Books: dangerous
  A Dangerous history

I love superheroes.

I grew up watching Wonder Woman, my sister and I spinning around in the family room in our Underoos and pretending to fight bad guys. I watched Super Friends, Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends, He-Man, Jem and the Holograms, and later Batman and Superman. The Spider-Man segments on Electric Company were my favorite part. Our family loved the Superman movies (all but 4, of course) and yes, even the Supergirl movie. I didn't know it was terrible. It was Supergirl!

And I was a voracious reader. But I never came across a superhero book.

My husband grew up reading superhero comic books. I didn't have access to comic books growing up. They were a "boy thing." But I'm certain I would have loved them. I began to read them as an adult--Wonder Woman, X-Men, Justice League, Invincible, Runaways. Dean and I saw all the superhero movies in the theater and walked away feeling as though we could vanquish all the bad guys ourselves!

I was still a voracious reader, but still never came across a superhero book. Why are superhero stories so fundamental to movies, cartoons, and comics but mostly skip novels altogether?

I wanted to write that book. The one that I would have loved when I was younger. The one I would gobble up now.

The superhero genre is a subset of science fiction. Growing up, our library coded books by genre with a sticker on the spine. The fantasy books had a unicorn, the scifi had a Saturn. I went straight for the unicorns. The Saturns, I understood, were for the boys, not for me. Not until adulthood did I question this. Why is science fiction only for boys? And science too, for that matter?

So, yeah, I definitely wanted to write science fiction. As a girl. Starring a girl. Superhero YA scifi, something I hadn't seen before but to my mind so logically needed to exist.

As a writer, what excites me is crossing genres. A western-fairytale-graphic-novel. A literary-princess-story. An Austen-romantic-comedy-murder-mystery. With this book, I wanted to take the realism and depth allowed in novels + superhero adventure story + young adult. Could I pull it off? And would people accept a popcorn movie/Saturday morning cartoon type story in a realistic medium?

Smart People told me that it wouldn't work, and for many reasons.
  1. The only kinds of science fiction you can do in young adult books are dystopian and steam punk. You can't do YA scifi in a contemporary setting (which is what the superhero genre typically is).
  2. Girls don't read science fiction, and boys won't read about girls, so there's no audience for this book.
  3. Superhero stories are the domain of Saturday morning cartoons (targeted at boys) and Hollywood action movies (targeted at men). You can't do it for a teen audience, and certainly not a female teen audience.
  4. The superhero story has passed over into the overdone realm. In novel form, you can only parody it, not take it seriously.

But I have this problem. When people tell me I can't do something, I want to do it all the more. It took me time to get it right, no question. The book creation spanned a decade.

2003 I knew I wanted to write a YA scifi superhero story and began to invent it.

2004 I first named a character Daisy Danger Brown (changed her name to Maisie several years later).

2005 I sold a synopsis and outline of the book to my publisher, Bloomsbury.

2009 I finished a first draft.

2013 I finished a final draft.

Maybe in 2003 we weren't reading for a superhero-female-MC-contemporary-scifi-YA-novel. Hopefully by 2014 we are. At least, I am ready for Maisie Danger Brown. If I had Maisie Brown Underoos, I'd put them on right now and spin around in the living room.

Return to main Dangerous page