What was the spark for “Origin Story”?
This one started pretty much with the opening scene: What if you got caught up in a bank heist, and the masked supervillain behind it turned out to be an ex-boyfriend, whom you recognize despite the mask? As with most good superhero stories, the situation—running into an old ex—is emotionally familiar, but amplified. I find this kind of story intriguing and a lot of fun.
How does this story relate to the world of After The Golden Age?
“Origin Story” is definitely set in the same world as After the Golden Age. It’s the same Commerce City. I’m working on a third novel in that series, Rise of the Golden Age, and Techhunter is one of the main villains in it. I can’t remember now which came first, the Techhunter in the short story or the one in the novel, but I definitely wanted a chance to learn more about the character, hence the little bit of backstory in the short.
Which are your favorite superhero/ines/stories?
I kind of love them all. I grew up watching Wonder Woman, The Incredible Hulk, Super Friends, all those shows from the late seventies and early eighties on TV. I didn’t get into comics until much later, and even now I prefer the movie and TV versions, where the stories are more compact. Right now, I’m really loving The Flash and Agent Carter. Agent Carter is right up my alley—she doesn’t have powers herself, but she moves easily through this four-color superhero world, with all the gadgets and weird science and over-the-top tropes. I’m drawn to more positive, idealistic superhero stories. Watchmen was amazing in the way it deconstructed the tropes, but it spawned a generation of just dire, cynical, morbid superhero stories. That gets old quick.
I also have to put in a plug here for Wild Cards, the shared-world series edited by George R.R. Martin, which I contribute to. It’s a very different superhero world—more alternate history, even. But it’s just as much fun to play in. Commerce City is a more classic, four-color superhero world.
What do you wish someone, possibly you, would do for the superhero/ine narrative?
I’ve kind of already gotten my wish—superhero stories are so ubiquitous right now that the possibilities in what one can actually do have really opened up. That the ultra-sunny and goofy Supergirl can exist at the same time as the ultra-grim Jessica Jones tells me that the genre (at least in film and TV) has matured to the point where many different kinds of stories are possible, and people are ready to start experimenting. In fact, we need experimentation if superhero film and TV are going to remain popular. I’m looking forward to Deadpool, to see how much satire it can bring to the genre, because I’m definitely ready for it. I’d love to see more like Birdman, which technically isn’t a superhero movie, but rather a meditation on pop culture and superhero entertainment—but I’d argue that Birdman couldn’t exist without the current saturation of superhero everything.
We’re still waiting for the great prose fiction superhero classic. Something like The Martian for superheroes, if you will. We’ve gotten close a couple of times, but the genre still hasn’t found much of a foothold in fiction for some reason. I think because it’s hard to capture such a visual genre in prose, and because there really are so many ways of telling these kinds of stories—cynical, idealistic, serious, satirical—and not every way appeals to all audiences.
Any news or projects you’d like to share?
This summer, I have a short story collection coming out from Fairwood Press: Amaryllis and Other Stories will be out in August. My next novel is a solar system space opera called Study Abroad, and it’ll be out in January 2017. And as John mentions in his editorial, my post-apocalyptic novel Bannerless will be out in 2017 from John Joseph Adams Books. It’s set in the same world as my short stories “Amaryllis” and “Bannerless,” which John also edited. As always, visit carrievaughn.com for more info.
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