eSpec Books interviews Keith R.A. DeCandido, contributor to The Side of Good / The Side of Evil, a Superhero Flipbook anthology, http://tiny.cc/SoGSoE.
eSB: What drew you to this project?
KRAD: Danielle Ackley-McPhail saying, “Wanna write a superhero story?” and me saying, “Sure!” I’ve been a huge fan of superhero stories since I saw Spider-Man show up on The Electric Company in the 1970s, and two of my first short story sales were superhero stories, as was my first novel.
eSB: Which side are you writing for?
KRAD: The villain side.
eSB: What got you interested in superheroes/villains?
KRAD: I’ve just always been taken by superhero stories. Seeing Spidey on children’s television led to reading the tie-in comic Spidey Super Stories, which led to reading more comics, and I just loved ’em. I love the notion of powers and what they do to change people, some for the better, some for the worse.
eSB: Please tell us a little bit about the inspiration for your story.
KRAD: I’ve written one novel and one short story so far in the world of Super City Police Department. SCPD is about the cops in a city filled with superheroes and all the nonsense they have to deal with. One of the bits in the first SCPD novel, The Case of the Claw, is about how the homicide detectives just hate when they find the body of the Clone Master, because another one always turns up later, and they waste time and effort investigating his death only to have him turn up again. When Dani came to me with the notion of TSoG/TSoE, I thought it might be cool to flesh the Clone Master out and delve into his particular brand of lunacy.
eSB: If you could have one superpower, what would it be and how would it work?
KRAD: Flight. The closest I’ve come to unaided flight is when I went parasailing, and it was the most wonderful feeling in the world.
eSB: What would your weakness be and why?
KRAD: Why would I want a weakness? That’s just silly.
eSB: Describe your ideal super suit.
KRAD: Thin body armor that protects my entire body.
eSB: Who is your favorite superhero and why?
KRAD: Spider-Man, because he’s still a person who has to deal with the same nonsense as other people, and being a superhero not only doesn’t make it better, it often makes it worse. Plus, he’s someone who does whatever it takes to do the right thing regardless of personal consequences, even if the consequences are horrifically negative and those consequences only affect him. Plus, he’s hilarious…
eSB: Who is your real-life hero and why?
KRAD: My great-grandmother, Grazia DeBacco. She came to this country as a teenager on a crowded boat in the early part of the 20th century, moved to rural western Pennsylvania and proceeded to have ten kids. Despite the fact that the kids were almost all born at the height of the Depression, despite the fact that they lived in a house the size of a shoebox, those ten kids (starting with my grandmother) grew up into the nicest, sweetest, most generous people. And she was this little 4’9″ woman with incredible presence who kept them all in line and raised them to be fantastic. She died in 2003 at the age of 98, and I based Federation President Nan Bacco in several Star Trek novels after her.
eSB: Who is the villain you love to hate, and why?
KRAD: Dick Cheney. If I must stick with a fictional villain, it’s so hard to narrow it down I’m going to go with Immortan Joe in Mad Max: Fury Road, because he was deliciously evil, and the root of his evil is something we see in the world today, with his need to control women and use them only as incubators for children.
eSB: In your opinion, what characterizes a hero?
KRAD: Someone who is faced with all the crap in the world, but still perseveres and does the right thing, even though it would be so much easier to not do it.
eSB: In your opinion, what characterizes a villain?
KRAD: Someone who doesn’t give a rat’s ass about consequences.
eSB: What is your viewpoint on Sidekicks?
KRAD: They’re usually more interesting than the hero.
eSB: What is your favorite superhero movie and why?
KRAD: Mystery Men. It was ahead of its time, as it would have been much better received after superhero movies took off, not in 1999 the year before X-Men was released. But it’s a great sendup of the genre, and still also a great movie about heroes. “We’ve got a date with destiny, and she just ordered the lobster.”
eSB: What other comic or superhero-related work have you done in the past?
KRAD: I’ve done a bunch of licensed comics: Star Trek, Farscape, StarCraft, Cars. I also scripted a graphic-novel adaptation of Greg Wilson’s Icarus, with art by Matt Slay, that should be out in 2016. My superhero work, on the other hand, is all prose. I’ve written two Spider-Man novels, two Spidey short stories, short stories featuring the Silver Surfer, Hulk, and the X-Men, plus I’ve got the aforementioned SCPD stuff, and another nifty superhero project I can’t talk about—yet…
eSB: What was your most exciting moment working in the comic industry?
KRAD: Getting to write the post-finale Farscape comics, collaborating with the show’s creator, Rockne S. O’Bannon. We did “season 5” of the show in comics form, and it was fantastic. Just a great three years.
eSB: If there was one comic franchise you could work on, which would it be and why?
KRAD: Probably Spider-Man, just because I have such a history with the character.
eSB: Fiction or comics, which is your favorite medium and why?
KRAD: I’m more comfortable with prose, because that’s what I’ve worked more in—more than 50 novels and more than 75 short stories, versus a comparative handful of comics. But I like both.
eSB: Please tell us about your non-comic related work.
KRAD: Tons of it. Most recently or coming soon: the Star Trek coffee table book The Klingon Art of War, the novels Sleepy Hollow: Children of the Revolution and Stargate SG-1: Kali’s Wrath, the short-story collection Without a License: The Fantastic Worlds of Keith R.A. DeCandido, and short stories in Bad-Ass Faeries: It’s Elemental, Buzzy Mag, Out of Tune, Stargate SG-1/Atlantis: Far Horizons, V-Wars, V-Wars: Night Terrors, With Great Power, and The X-Files: Trust No One. I’m also doing weekly rewatches of the original Star Trek (Tuesdays) and of the various Stargate series (Fridays) on Tor.com; in the past I’ve done rewatches of both Star Trek: The Next Generation and Star Trek: Deep Space Nine for that site.
eSB: Do you have any news you would like to announce?
KRAD: I wish, but I’m working on two projects right now that I can’t talk about yet. But soon. Keep watching the skies! (Or the Internet…)
eSB: Please let us know where you can be found on social media.
KRAD: I’m on Facebook as Keith DeCandido, my blog is at kradical.livejournal.com, and I’m on Twitter @KRADeC.
eSB: Thank you for allowing this glimpse beneath your alter-ego. We’re looking forward to more super heroics and evil geniuses to come.