Here’s the story…
It was all just a big misunderstanding. Penny didn’t want to be a mad scientist. She wanted to be a superhero. Her parents were superheroes. Mad scientists were villains, the kind of people who built plasma bombs and death robots. She only pretended to be a supervillain to stop a fight.
Well, misunderstandings can stick. Suddenly everyone knew that the Inscrutable Machine was the world’s first middle school supervillain team. At least no one knew that Penny and her two best friends were the Inscrutable Machine. They just had to catch a villain, and everyone would accept them as superheroes.
It would have worked, if they hadn’t been stalked by a superhero’s meanspirited sidekick. Accidentally releasing an eldritch horror didn’t help. Or the rumors that she found an alien weapon in a landfill. Some of the supervillains she met liked her, and she liked them. Definitely not good for her image. There was no way she could clear her name while facing blackmail by the criminal mastermind Spider. She did kind of build a plasma bomb and a death robot, although it’s not like she ever used them to hurt anybody.
Penny still wanted to be a superhero, but boy, it seemed like the only thing the Inscrutable Machine couldn’t do was get anyone to listen!
After recently completing a Writing Process Blog Tour, I thought I’d ask Richard a few questions about writing Please Don’t Tell My Parents I’m A Supervillain.
Where did the idea for the book come from?
Everyone asks this question. I know exactly where this book came from. The problem is, it’s a long and convoluted story. Picture it: Little girls staring down tigers. Animation studios from India contacting me out of the blue. Endless days throwing out idea after idea to help develop a nationally syndicated comic strip. Finally, a song recommended by a friend hits me like a bolt of lightning. What this world needs, I realized, is a book about a middle school girl super VILLAIN. Bonus points for mad science.
Who was your favorite character to create?
Wow. That… that is hard. I loved Penny to death, which is why she’s the center of the book. She’s very intense and involved, almost single minded. It makes her fun to write. I was charmed by Vera, even though she doesn’t have much emotion. Delph and V3R4, who are fictional even within this fictional world, left me wishing I could make that comic. Bull and Spider were very satisfying, because they fleshed out Penny’s world. She Who Wots… now, that is a supervillain concept I am proud of. There’s a lot of competition, but Penny still wins.
Do you have a favorite scene from the book?
Yes. Absolutely. It’s the scene where The Inscrutable Machine visits Chinatown and finds out that it’s a giant supervillain convention on weekends. It’s full of new characters, strange and fantastic sights, my personal fond memories of LA, and emotional highs and lows for Penny. I was listening to Aqua’s ‘Back From Mars’ all the way through the book dreaming of how I’d write that scene.
How long did it take you to write Please Don’t Tell My Parents I’m a Supervillain?
This one I’m not sure about. Five months? I recall being pretty busy and having a lot of distractions, even though the book flowed very easily.
He’s had the classic wandering employment history – degree in entomology, worked in health care, been an administrator and labored for years in the front lines of fast food. He’s had the appropriate really weird jobs, like breeding tarantulas and translating English to English for Japanese television. He wears all black, all the time, is manic-depressive, and has a creepy laugh.
He’s also followed the classic writer’s path, the pink slips, the anthology submissions, the desperate scrounging to learn how an ever-changing system works. He’s been writing from childhood, and had the appropriate horrible relationships that damaged his self-confidence for years. Then out of nowhereCuriosity Quills Press demanded he give them his books, and here he is.
As for what he writes, Richard loves children and the gothic aesthetic. Most everything he writes will involve one or the other, and occasionally both. His fantasy is heavily influenced by folk tales, fairy tales, and mythology, and he likes to make the old new again. In particular, he loves to pull his readers into strange characters with strange lives, and his heroes are rarely heroic.