Today I am interviewing Tricia Reeks and Kyle Richardson, editors of the new superhero anthology, Behind the Mask: An Anthology of Heroic Proportions.
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DJ: Hey Tricia and Kyle! Thanks for agreeing to do this interview!
For readers who aren’t familiar with you, could you tell us a little about yourselves?
Tricia Reeks: I am the founder of Meerkat Press and the editor of Love Hurts: A Speculative Fiction Anthology. I recently transplanted from Atlanta to a mountainside in Asheville, North Carolina where me, my husband and my two ferocious French bulldogs do our best to stay out of the way of the bears and wild-turkeys. I am a lover of great stories and can’t complain that my job at Meerkat Press is finding them!
Kyle Richardson: Hey there, DJ. Thanks for having us. Officially, I have three titles that I’m grateful for: father, husband, and struggling writer (a joyful emphasis on the struggling part). I’m an American Canadian, I think long walks on the beach are best done with steampunk goggles on, and I didn’t don an editor’s cap until Tricia approached me with a unique opportunity: she’d stocked up on too much red ink and needed someone to help her use it all.
DJ: What is Behind the Mask: An Anthology of Heroic Proportions about?
Tricia: I think Kyle said it best in a line from his intro: “It’s a spotlight on the more intimate side of the genre. The hopes and dreams of our cape-clad heroes. The regrets and longings of our cowled villains. That poignant, solitary view of the world that can only be experienced from behind the mask.”
Kyle: It’s a look at the human side of the superhero genre—as imagined by twenty talented short-fiction authors.
DJ: What were some of your influences for creating Behind the Mask: An Anthology of Heroic Proportions?
Tricia: Kyle suggested superheroes and I ran across Kelly Link’s “Origin Story,” which was such a touching view of the normal struggles of two people, Bunnatine and Biscuit, who happened to have superpowers. That story had a big impact on the focus of the stories we chose.
Kyle: A love of illustrated superhero fiction—and a desire to show how it feels when skilled prose authors take a crack at it.
DJ: There is no way I cannot ask this question: you can have one superpower, what is it?!
Tricia: Without a doubt, I would have the ability to simultaneously spend time with the husband, grown-up kids, grandkids, dogs, while reading a book, listening to an audio book, and creating cool artwork! I’d be so busy, I’d just order pizza for dinner.
Kyle: Oh, I can spend all day pondering this one. Off the top of my head? Telekinesis. Rather generic, I know—but I’ve had a recurring dream, since I was a kid, where I make a quarter levitate on the palm of my hand. (Imagine my nerd-gasm when I saw that same ability featured in the film Looper!)
DJ: What kinds of stories readers expect in the anthology?
Tricia: There are superheroes of course, but also supervillains, a comic book artist with a cyborg girlfriend, another comic book artist who can make a real superhero disappear by including said superhero in one of his stories! And the genres run the gamut of speculative fiction: urban fantasy, science fiction, myth/folklore, magical realism & all kinds of cool mashups!
Kyle: We’ve tried to include a diverse mix of sub-genres and styles, both genre-specific, and unclassifiable. I find that the writers in this collection are all a bit slippery in their taxonomy—at least in the way they seem to meld different elements together.
DJ: This may be a difficult question to answer, but what are some of your favorite parts from the stories in Behind the Mask: An Anthology of Heroic Proportions? I don’t mean what you believe is the best story, but perhaps some stories has a particular setting, theme, message, or character that you stood out to you?
Tricia: There are 20 incredible stories, and they are each so different and wonderful that it would be difficult, in not impossible, since I’m sure that you have a word count limit! I would say that on 5/16 when the book is released, take a moment and scan the introductions written by me and Kyle. We do touch on each of the stories in some way!
Kyle: I love all the stories for different reasons, and would hate to single any one out in lieu of others. But if you must know, my personal favorite is definitely—hold on, is my phone ringing?
DJ: Being an editor, what do you believe makes a good sfstory?
Tricia: I love stories that are interesting and unique. Especially for speculative fiction, I like settings/world that are completely immersive—all my senses are engaged. I personally favor deep point of view, distinct and engaging voices, stories that hit me emotionally in a big way, whether positively or negatively. If the writing is such that I ask strangers on the bus that they allow me to read a passage out, well, that’s just a bonus!
Kyle: I’m addicted to strong characterization, so I think a potent POV is a must. Aside from that, a unique setting and situation is also a huge plus. I want to feel carried away. And it certainly helps if the prose is both lush and taut.
DJ: What was your favorite part about editing Behind the Mask: An Anthology of Heroic Proportions?
Tricia: That’s a tough call since the various phases of editing are rewarding in different ways. I think the best for me is that first time I read the bound galley with the final edited stories in the order that we chose, getting a feel for the play on the reader’s emotions from one story to the next.
Kyle: Reading all the dazzling submissions and watching the final product take shape, one story at a time. There were so many great stories that we received; being put in the Accept/Reject seat was both a humbling and enlightening experience.
DJ: What do you think readers will be talking about most once they finish it?
Tricia: I hope that they will be still be thinking about and talking about some of their favorite stories from the collection, to their friends, to strangers on the street, to any local news media 😊
Kyle: Hopefully they’ll recommend the book to others, of course! I also hope they’ll seek out other works by the authors in the collection.
DJ: Now that Behind the Mask: An Anthology of Heroic Proportions is released, what is next for you?
Tricia: Hmmm. A stack of unread manuscripts is calling my name. And my husband would love for me to get my nose out of the computer and spend some time with them!
Kyle: I’ve got a few deadlines breathing down my neck, one of which relates to my unfinished steampunk/superhero novel. So, there’s that. Also, I’m a bit hungry right now, so there’s that, too.
DJ: Where can readers find out more about you?
Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.com/Tricia-Reeks/e/B019JDB8MM/ref=dp_byline_cont_ebooks_10
Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.com/Kyle-Richardson/e/B00RPV1NYE/
DJ: Before we go, what is that one thing you’d like readers to know about Behind the Mask: An Anthology of Heroic Proportions that we haven’t talked about yet?
Tricia: In the event of an apocalypse, you can soak the book in water for two days and it will expand into a tiny house with a stocked liquor cabinet. Amazing technology.
Kyle: If you read it in full, there’s a very good chance that you’ll develop a superpower of your own.
DJ: Is there anything else you would like add? (Or add your own question).
Tricia: Hope you enjoy the book!
Kyle: Keep reading! The world needs more readers.
DJ: Thank you so much for taking time out of both of your days to answer my questions!
Tricia: Thanks for having me!
Kyle: Thanks, DJ. Aloha!
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*** Behind the Mask: An Anthology of Heroic Proportions is published by Meerkat Press and is available TODAY!!! ***
Buy the Book:
Amazon | Barnes & Nobel | Goodreads | Kobo | Publisher
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ehind the Mask is a multi-author collection with stories by award-winning authors Kelly Link, Cat Rambo, Carrie Vaughn, Seanan McGuire, Lavie Tidhar, Sarah Pinsker, Keith Rosson, Kate Marshall, Chris Large and others. It is partially a prose nod to the comic world―the bombast, the larger-than-life, the save-the-worlds and the calls-to-adventure. But it’s also a spotlight on the more intimate side of the genre. The hopes and dreams of our cape-clad heroes. The regrets and longings of our cowled villains. That poignant, solitary view of the world that can only be experienced from behind the mask.
The authors in this collection, both established and new, are all dexterous and wonderfully imaginative, each deserving of their own form-fitting uniforms and capes. Some of the stories pulse with social commentary, like Cat Rambo’s whimsical and deft “Ms. Liberty Gets a Haircut” and Keith Rosson’s haunting “Torch Songs.” Others twist the genre into strange and new territories, like Stuart Suffel’s atmospheric “Birthright,” Kate Marhsall’s moving “Destroy the City with Me Tonight,” and Adam Shannon’s reality-bending “Over an Embattled City.” Some punch with heart and humor, like Matt Mikalatos’s satisfying “The Beard of Truth” and Chris Large’s adventurous “Salt City Blue,” while others punch with bite and grit, such as Michael Milne’s evocative “Inheritance,” Aimee Ogden’s poignant “As I Fall Asleep,” and Jennifer Pullen’s heartfelt “Meeting Someone in the 22nd Century.” Some of the stories feature characters who might not be superheroes in the traditional sense, yet are heroic nonetheless, such as Sarah Pinsker’s imaginative “The Smoke Means It’s Working” and Stephanie Lai’s majestic “The Fall of the Jade Sword.” Some shine a unique, captivating spotlight on supervillains, like Keith Frady’s dramatic “Fool” and Carrie Vaughn’s romantic “Origin Story.” Some are somber, ponderous works, where our heroes consider their impact on the world, like Lavie Tidhar’s regret-tinged “Heroes” and Nathan Crowder’s resonant “Madjack.” Others tread more light-hearted waters, with heroes adjusting to the sometimes-comical, sometimes-stressful life in the public eye, like Seanan McGuire’s entertaining “Pedestal” and Patrick Flanagan’s lively “Quintessential Justice.” And then there are the softer, quieter moments between heroes, as they navigate their extraordinary lives in their own unique ways, such as Ziggy Schutz’s tender “Eggshells” and, of course, Kelly Link’s captivating “Origin Story.”
Kyle writes about shape-shifters, superheroes, and the occasional clockwork beast. He currently lives in the suburban wilds of Canada, with his adorable wife Michelle, their squirmy little son Kai, and an imaginary dragon named Chloe who scorches everything she eats.