Writing Superheroes: Char Newcomb

Obsessed with Star Wars, her costume is a Jedi Knight.Read on and find out more…

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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 ‘origin’s episode’ of your writing what would be the most important scenes? What did your early efforts look like? Are they still around to be used as bribes and blackmail material?

My writing origins are in a galaxy far, far away, a place every bit as fantastical and foreign as the 12th century. It is about people struggling to survive, about fighting evil, about hopes and dreams. I didn’t know it at the time, but other than school projects way back in the Dark Ages, my earliest attempt at writing would have been called ‘fan fiction.’ One of my partners in crime loved it and encouraged me to write more of the action-adventure type stories I loved to read. That story is safely locked away, and definitely not for human consumption.


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

You know I’m a librarian by day, but my alter ego is a super-secret, introverted spy who happens to have a slight obsession with Star Wars. (“Slight?” Can you hear the laughter from my 3 grown children and my friends?)


Who are your partners in crime? What are their superpowers?

That would be my beta readers and members of my writers group. They have the ability to spot clichés, plot holes, and inconsistent characters. They are also the best of cheerleaders.


Where do you get your superpowers from?

That is a well-guarded secret, Maria. I cannot tell you because then I’d have to… you know… As they say in the Navy, “loose lips sink ships.” (Yes, I am a veteran of the U.S. Navy.)


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

I have two. One is the local coffee shop where I have churned out 3 novels in 6 years – maybe that doesn’t count as churning, but I am quite proud of that accomplishment. I can tune out the jazzy music and conversation buzz easily and slip into medieval times. My other lair is my home office, which has been described by friends and family as the Star Wars museum. Yes, just a slight obsession. 


What kind of training do you do to keep your superpowers in world saving form? How do you insure they are used only for good?

Doses of Game of Thrones, Lord of the Rings, Vikings, and Star Trek keep me in top form, along with regular viewing of the original Star Wars Trilogy and The Force Awakens (which I have only seen 9 times). The dark side has no influence over me, well, except for that kryptonite you ask about…


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

How could I say anything other than a Jedi? The Jedi are knights – not quite like my medieval knights, but they have swords!


What is your kryptonite? What are the biggest challenges you face with your writing?

The Dark Side eats up my writing time. I can rarely write at night, and the full time librarian job leaves me with only a couple of hours to write each day. I have not been gifted with the power to churn out 90,000 words several times a year.


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

Herniated cervical discs. Who knew that pain in the neck could make you feel like you were having a heart attack? Too many years hunched in front of a computer took me to the hospital one night and kept me from writing for almost 4 weeks. Physical therapy has taught me to manage the pain that re-occurs when I lose track of time and forget to get away from the computer. It’s tough when I often spend three-quarters of my waking hours at the computer.


What important lessons have you learned along the way?

Celebrate others’ successes. Try not to compare myself with others – my friend Ryan has to remind me of this one at least a couple of times a month. (Thank you, Ryan.)


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

Discovering a cadre of supportive authors and bloggers online and meeting some of them in person. I will be at the Historical Novel Society Conference in Oxford in September and plan to meet many more virtual friends there.


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

Hm…move my novels to the Tudor period? Nah…

Someone once suggested my current books are a turn-off for some readers because I included a love story between two men. (Yes, my main character is Henry de Grey, but Battle Scars is not Fifty Shades of Grey!) But I couldn’t change that theme because this is the story I need to tell right now. The characters came alive for me. They are men you know and respect. They are human and their story touches my heart. I hope it touches others.


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

Trust yourself.


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

For King and Country takes place during Richard the Lionheart’s reign at the end of the 12th century, but the story has relevance today with themes of soldiers returning from war, of post-traumatic stress syndrome, family loyalties, political intrigue, and gay relationships. The young knight Henry de Grey has returned from the Third Crusade a changed man. He cannot leave the war behind because he returns to an England threatened by civil war. He and the king’s knights must root out the enemy – are their traitors amongst his own family and friends? Henry’s life is complicated by his father’s insistence that he marry and provide an heir, but Henry has fallen in love with fellow knight Stephan l’Aigle at a time when ‘coming-out’ was not an option. One obstacle after another threatens to tear the lovers apart and their allegiance to King Richard may destroy their families. For the faint-hearted, the sex in the book has been described as sexy and passionate and not overly graphic. This is not a romance novel – it’s a historical adventure that happens to include two people who love each other. For King and Country is Book II of my Battle Scars series, but both books work as stand-alones, and provide the ‘seeds’ of a Robin Hood legend.


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

I am currently writing Book III in the Battle Scars series, Swords of the King. I may return to my SciFi roots after Swords is published, and also hope to continue my version of the Robin Hood legend.


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