Capes & Clockwork 2 Author Interview: Christopher Valin
As a way of celebrating the release of Capes & Clockwork: Superheroes in the Age of Steam, Volume 2, I’m interviewing some of the contributing authors.Today, we talk with Christopher Valin.
1. Tell us about yourself and how you got started writing.
My first stories came about when I was a kid and I started drawing my own comic books and comic strips. I really didn't think all that much about the fact that I was writing so much as giving myself something to draw. By the time I was a teenager, I was enjoying writing stories for high school and college classes, including a couple of short plays for a theater class I took. Then I started writing comic book scripts for a company that I was working for as an inker, and realized how similar they were to TV scripts. So I started writing spec scripts for TV shows like Deep Space Nine (which used to accept scripts from viewers back then), and then other shows.
From there I moved on to writing feature scripts, and started winning and doing well in contests. I had a script optioned, but the only thing I've ever had produced were shorts. Several years ago, I got the bug to write short stories, and had some published in anthologies (including Capes & Clockwork). Finally, I worked my way up to full-length books, starting with the expansion of my masters thesis into a history book, and earlier this year publishing a YA superhero novel called Sidekick: The Red Raptor Files - Part 1.
2. What genres do you prefer writing and why?
I tend to jump around a lot, but my favorite genres are sci-fi/space opera and superhero fantasy. I also enjoy steampunk, although I haven't written quite as many stories in that genre.
3. What drew you to Capes & Clockwork?
I've been a huge comic book/superhero fan my whole life, and I really enjoy steampunk, so when I saw a call for stories that were a mashup of those genres, I couldn't resist. It seemed like such a great idea that I had never thought about before.
4. Give us a quick blurb about your story?
"The Yellow Bird Mission" is an adventure in which Agent Eagle, a 19th Century government super-agent, is sent by President George Armstrong Custer to take out a Native American renegade who has escaped from federal custody. It's a sequel to "Blastbucket," the story that appeared in the first Capes & Clockwork.
5. Tell us about your hero and what drives them to be a good guy or gal?
Agent Eagle is a superhero who reluctantly works for the government out of a sense of duty, but at the same time has problems with authority, especially when he disagrees with his mission. He always tries to do what's right, even when it conflicts with his orders and could get him into trouble. But he stays on the job because he knows that if he doesn't, someone else will be given the suit and equipment, and that person may not share his desire to work for the greater good.
6. Were there challenges for you in writing a cross-over genre (steampunk and superhero)?
My main challenge was probably figuring out the alternate history of the world where my stories take place, and Custer survived the Last Stand and was elected president. But it was a fun challenge, considering I have a master’s degree in military history.
7. Who do you prefer writing? The heroes or the villains.
That's really a tough one. I guess it depends on the story. I generally write from the hero's point of view, but one of my favorite things I've written was a script for a super-villain story (before Despicable Me and Megamind came out).
Check out Christopher’s story, Yellow Bird Mission in Capes & Clockwork, Vol. 2
And his story, Blastbucket in the original Capes & Clockwork.