Author Interview: Wesley King on Superheroes, Age-Appropriate Editing in Publishing, and more!

Hey, everyone!

Today we’re talking to Wesley King, author of “The Vindico”. The superhero genre in YA/MG is starting to come back big time, so I decided to talk to him about that, “The Vindico”, and more in our (long overdue) conversation/interview.

No spoilers in this interview, so have no fear. See what King has to say about a whole lot of things after the jump!

USAGI: Hey, Wesley. Thanks for talking with us today. So, let’s get started! Why superheroes? While it’s true that MG/YA lacks superheroes at the moment, it seems like the sub-genre is starting to come back with books like yours, “Dark Star”, and “Fangirl”, which will be published later this year.

WESLEY KING: I’d like to say that I analyzed market trends and subsequently predicted the recent return of superhero fare, but really I just wrote a book about superheroes because I always wanted to be one. Correction: want to be one. And then I found myself writing for kids, probably because I still want to be a superhero and ipso facto never grew up anyway.


The handsome author, Wesley King.

U: You have a lot of main characters – five, to be exact. What made you decide to have more than one or two, and why?

WK: The characters kind of just developed on their own. There were actually two more main characters in the first draft I submitted to my editor, but she wisely indicated that I might be pushing it. I’m not much a planner. I sit down and write a story that makes me happy, and then hope it makes someone else happy while I’m at. Groups make me happy. I like dialogue and interplay and developing friendships.
U: You talked to me before about why this book got kicked down to the MG/young YA age group, but I’d love to hear about what the process was with your editor about it, if possible. Was it too many words you can’t use in certain age group genres? More than just the awesome-sounding bar scene?

WK: There were a few problem areas. Definitely some age-appropriate words, and the whole drinking aspect caused some issues. Underage drinking is way less acceptable than violence for children’s books. If Katniss had a few beers in that arena, Hunger Games would be an adult novel. Actually, even the age of the characters has to be addressed. If you don’t have characters that are the same age as the target genre, it gets bumped up. So we made a conscious decision to edit The Vindico for the younger YA and potentially MG crowd, because I wanted a story about superheroes to be accessible for all ages.  And while that resulted in some changes, it’s also resulted in a lot more young readers that are really loving the novel. The moral of this story is that your editor is always right.


U: What are your plans for book two?

WK: Book two is actually written and edited, and will be released in June 2013! It’s called The Feros, and it of course follows the development of our protagonists while beginning to explore the darker sides of The League of Heroes. It also incorporates more of the mystery elements that I love in great YA/MG fiction.


U: How many books/novellas/etc are planned for the series, in general?

WK: I’ve planned six, though that may change as I develop the next few. I love the Harry Potter model, where we grow with the characters, and I want to do the same for mine.


“The Vindico” – where “X-Men” meets “Breakfast Club”.

U: What is the timeline for the book – is it just weeks, or months, that the characters go through everything at the Vindico mansion?

WK: Just over a month, actually. I’m glad you asked. I purposefully kept the timeline relatively vague throughout the story, because I wanted to convey the fact that the protégés really didn’t have a clear sense of time either. A month can feel like years or days when you have no perception of time, depending on what you’re doing. I know when I’m on vacation or at a cottage or somewhere where I don’t keep track of time, everything seems different. You make friends faster. You grow. You ask questions. Everything happens at a different speed.
U: You’re making a soundtrack for the book. You get only eight tracks. Make them count! What are they?

WK: Great question. Also very difficult. Here goes:

  1. Rest of my Life – Less Than Jake (I just love this song and it’s underused)
  2. Some Nights – FUN (Just for the “I still don’t know what I stand for” line)
  3. The World at Large – Modest Mouse (Great driving song)
  4. Everybody’s Changing – Keane (For obvious reasons)
  5. Glycerine – Bush (For a self-reflective montage)
  6. I Believe I Can Fly – Me First and the Gimme Gimmes (Motivational moments)
  7. I Can’t Help Myself – The Four Tops (This song just makes me happy)
  8. I Summon You – Spoon (Also great driving song; will use for flying instead)


U:  DC or Marvel – and why?

WK: Definitely Marvel. I’ve just always connected with their characters. I was a big X-men fan growing up, as you might have guessed, and rarely followed The Justice League. I think Batman epitomized DC for me; it was too dark, too dreary, and too serious. I want my heroes to be witty and kind of jerks. Wolverine is still my favourite superhero.


U: Favorite Superhero-themed movie?

WK: In a classic case of hypocrisy, I do think Nolan’s Batman series is the best superhero series of all time. But despite that, my favourite is probably still the first X-Men. I was a huge fan, so it was just awesome to see it on the big screen.


U: Finally, what is your message to your readers with this book (if there is one)?

WK: Beneath all the superpowers, long-standing grudges, and battle scenes, this book is about a group of very different kids overcoming those differences and becoming friends. If young readers take anything away from this, I hope it’s the fact that it’s just way more fun to be nice to everybody. There are probably all kinds of awesome Emily’s and Sam’s hanging out around you.


U: Thanks for talking to us today, Wes! “The Vindico” is out now, and book two will be out next summer from Penguin/Viking Juvenile. I know I can’t wait for it. Definitely give this series a chance, guys. I think that with time and development, it’ll turn out to be really awesome.


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