Prism Book Alliance® would like to thank C.B. Lee for stopping by today. Please give them a warm welcome.
Title: Not Your Sidekick
Author: C.B. Lee
Publisher: Interlude Press
Cover Artist: C.B. Messer
Genre: Action/Adventure, Apocalyptic/dystopian, Bisexual, Fantasy, Fiction, Science Fiction, Young Adult
Release Date: 09/08/2016
Welcome to Andover, where superpowers are common, but internships are complicated. Just ask high school nobody, Jessica Tran. Despite her heroic lineage, Jess is resigned to a life without superpowers and is merely looking to beef up her college applications when she stumbles upon the perfect (paid!) internship—only it turns out to be for the town’s most heinous supervillain. On the upside, she gets to work with her longtime secret crush, Abby, whom Jess thinks may have a secret of her own. Then there’s the budding attraction to her fellow intern, the mysterious “M,” who never seems to be in the same place as Abby. But what starts as a fun way to spite her superhero parents takes a sudden and dangerous turn when she uncovers a plot larger than heroes and villains altogether.
We are here today to talk about Not Your Sidekick. What can you tell us about it?
Hello! Thank you so much for having me on your blog today. Not Your Sidekick all about being who you are and finding your own strength. In a post-apocalyptic world where superpowers are the norm, Jess comes from a family of heroes, yet doesn’t seem to have any powers of her own. She’s determined to prove herself and takes an internship at the prestigious Monroe Industries, alongside her crush, Abby, and then stumbles onto a plot that’s bigger than heroes and villains entirely. It’s an action-packed adventure that I hope everyone will love.
Please tell us more about our main characters.
Jess is a middle child, often overshadowed by her older sister and younger brother, and to make it worse, she doesn’t have any superpowers. But she’s determined and stubborn and finds strength in her skills, and learns to work past her insecurities. Abby appears to be on top of everything, excelling in school and sports, but everything is also falling apart and she’s struggling to ask for help. They both get to know each other while working for Monroe Industries and together start putting together what isn’t right about their world.
What about Not Your Sidekick makes you the proudest?
I wrote a lot from the heart for this novel–Jess, like me, is mixed Chinese and Vietnamese American. While she’s the children of immigrants of a much different world, I really loved writing about the struggle of not being one nor quite the other, and how different cultures have come together in this futuristic world. I think there’s a lot of pressure too, especially for children of immigrants, to make their parents proud and to achieve their expectations. It was hard on me growing up trying to meet those expectations and a constant struggle about what to do when I fell short of my own expectations. Not Your Sidekick has a lot of those themes; how to work with your own strengths and learning how to be proud of yourself.
What is next for these characters? Is there more to this series? If so who will we hear from next?
Not Your Sidekick is just the beginning! We will definitely continue to explore this world and Jess and her friends have quite a lot on their plate. The second novel will focus on Bells and his journey on navigating his superpowers and where they all stand with the main villain at the end of the first novel.
If you could give one piece of advice to aspiring writers, what would it be?
Never give up. It’s difficult, especially when you’re juggling work or school or family life or all three of those things, but if you love it and you want to keep going, I definitely encourage you to never give up. There’s lots of rejection involved, but keep writing, keep submitting, because your story deserves to get out there. Make time in your day to write, even if its only for twenty minutes at a time. In between bouts of life, I find myself jotting down ideas wherever I am. I write while I’m in the grocery store, waiting in line, jotting down ideas and fleshing out pieces of dialogue on my phone, and I’ll try to get something done in between work or errands or whatever. If you try your best to get something down, whether it’s a few sentences or an idea, you’ll have something to work with. Don’t give up– writing is definitely possible, even if you’re busy.
What part of writing a book comes the hardest for you?
The hardest for me is probably any type of angst or very heavy emotional scenes; particularly because I do write with emotion. I draw a lot on personal experiences to write, and I have to put myself directly into what the character is feeling, so often times my own mood will be directly affected. It’s really difficult if I’m not up for feeling that way, but I try my best.
It’s also very difficult when I get stuck on a particular scene; what I found works to keep up with the flow is to make a note of what I’m stuck with, and then skip ahead to a different scene and work on a different part of the novel. Working on a different part of the story often helps me problem-solve what had to happen before, or what will come later.
It might be cheating to say all of it– but yes, all of it. Getting it all done, from start to finish, from bare bones to fleshing out the entire story. Sometimes the words just spill out of me like a waterfall, and sometimes it’s like pulling teeth, but there’s a lot of frustration involved, lots of pacing and talking to myself, trying to see if scenes will work. I’m always amazed when it finally does come together, and I wouldn’t be able to do it without the support of amazing friends and my editors.
Do you take a break from a first draft to get distance from it, or dive right into editing, or edit heavily as you write?
I try not to edit as I write, but sometimes I find myself doing so, especially if I add new things or change a subplot significantly. I am a big fan of NanoWriMo, and during that month I wrote the majority of Not Your Sidekick. None of this was edited at the time; I was just rushing and rushing to try and make the word count. Being a part of that community is incredible, I love the energy and the support and knowing that others are also writing with you. That first draft was a mess, afterwards, and I definitely take my time getting back to it. It’s good to have a bit of space, some time for it all to sink in, maybe let someone else read it and make some notes before I get back into the thick of editing and reshaping it.
If you could have a superpower, what would it be and why?
Time manipulation! I’d love to be able to create a time bubble, a little bubble around me that I could freeze time, and in that moment I could get things done and the outer world wouldn’t change while I was working. It’d be great on catching up on sleep, too. I would be so productive with this.
In Harry Potter, what one spell would you have written in that JK Rowling didn’t?
I’d love to have a spell that would stop time! Like my superpower, but in the magical world, hehe.
What are you reading right now and what is next on your to-be-read list?
Currently reading With or Without You by Zane Riley, and on my to-read list is Labyrinth Lost by Zoraida Solo and Sweet by Rebekah Weatherspoon.
Rapid Fire Time
- Pickup Truck or Sedan? Pickup truck!
- hot air balloon or blimp? Hot air balloon
- Underwear and socks: folded in the drawer or tossed? Tossed!
- Tropical island or snow covered mountain cabin? Snow covered mountain cabin
- Peanuts or Cashews? Peanuts
- Favorite Color? Orange
- Tardis or DeLorean? Tardis
- Light saber or a Sonic screwdriver? Sonic screwdriver
- Spring or Fall? Fall
- Butterfly or Lady bug? Ladybugs!
What are you working on? What is next?
Not Your Villain is the sequel to Not Your Sidekick and tells the story of who hasn’t been
the crime-fighting Chameleon for long when he and his friends discover that the League is corrupt. He’s got a lot of deal with now that the stakes are raised (no spoilers for Not Your Sidekick, though!) and a crush to deal with as well.
About the Author
C.B. Lee is a bisexual writer, rock climber, and pinniped enthusiast from Southern California. A first-generation Asian American, she is passionate about working in communities of color and empowering youth to be inspired to write characters and stories of their own. Lee’s debut novel Seven Tears at High Tide was published by Duet Books in 2015 and named a finalist in the Bisexual Books Awards. This summer, she was selected to participate in Lambda Literary’s Writer’s Workshop for Emerging LGBTQ Voices.
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