Writing Superheroes: Sean MacCotter


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According to Wikipedia, ‘a superhero is a type of heroic character possessing extraordinary talents, supernatural phenomena, or superhuman powers and is dedicated to a moral goal or protecting the public.’ Sounds like a writer to me!

Join me as another one of these unsung superheroes invites into their personal ‘batcave’.


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

            Scene 1: Sitting on the floor of the public library at age 5-6 looking at pictures from random books from the lowest shelves, and then being quizzed by my grandmother to describe to her what I had ‘read’.

            Scene 2: Writing essays on whatever I thought was important in high school classes.

            Scene 3: Writing assignments in Creative Writing in college.


What did your early efforts look like?

            Pretty good descriptions of places and events evolved.  Attempts at poetry were junk (I write only prose now).


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

            I make every effort to cover up the evidence, although an occasional scribble surfaces from time to time.


2015 Apr 11 Rick little All superheroes have their mild-mannered secret identity, what is yours?

            I write under a pen name – enough said.


Who are your partners in crime?

            Over the years I’ve accumulated a wide range of friends and subject matter “experts”.  I call on them frequently to fill in the blanks in my technical knowledge.  My latest book, The Babylon Hoard, involves aerial photography during World War I and the early 1920’s – one of ‘partners’ is a professional photographer and camera expert who provided invaluable information.  Medieval history ‘partners’ in England helped with detailed information on small villages and life in the eleventh century.


 Where do you get your superpowers from?

            I enjoy research – especially finding the small facts of life around my characters and then filling in the blanks.  My stories aren’t finished until I’m satisfied I’ve learned everything reasonably possible about the life and times of my characters.


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

            My “Bat Cave’ is a small office in my home where I plot, plan and assemble the pieces of my next adventure.  When I venture forth, my IPad, camera and 3×5 notebook capture the evidence I bring back to my lair.


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

            See above – I never set out without my devices, and my curiosity.  Right now I’ve got three new stories in mind and I’m capturing all the bits of information I can find.  I am frequently inspired by British television drama – some characters provide ‘Aha!” moments to add to my catalogue of character traits.


How do you insure they are used only for good?

            Who said they were always good?


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

            See the head shot enclosed.  I’m really from another world and hide my true countenance to encourage communication.


What is your kryptonite?

            Obsessive writing to the exclusion of all else.


 What are the biggest challenges faced with your writing?

            Marketing, marketing and then marketing.


What was the supervillain that threatened to stop your latest project and how did you vanquish it?

            During the writing of The Babylon Hoard I completed my heroes’ quest, but ran out of plot before they got home.  I spent as much time creating a interesting plausible finale in the last three chapters as I did writing the other thirty.  To find out how I vanquished the supervillain, of course, you’ll have to buy the book. 


What important lessons have you learned along the way?

            Writing novels is more fun and rewarding than I thought it would be.  I should have started 20-30 years ago.


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

            Best experience so far:  A distant relative in high school in the Midwest related she asked her history teacher how he knew so much about the Crusades.  He told her he had just finished reading a book titled, “The Key”.  He didn’t believe her uncle wrote the book until she produced a family picture with me in it.  Pretty cool for an Indie published who had only sold about 1,000 copies worldwide at that point.


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

            I would have definitely written more stories sooner – I spent far too much time writing training materials and marketing blurbs for employers at the expense of telling stories I wanted to write for a much broader audience.

            At this point, I would only change my bank account to be much larger to visit the places in the world where my stories are set and personally see and interview the locals.


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

            Winston Churchill – “Never, never, never . . . give up.”  Follow that advice and almost anyone can do almost anything.


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

            My most recent book, The Babylon Hoard, is the third story in The Key trilogy.  It answers questions that remained hidden and undecipherable for more than 2,000 years.  The setting is in the deserts of Iraq (pretty topical I think) during the Roaring Twenties (good place to find fascinating characters) who fly aeroplanes (challenges unto themselves), thumb their noses at authority figures (always fun) and risk their lives to find buried treasure (did I mention treasure before?).  Oh, and there’s a bit of a love story thrown in.  For those few people on the planet who haven’t read the first two books in the trilogy, The Key and The Gentleman Adventurer, the third book can be read alone – I expect everyone reading it will rush right out and buy the first two as soon as they finsh reading.


What’s in store for you in the future?

            I need to catch up on a year’s worth of household chores, and then decide on which of three possible new stories to write.


Do you have any other big projects on the horizon?

            My next few books will be singles – nothing so ambitious as another trilogy.  Although The Babylon Hoard’s characters are ripe for more adventures – and the relationships could end up being a series.  Stay tuned.



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