero Rom-Com, but it’s such a unique story that I’m not really sure if that’s the correct genre. What would you describe it as?
Hi Hannah! I love to chat with people about my books, so thanks for asking me to share with you. =)
You’re right, the Adventures of Lewis and Clarke series has elements of a couple different genres. I generally call it superhero urban fantasy since it’s a good vs. evil story in the big city, but to also differentiate it from the vampires, werewolves, and wizards in other urban fantasy. When I’m around romance readers, I tend to lean toward your own description – a superhero romantic comedy.
I’ve never read anything from that genre before. What made you decide to go with something so unique?
The idea first came to me when I was irritated with my husband for not hanging out with me on the weekend. Haha! He wanted to play Xbox, look through his comics, and other things that didn’t interest me at the time. I thought, fine, I’ll make up my own superhero story! I wanted to use a married couple for the romance angle, but I wanted lots more action than a romance novel. The faith angle happened accidentally because I like writing stories where the heroine has some of the same struggles I do. One idea led to another, morphed and changed some more, and eventually it became Unexpected Superhero.
One of my favorite aspects of this book was all of the geek references: you throw out the names of several comic books and superheroes, allude to Star Wars, and mention Mulder and Scully (I almost fell out of my chair at that point). Have you always been a fan of nerd stuff, or is that something that has grown over the years?
When I was a kid, the only comic books anyone ever gave me were the Archie comics and Richie Rich. So I thought that’s what comic books were. But I watched The Incredible Hulk, The Six-Million-Dollar Man, The Bionic Woman, and on Saturday mornings Isis and Shazam! So I was a total geek when it came to TV shows even as a kid, and that’s continued with The X-Files, Supernatural, Fringe, the new Netflix Daredevil and so much more. I didn’t know until about ten years ago that comic books could be interesting to me. My first, and still my favorite, is Kingdom Come. I was probably born both a nerd and a geek, and it’s just kept growing with time. Haha!
When did you first start writing books, and what made you decide to go into this crazy profession?
Haha! Good question! My mom said I was born talking, and I can’t remember not telling stories to try to make people laugh or gasp. My grandma was always asking, “Are you fibbing?” Then my mom had me start writing stories on a chalkboard at home. Then she had me write them on paper. By the time I was in college, I even convinced my “Intro to Computers” instructor to let me write a story instead of a paper for my final. He warned me I’d have to include everything from the whole semester. So I wrote about how Saint Peter computerized Heaven so there wouldn’t be a line at the Pearly Gates. I got an A. I didn’t know how to make writing stories a paying job, but it was always something I hoped would happen.
Writers are influenced from everything in their whole lives coming together in the melting pot of their subconscious. The title is, of course, a take off on the TV series “Lois and Clark.” The married couple, Tori and Joe, were born out of my own marital adventures as well as all the TV couples that we half-hope will get together – Mulder and Scully of “The X-Files,” Rick and Kate of “Castle,” even Cybill Shepherd and Bruce Willis’ characters on “Moonlighting.” I love how the Spider-Man movies combined lots of action and lots of romance. That’s what I wanted to do, in that order.
One of my all-time favorite scenes in Unexpected Superhero is the part where Tori discovers her powers and immediately visits a comic book store to do some “research” on superheroes. Does that reflect your own researching process? What did you do to prepare for writing in the superhero genre?
LOL! That’s one of my favorite scenes, too! And it does represent some of my first thoughts upon entering comic book stores as an adult. Despite one reviewer suggesting that I must never have read any of the comics I mention in that scene because of Tori’s reaction to them, I have read at least a few pages of everything I mention, and many of those reactions are my own. Haha! My writing research was almost entirely asking my husband questions, him taking me to comic book stories and explaining things, and reading his comics that he pulled out of his collection for my research. Eventually I started buying my own comics. I just bought a new Nightcrawler graphic novel last week! I love Nightcrawler because he’s so good and he’s very concerned about what God thinks of him.
Your books are easily some of the most professionally-done self-published books around. What made you decide to go indie?
Thank you for the compliment! I work hard to make that happen. As you mentioned earlier, my stories don’t fit easily into this genre or that one. I had an agent for a few years, and we got some great feedback from editors who loved how I wrote but couldn’t figure out how to sell my stories in a bookstore. I first tried writing for Christian publishers, but I couldn’t write even the somewhat tame sex scenes Tori and Joe have, and my characters were certainly not allowed to say “hell” or “damn” or “s**t.” But I wanted to write about people like me – I love Jesus, but I know I say “s**t” too much even though I try to say “crap.” =)
The mainstream publishers couldn’t sell my books because there was too much “religion” in them. For me, Tori and Joe and their friends are a realistic representation of the people I know and love and hang around with. So when Amazon introduced Kindle Direct Publishing, I wanted to try it. The geek in me loved the idea of doing all that tech stuff, and the professional perfectionist in me wanted to learn and do whatever was necessary to make the books look as professional as any in a Barnes & Noble.
From the moment you started writing Unexpected Superhero to its public release, how long did it take to complete? Were there any unforeseen kinks in the process?
Oh dear me, talk about kinks! I still had my agent when I wrote the first draft (in about four months) and she didn’t like it. She gave me notes, which required a page-one rewrite (I had to completely start over), but she didn’t think she could sell that version either. After we amicably parted, I set the book aside for a while. When I came back to it, I read everything I’d written and made notes about what I liked best in both versions. Then I started over again. I sent that third version to a contest hosted by Harper Voyager, and when it didn’t get picked up, I self-published it within about four months. I started the first page of the first idea in February 2006, and published the final version, what you read, on May 31, 2013.
I love the fact that this series is called “The Adventures of Lewis and Clarke.” This may be a really dumb and obvious question, but are their names a spinoff of Lois Lane and Clark Kent?
When I was in school, I loved reading about all the explorers of the Americas, and the duo Lewis and Clark stuck with me. When I was making lists of names for this book, I think I named Tori Lewis first. I knew I wanted the hero to be an everyday, average Joe, so I put down “Joe” intending to change it later. I just never did and it stuck. When trying to decide on Joe’s last name, I remembered the adventurers Lewis and Clark, thought of the TV show “Lois and Clark,” and had an ah-ha moment. Marriage is an adventure, and learning to do what you’re meant to do is an adventure, and I could allude to both with this title. I added an “e” to “Clark” to differentiate it a little.
Say Joss Whedon calls and says he wants to turn your book into a movie. What actress and actor would you want to play Tori and Joe?
LOL! Authors love to daydream about this! Since I used to work in TV and film and know how difficult it is to get a book turned into a movie, I rarely daydream about it happening, so I’m going to have to just guess right now. So just for fun, maybe Aubrey Dollar (currently in the “Battle Creek” TV show) as Tori, and Chris Pratt (Guardians of the Galaxy) as Joe. The two of them would be great at bringing out the humor and the romance and the action of the story. =)
Are there any other genres or story formats that you’ve been planning on trying, but haven’t gotten around to yet?
What I write first/next has a lot to do with which opportunities present themselves. My first book, Little Miss Lovesick, is a first-person romantic comedy (what used to be called chick-lit) that I wrote and published when I thought I was a romance writer. I’d like to write a few more of those because they’re fun and the plots are easier to write. I also have an unfinished series of third-person romantic comedies called The Strays of Loon Lake, about stray dogs and stray men and the women who find them and take them in. Haha! I’d planned to release those before Unexpected Superhero, but due to the Harper Voyager contest, the superhero book was done first.
Last month an editor showed interest in an urban fantasy I started in grad school called Burden of Magic. It’s about how the angel-demon war is affecting humanity, and how one girl is caught in the middle, forced to learn demon magic to be a weapon for one side or the other. I’m so excited to get back to this story! I’m trying to make it much scarier than anything else I’ve written, but also with some of my trademark humor. That’s what I’m working on now.
Okay, here’s the last and most important question of all: When is book 2 of the Lewis and Clarke series coming out? Can you give us a little hint as to what the plot will be, or is that a secret?
LOL! Authors are always so happy to hear readers say they want the next book. Right now, the story arc for the series is for five books (with extra short stories along the way). Life is going to get a little worse for the newlyweds with each book, and the villains are going to be more intent on bringing the heroes down. In book two, Superhero in the Making, Joe is teaching Tori how to be a superhero, but the beautiful villain Jade wants Joe for herself. All of Tori’s insecurities that you learned about in book one are going to be tested here, as well as Joe’s assumption that the good guys always win.
I’ve had a lot of “life problems” getting in the way of writing lately, but I hope to have Superhero in the Making out by the end of the year. I’ll keep you up-to-date on my web site, http://kittybucholtz.com. I’m also writing a short story about Bull and Hayley finally going on their first date. It’s a little “Hell’s Kitchen” with superheroes eating in the dining room. Haha!