Writing superheroes: Peter St. John

     superhero copy

If you were to write the ‘origin’s episode’ of your writing what would be the most important scenes?

 MG 1 Aunt Scolds PeterThe “origin’s episode”, set in England at the beginning of the Second World War, is about “getting even” with a certain person who is without name in the “Gang” books, and who shall remain nameless. The flavor of this episode is illustrated here:

MG 2 Complicated MachineWhat did your early efforts look like?

My early efforts were, well, a bit like this.

Are they still around to be used as bribes and blackmail material?

 Oh yes, my early efforts are still around. If, like super-MG 3 Jenno Searchingheroine Jenno here, you know where to look you can find them. They could perhaps be used to blackmail, but you’d have to be very ingenious indeed to employ them as bribes.

MG 4 Peter in Cassock 

All super heroes have their mild-mannered secret identity, what is yours? I promise we won’t tell.

 Aha, I see… you won’t tell, but I must. Well since you insist, the mild-mannered semi-secret identity of my hero (few would consider him a “super” hero, and certainly not Jenno!) is as portrayed below. Isn’t he, oh so sweetly, innocent?


 Who are your partners in crime?

 The partners in crime are the members of the Lions Avenue Gang. Here are most of them in a group picture: I won’t give you their names, there are too many of them…

MG 5 The LotThere are several other Gangs in the village of Widdlington, but their members are rivals, and opponents, rather than partners.


What are their superpowers?

 The gang members’ super powers are invisible, but none the less real. They are only revealed through their adventures in the “Gang” books (read them if you dare). Even so, the gang has MG 6 Happy Racingdoubts about Dismal Dennis, riding here in his soapbox cart “Droopy”. He’s seems often to be a super pessimist, but Jenno doesn’t care, she’s away free down the Mountain Glide in her Emmeline P”.


Where do you get your superpowers from?

 MG 7 Nuffink Works

Superpowers come from belief in one’s self, and from building what you want from the materials to hand. But don’t run away with the idea that it’s easy…


Where is your secret lair and what does it look like?

MG 8 Dummy's Hut The hero’s secret lair is this hut on the Widdlington allotments. Actually, it belongs to “Dummy”, but then he and the hero are in collusion against most of the rest.


What kind of training do you do to keep your superpowers in world saving form?


MG 9 Jenno HandstandsJenno does handstands: It’s a good exercise for irrigating the brain. Boys don’t do handstands of course; but that’s their lookout…

How do you ensure they are used only for good?

MG 10 Jenno Thinker You are asking a lot if you want superpowers to be used only for good, or at any rate to turn out that way. That said, the essentials behind “good” works are meditation, discussion, planning and ACTION! What more could you possibly want? The trouble is that they don’t always combine in the ways one might expect…

Granted, you probably don’t’ get to wear your superhero costume a lot, but if you did, what would it look like?MG 11 Peter Racing

 On the contrary, my superhero wears his superhero costume every day, except in bed. It’s just a modest ordinary suit. It’s less conspicuous than a flowing cape, and very much more practical; there are pockets for instance. Even so, he wishes he could have a pair of long trousers, like Brian…

MG 12 PhoebeWhat is your kryptonite?

 Heebie-Jeebie Phoebe is even more deadly than kryptonite. She’s real poison!

What are the biggest challenges faced with in your writing?


The biggest challenge is getting everybody to interact naturally in a coherent and comprehensible way. Talk about crowd psychology never mind personnel management and human relations!

MG 13 Jenno's Characters

What was the super-villain that threatened to stop your latest project.

MG 14 Slug Sydney Snaylor, the “Slug” is the super-villain. Well, in reality he’s not at all “super”, but a very nasty piece of work. He’s a real little Hitler with his brown-shirt buddies. He wants to stop everything and everybody that doesn’t pay him homage.

How did you vanquish it?MG 15 Boys Fighting

 Vanquish isn’t quite the right word, but the villains find themselves opposed with patience, fortitude, and determination. Severe challenges are issued, resulting in gang warfare and rivalry. Unwavering loyalty is essential for success, but can it be assured? The issues are important and the combat far from easy. Even the very highest authorities become embroiled.

What important lessons have you learned along the way?

 MG 16 Jenno EnthronedTo keep expectations modest and then have lots of fun…


What have been the best/most memorable experiences along the way?

 Ah, the best and most memorable experiences? There are so many… But perhaps the most transcendental is that incident, somewhere in the “Gang” series, when the hero and Penny kiss in a twilight church.

In retrospect, that fleeting instant forever fixed in the frame of time, captures the profound essence of life. That ephemeral kiss expresses a love so pure, so complete, so wholly embracing, as to render comprehensible the entire universe.MG 17 Penny & Peter

And the exquisite love it sought to express reveals yet another love; a love so profound that all creation, to the furthest reaches of human imagination, is graced by its touch.

That secret kiss, in a chilly, cheerless church, realizes the incomprehensible universality of love.

That penny kiss buys the wealth of being. That trifling kiss brings a glimpse of God.


If you did this again what would you do differently and what would you not change?

 I would do nothing differently; I would change nothing. This is not complacency; I just leave well alone. Real life is the way it is, warts an’ all… Besides, who am I to tell the inhabitants of Widdlington how they should live?


What is the best (writing or otherwise) advice you have ever gotten and why.

MG 18 Jenno & Peter on Bench To know when to stop; to know that critical moment when it’s fatal to attempt improving what is already good. And then to know when to start afresh; at least, that’s what Jenno says, but she’s not always right…

Tell us about your new book and why we need to drop everything and get it now.

 MG 19 Gang Spies Cover

The sixth book in the “Gang” series, “Gang Spies”, is due to be published by SilverWood Books, in paperback, in March 2014. The story turns around careless talk. But please don’t drop everything for it; be careful, because some of those who have bought only one in the series have found themselves buying the five others. Just don’t say afterwards that I didn’t warn you!

What’s in store for you in the future? Do you have any other big projects on the horizon?

 MG 20 USAAF ShieldA plot outline for a seventh book in the “Gang” series has been prepared. This new novel plans to explore the effects, on the inhabitants of Widdlington village, of the coming of the US Army Air Force in 1942. A tentative title is “Gang America”. How will the village gangs face up to this new, foreign, and extremely powerful, flying “Gang”?


 MG 21 AuthorThank you Maria Grace, for kindly interviewing me. I hope you found my super-hero, super-heroine and super-villain of interest.


 Find Peter St John at





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1 ping

    • Ginger Dawn Harman on March 9, 2014 at 4:07 pm
    • Reply

    What a great interview! I have read every Gang book! Can’t wait to read the newest novel by Peter St. John! I also am very impressed with the set up of your blog! Bravo!

    1. Thanks Ginger! It is great to have you come by!

  1. […] Writing superheroes: Peter St. John […]

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