Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Interview with James mascia

Welcome to Jagged Edge!
Would you like to tell us a little about yourself?
No. :] Just kidding.

I am both a writer and a teacher. I have a bachelors degree in Creative Writing from SUNY New Paltz and a masters degree in Education from Dowling College. Though I was born in New York, I currently live in Maryland, where I teach high school and college. Now, that’s all for the boring stuff.

I love superheroes, and have ever since I am a little kid. I love movies, and pretty much go to see one at least once a week. I write just about every day after school is out, coming up with insane new adventures for the characters I’ve created. I love to joke around and am very sarcastic, which comes out in some of the characters in the stories I write.

How excited were you when you first received a publish copy?
So excited that I don’t think I could put it into words. It came in a large box from my publisher with 25 copies of High School Heroes. Also packaged was a poster with the book’s cover on it, and some other little goodies my publisher decided to throw in. It was such a great feeling to see I’d finally accomplished something I’d dreamed of for so long.

What inspired you to write?
I’ve always been inclined to write, but as a child I was always stubborn and wanted to be something more exciting like an actor, or an artist, or even a movie director. As you can see, no matter what, I always leaned more toward the creative fields rather than business or technical ones (numbers scare me sometimes). I would like to say I knew when I was just a little boy at age 4 or 5 when I wrote my first “book”. The book was calledGarfield Takes a Bath, and I’m sure if you ask my mother, she still has it laying around somewhere. I wrote and illustrated it. So, I should have known, but alas, I did not.

Then, in high school, I should have known then I wanted to be a writer. Oh, I discovered I wanted to write, but that’s not the same as wanting to be a writer. One fine day, sitting in my school’s suspension room, I decided to not do the work my teachers had sent for me and instead read a book. It was at that instant that I said, I can do this, I want to write things. And yet, when I applied to colleges two years later, I still applied for the art and film schools.

However, like almost all college bound students, I was two years into my school, having taken absolutely no media classes, but quite a few writing classes, I decided to switch my major from Film Directing to Creative Writing. And I’ve pretty much called myself a writer ever since.

The moral of the story is: Sometimes you need to be kicked in the pants a couple of times before you realize your true calling. 
What authors influenced you as a writer?
Kevin J. Anderson. He is most well known nowadays for his work on the continuing story of Dune. But when I first read one of his books, I was on in school suspension from school for being obnoxious in my classes, and I’d brought the latest Star Wars Book with me. While reading it, I decided then and there that one of the things I wanted to do with my life was write. The story was so detailed and left such vivid images in my head that the words literally formed a movie in my mind. So after that day, I focused a good deal of my time creating stories. The result is almost fourteen years later, getting my first book published.

Your favorite character?
See, I don’t know if you mean in my books or just in general. If you mean in general, I have 3, which we can call my own personal Trinity. Yoda, Gollum and Dobby. These three characters are just awesome, and always entertain me. I guess I’m just into the whole tiny Muppet-like characters, because all three certainly fill that description.

For my own characters, Christine is my favorite by far, which is probably why High School Heroes is done from her point of view. Christine has a way of seeing the world that is just so unique, since she can hear the thoughts of everyone around her. She also isn’t afraid to tell people what she thinks, and I admire her for that.

What is your favorite Quote?
“Believing oneself to be perfect is often the sign of a delusional mind.” – Data, Star Trek: First Contact

The reason I love this quote so much is because we have to realize we aren’t perfect, and anyone who calls themselves perfect is likely just a bit crazy. This can translate to the characters we writer’s create too. You can’t have a character that’s too perfect, because then you’re just asking for trouble.

What is one book everyone should read?
Well, High School Heroes, of course. It is only the greatest book ever written in the history of humankind.

Okay, fine, I guess you could read the Percy Jackson series too. The reason why I say this is, Greek Mythology is all around us, it’s in today’s literature (though well hidden), it’s in movies and television too. You don’t realize how many stories are based upon some Ancient Greek story. What Percy Jackson does is take many of these old tales about the gods and the heroes, and spins them to be more modern, while not at all hiding the fact that they are indeed Greek Myths. It is a great way to familiarize yourself with many of the myths and it’s a great way to introduce kids to these stories as well. Pick up one of the books and read it. You won’t be disappointed.

If you could jump in to a book, and live in that world, which would it be?
Ooooh, I like this question. This kind of ties into the “what superpower would you want” question I always get, because this is one of the superpowers I wish I had, being able to jump in and out of books.

I don’t know if I could choose just one world. I mean, I’d jump right into any Star Wars or Star Trek book. I’d love to visit Hogwartz, but I can apparently do that now at Universal Studios. I could easily live in the world of Middle-Earth from Lord of the Rings, and wouldn’t mind visiting Diskworld from Terry Pratchett. Neil Gaimon gave us the world of Stardust which would also be an awesome choice.

So, anyway, to finally answer the question, if I had to choose one of these. I would choose Metropolis. Yes, that Metropolis. Just for the chance to meet Superman, I think it would be worth living in a city that gets half-destroyed every other week. It would be awesome!

What is the one thing that every writer needs to have or do?
Well, the first thing every writer needs to do is write, of course. What does a writer need? I guess a good computer, a notebook to jot ideas into, and a brain that will do thinking you didn’t know you could do. A writer really needs a brain that can dream. It will come up with ideas for you and you won’t even realize it. So, go out to the store and get yourself a good dreaming-brain like that!

Are your books different to your personal favorite books by other authors?
Yes, I think they are. Before I started writing High School Heroes, there really wasn’t a superhero genre for books, unless of course they were graphic novels. So, in that respect my books are very different. Since High School Heroes has been published, a bunch of superhero themed books have been published. But none of them deal with kids just trying to survive high school (as far as I know).

My favorite authors write mostly sci-fi and fantasy, so High School Heroes would fit in with these, but even modern fantasies don’t generally follow the same story-lines as my novels. My goal in the beginning was to make High School Heroes as much like a comic book as possible. I think I succeeded in that respect because to me at least, the novel is like a comic without the pictures.

What lead you to writing in this genre?
My absolute love and adoration of all things superhero. Superman, Batman, Spider-Man and the X-Men. These comics among a hundred others, led me to say, you can create cool superheroes too. And I think I have. Christine and her friends aren’t in the same league as some of these well known characters, but I think they are just as entertaining.

What inspires you the most when you write?
My own imagination. There is nothing more powerful than (as mentioned before) a dreaming-brain. It comes up with the ideas, and I just put them on paper.

How long does it normally take you to write a book?
The first draft of High School Heroes took me nearly eight months to complete. Then another five months to edit, so it was worthy of being published. A lot of people don’t realize that you can’t just write a story and be done with it. To make it good and publishable, you need to edit, edit, edit. I can’t tell you how much work it was to edit everything. I must have read the story about six times from beginning to end, to make sure everything was perfect.

What are you most excited about this year?
First, the release of the High School Heroes sequel, Camp Hero, which comes out in September 2011. Christine and her friends investigate an old military base called Camp Hero (which is a real place by the way, you should look it up), and they get into something way over their heads.

Second, we have a lot of great superhero movies coming up, and I’m most excited for the Green Lantern and Captain America movies. I’ve been waiting for them to do quality movies about both those characters for a looooooooooooong time.

What book do you wish to see come out as a movie?
(Sigh) Why do you ask questions you already know the answer to? High School Heroes, of course! I wish this book would be a movie in the worst possible way imaginable. There’s only one problem, I have to write a script first! And sadly, I am way out of practice writing scripts, so I kind of have to re-learn doing that.

Okay, other than my book, Stephen King’s Dark Tower series very much needs to be made into movies. Those would be great because it has such a rich and interesting story.
Funniest question you have ever been asked?
In an interview? I haven’t actually been asked many funny questions. So, I guess this particular question I am answering now could qualify.

Now, in real life, there are two questions that I can’t get over, and not because they’re all that funny, but because of how… well, how much they made me want to cry. I teach the 12th grade, and I have been asked the following 2 questions by my students: 1) “The United States has a capitol?” This one makes me cry because I teach in a school that is less than 20 miles from Washington D.C. and 2) “Isn’t there another country inside of California?”I’ll let you think of why this one makes me cry. Now, I teach writing and literature, so do not blame me. I find these questions funny in a sick sort of way, because these students are getting ready to graduate and when I tell people about these questions, it makes us all laugh. You be the judge.

What happened while writing one of your books that you did not expect?
My characters commandeered the book and did things I didn’t ask them to, nor want them to. I don’t know when I lost control of my own writing, but my characters essentially held the story hostage until they got what they wanted.

Do you read the review when they are good and/or bad?
I always read the reviews. And whether good or bad, it doesn’t bother me. Everyone is entitled to their opinion, and as much as I would like to write the “perfect” book that will please everyone, I am not delusional enough to think that is possible. I’m not thrilled with bad reviews like I am with good ones, but that’s part of the business. All I can hope for is that I get more good reviews than bad ones.

Was their a question you wish I would have asked but didn't?
What is the meaning of life? And of course, as anyone who has read The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy knows, the meaning of life is 42.

No comments:

Popular Posts