Wednesday, April 06, 2011

TALES OF THE DIM KNIGHT by Adam and Andrea Graham

Order Tales of the Dim Knight from Amazon Order Author Signed Copy from Cross Purposes $10.95 US (plus $3 shipping) Order the Kindle version (Readable on iPad and other devices) Order other eBook formats from Smashwords (PDF, mobi, rtf, lrf, etc.)

* I received a printed and Kindle copy of the book for the purposes of this book tour *

What's not to like about a super-hero who's a regular guy, except for the costume and super powers, and with the same worries as most people today; mortgage, getting ready for work, making time for family? Comic book ultra-fan Dave Johnson is granted special powers by an alien in a FBI closet. Now he has two jobs. Clean up the FBI building by night, and clean up area crime by day and during his free time. When's a poor super hero supposed to sleep?

Things go from bad to worse for Dave. His two sons feel forgotten, and his banker wife, Naomi, is convinced Dave has a new love interest. Dave keeps it all to himslef as he knows from his comic books what happens to a super-heroe's family when their secret identity is discovered. Along the way Dave discovers a bit more about himself, and finds he must face hard choices and harder regrets. I wasn't sure what to expect at first as I opened Tales of the Dim Knight. Was the book a medieval story with the usual wry Graham wit, or a space-opera judging by the cover image? Actually it was both in a way. A space alien resided in special bracelet inside a top secret closet at the FBI. The creature granted the main character fantastic abilities in the hopes of achieving his own gains. Every gift has its price, and this gift reminded me of the old saying about beware of aliens bearing gifts, or something to that effect. There wasn't a lot of action at the beginning of the book and I began to wonder when Dave would take up his super-hero mantle like movie super-heroes. But then, real life isn't as fast paced as in the movies. Dave didn't want to rush into his new crime-fighting job. He needed a persona. He needed an outfit. He needed a name. Dave was slow and careful at first, there were a lot of decisions to make. Through the story Dave grows a little as a hero, and a lot as a person. His response to a personal tragedy is to create a new hero who can respond with darker actions. A child's response makes Dave see a side of himself he doesn't like. Tales of the Dim Knight spoofs some of the directions society would have us move. When his wife, Naomi, is convinced Dave's unexplained absences could only mean another woman is involved, she turns to s self-help/divorce guru for help. When Dave tries to fight crime, he's hit with threats of legal action and red-tape from City Hall. when he trie to enforce one law, he's given a ticket for breaking another law. I also enjoyed some of the names involved. A group of super-heroes in New York join forces to combat terrorists with a nuclear bomb. I especially liked Captain France, Half-Brain, and The Group with No Name. It seemed like the authors had a fun time writing Tales of the Dim Knight, and I enjoyed reading it.

Interview: Where did you get the idea for your latest book, Tales of the Dim Knight? I've always loved well-done spoofs. I was a huge fan of "The Tick" growing up. So I decided to sit down at the keyboard and indulge in poking fun at as many superhero conventions as I could. Little things like "plot" came later. I noticed the main character, Dave Johnson, works as a night custodian for the FBI. Did you want to create a relatable hero with a believable job rather than another multimillionaire hero in a cape who runs around the city? I did think we had far too many single superheroes with large amounts of disposable cash. I wanted to explore how an ordinary person with a house, a wife, and a mortgage payment would manage. Plus I had the issue of introducing our hero to Zolgron, the symbiotic alien. The final scene of Raiders of the Lost Ark inspired me to decide Dave would be the janitor of a warehouse containing top secret stuff the FBI didn't want people to know about. Did you have any other places in mind when you chose the story location? I chose the city of Seattle as the location for most of the action because, for whatever reason, there's some East Coast bias on the Superhero front. Every major superhero is from New York or some New York-like city such as Gotham City or Metropolis. Though, Dave's hometown of Bryerton is the scene of some action, and, at first, I had the story set in the real city of Bremerton . But our research turned up some things about Bremerton that simply wouldn't work. I also fictionalized New York City as Megalopolis after we ran into a problem with an out-of-town scene involving the Empire State Building . We later cut that scene. However we'd already changed the book and it was a nice parody of Metropolis. How did you chose the names for the book's super-heroes and super-villains? I don’t struggle with coming up with names. If they don't work, Andrea renames them. :) Seriously, regarding Dave Johnson’s name and his family’s names, that was just what their names were. The superheroes and supervillains were challenging. The chapter where Dave searches for a superhero name was based loosely on my own search for a name that hadn't been taken by another superhero/supervillain. While it probably wouldn't be grounds for anything legal, I wanted to avoid any potential trouble. I think I succeeded. Although, I did find out after I'd written the book that there was a youth group somewhere named "Powerhouse." Andrea does seriously edit a lot of the names I choose for various reasons. She'll change names if she doesn't think it sounds right for the character, per the time she changed the name of an action hero of mine from Smithers to Snyder.) She also changes names too similar to another character’s name or if I chose a name she feels I’ve overused between manuscripts, or if the meaning or origin of the name does not suit the character, such as when I gave a proud second generation Italian-American mobster the Portuguese name Marcos, which Andrea changed to the Italian name Marco. From the comic book characters and storylines mentioned, it sounds like you know quite a bit about the genre yourself. Did you grow up on a steady diet of comic books yourself, and who were your favorites? My dad was actually pretty strict and wouldn't let me and my younger brother read comic books other than Disney ones or very old comics. We once picked up a huge stack of comics from the 1950s for about a dime each from a pawn shop. But I understand Dad’s decision. A lot of comic books have turned dark and cynical. Although, some new kid friendly lines have come out in recent years. However, my younger brother and I were allowed to watch Superhero movies and TV shows, and that I did quite a bit of. I was fortunate to be a teenager in the 1990s when there was a plethora of You-name-it: the Animated Series. Spider-man, Batman, Superman, Darkwing Duck, and the Ninja Turtles all captured my imagination. I was also a huge fan of the live action Zorro series and loved Lois and Clark : The New Adventures of Superman. I delighted at the adventures of old cartoon superheroes, too, including Hong Kong Fooey and Underdog. Curiosity led me to study up on the history of superheroes, which provided much of my understanding of their stories. And to think my parents thought I was vegging out. Little did they know that I was doing research. Any plans for a sequel or related stories? In the initial draft of Tales of the Dim Knight, the ending foreclosed the possibility of a sequel, or at least made it pretty hard for there to be one.) However, when Andrea and I were working through the rewrite last summer, she suggested a more open-ended finale and I agreed, since I have had some ideas for a sequel. I've found superhero plots that we hadn't parodied yet, such as time travel, alternate universes, a shrink ray, and our hero losing his sight (temporarily.) We haven’t really taken on the super-powered super villain or kryptonite yet, either. I've also debated spinning off a book or two about the detective character that makes his entrance towards the end of the book, which sort of makes him a parody of using an existing superhero series to test the pilot of a new hero. Thanks for your time, Mr. Graham.

Other Tales of the Dim Knight Blog Tours:

3/20 David James This review includes a contest. Rack up the most points to win an autographed copy of Dim Knight! 3/27 David James interviewed Powerhouse, Emerald Avenger, and Dave Johnson. 4/3/ Phyllis Wheeler 4/4/ Noah Arsenault 4/4/ Sarah Sawyer 4/5/ Tammy Shelnut

4/7 Joan Nienhuis 4/8 Carol E. Keen 4/9/ April Erwin 4/11 Morgan L. Busse 4/14/ Emily LaVigne 4/15 Chawna Schroeder 4/22 Frank Creed 4/28/ Beckie Burnham 5/3/ Amy Cruson

Be sure to visit the other blogs for more on this enjoyable book!

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