Ironman, Batman, Hellboy, Hulk–it’s certainly a splendid summer of superheroes at the cinema! Are your young adult readers hungry for more? Check out Chance Fortune and the Outlaws (The Adventures of Chance Fortune)
–a superhero cut from a slightly different cloth. Join me as I infiltrate the lair of creator Shane Berryhill to find out more about what makes evil genius tick.
Alethea Kontis: What was your favorite book(s) as a kid?
Shane Berryhill: The first books I remember going absolutely giant-albino-four-armed-ape over were Edgar Rice Burroughs’s Mars novellas. When I was in junior high, I even faked being sick to stay home from school so that I could finish The Gods of Mars. Now, kids fake being sick to stay home from school for a lot of reasons, but I doubt finishing a book ranks high on the list!
AK: What was your best subject in school?
SB: Illustration. Unfortunately it wasn’t part of the official curriculum. <grins>
AK: How did you get started writing?
SB: For a would-be writer, sometimes the best book you can read is a bad one. Not long after the turn of the millennium, I was reading a novel–some bestseller by a big name author–that was pure schlock. I finished it, certain that I could do better. I decided to try. I submitted several short stories to various sci-fi magazines, but didn’t get so much as a nibble. And rightly so. My first efforts where atrocious. But being bull-headed as I am, I didn’t let that deter me. I began studying the writing craft and honing my skills. Before long, my rejection letters were coming back with positive comments. But rejection letters they still were, admittedly. I saw that, if I was going meet my personal goal of success as a writer, my first step would be to write a novel. I set about creating a book that would excite that same 12-year-old who was so ga-ga over Burroughs. Thus was born Chance Fortune.
AK: What’s next for you?
SB: Other than total and absolute world domination? Book two of The Adventures of Chance Fortune series, Chance Fortune in the Shadow Zone, is scheduled to release in hardcover this fall. My manager just finalized a development deal with Kickstart Productions, part of the team behind Angelina Jolie’s upcoming flick, Wanted. They’ll be shopping around my screenplay in hopes to have it optioned by a major studio. As I write this, my agent is trying to find a publisher for my middle-grade novel of Christmas fantasy-noir, The Long Silent Night. Last but not least, I’m midway through the first draft of an adult novel about a mentally and physically diseased serial killer I’ve tentatively titled Hollow.
AK: If you could have any superpowers, what would they be?
SB: The power to make Chuck Norris cry. But, as we all know, that’s impossible no matter how abundant your superpowers are. He created the universe with a spinning back-kick, after all!
AK: Describe your perfect fortress of solitude.
SB: Kryptonian sunstone structures aside, in the literal sense…
For work: My home office, the shade down, the door shut.
For relaxation: The Mud Pie–a bohemian, yet unpretentious coffee shop in Chattanooga, Tennessee, where I’m able to lose myself in a book while eating my favorite meal and drinking my favorite cup of java.
For play: Once upon a time not so long ago, a fabled hole-in-the-wall bar known as The Stone Lion existed here in Chattanooga. Despite its small size and inherent filthiness–or because of it–there truly was something magical about the place. It served as a microcosm of utopia in a city normally divided by race, religion, and economic status. I can’t tell you how many times while saddled up to a Stone Lion high-top, I watched suit-clad corporate attorneys and tattooed punk rockers toast one another in genuine friendship, if only for that hour. It was a glorious thing to behold, and to be a part of. But alas, The Stone Lion is no more. Nothing so markedly bookended my 20s as walking to work one day after The Stone Lion was closed and seeing the large statue that was its namesake tipped over onto its side. It truly was a graphic representation of the end of an era in both the city’s life and my own.