Sean Cummings dropped by the virtual offices to chat about his new release, Poltergeeks. Check out what he has to say!
[Manga Maniac Cafe] Describe yourself in 140 characters or less.
[Sean Cummings] Middle-aged introvert with obsessive compulsive tendencies. Life long cat person who is morphing into the crazy old man on your street.
[Manga Maniac Cafe] Can you tell us a little about Poltergeeks?
[Sean Cummings] Poltergeeks is book with a strong female protagonist who is snarky, fearless, loyal to those closest to her and who is desperate to prove herself to her over protective mother. It’s a book that is brooding vampire-free where there are romantic elements that differ from a lot of the love triangle formula you see in many young adult books these days. Julie and her best friend Marcus are quintessential geeks (Marcus, more so) who are quite happy about their social standing and comfortable in their own skin. There’s a bit of high school in the book but most of the story takes place on the streets of my hometown of Calgary. The reader is introduced to some very eccentric characters and Betty Priddy tops the list – she’s a blast to write about and the fact that she’s an immortal spirit who steals bodies at death’s door so she can manifest in the mortal plane creates a couple of interesting choices by which she pops into Julie’s life. This is a fun and funny story that gets very dark, very quickly. It’s non-stop action because the clock is ticking for Julie if she plans to save her mother’s life.
[Manga Maniac Cafe] How did you come up with the concept and the characters for the story?
[Sean Cummings] The book started with the title, actually. The word POLTERGEEKS just popped into my head and I started jotting down ideas. Given that it’s been nearly thirty years since I was in high school I took a gamble when I decided to write something aimed at young adults and I wanted to make the characters as genuine as possible. So there’s mother-daughter angst. There’s a protagonist who wants very much to prove herself. There’s a missing piece to my protagonist’s life in that her father died when she was very young. All of this started to gel once I sat down and worked on an outline and the actual plot took shape very quickly once I sat down with a sheet of paper and a pencil. I wanted to write something different than a lot of urban fantasy featuring teenagers, so I adopted a mindset very quickly that my characters, though low on the social scale at school should still be quite comfortable with their standing in life. In Julie you have the hero’s journey. In Marcus, you have the Watson to Julie’s Sherlock Holmes.
[Manga Maniac Cafe] What three words best describe Julie?
[Sean Cummings] Feisty. Fearless. Irresponsible at times. Grounded in her friendships. Extremely loyal. Extremely self-sufficient. Comfortable in her own skin. She’s also a very, very powerful witch – more so than other witches her age. And finally, she’s snarky. A good female protagonist in an urban fantasy needs to be snarky, and Julie’s level of snark jumps right off the page.
[Manga Maniac Cafe] What are three things Marcus would never have in his pocket?
[Sean Cummings] That’s a good question. He would never have car keys in his pocket because he’s all about saving the planet. He wouldn’t have a Starbucks gift card because he hates evil corporate entities save for McDonald’s. He wouldn’t carry lip balm unless he’s analyzed its chemical components first.
[Manga Maniac Cafe] What is Julie’s single most prized possession?
[Sean Cummings] The faint, wispy memories of her late father who died when she was four. He’s the missing piece in her life – his non-presence has shaped the person that she’s becoming. His legacy is coming back to haunt her in a very dark and dangerous way.
[Manga Maniac Cafe] What are your greatest creative influences?
[Sean Cummings] Comic books top the list. Anything written by Alan Moore because he re-imagined what a comic book can possibly be with Watchmen. Stephen King, obviously, but also authors like Robert R. McCammon, John Saul and Simon R. Green. Believe it or not, Buffy didn’t influence me, though I did enjoy the show immensely.
[Manga Maniac Cafe] What three things do you need in order to write?
[Sean Cummings] 1) Silence. I need absolute silence. 2) Coffee. I need that kick start first thing in the morning. 3) Early morning. I can’t write after twelve in the afternoon. I’m a morning person and my creative juices are always flowing when I’ve crawled out of bed to begin pounding away at the keyboard.
[Manga Maniac Cafe] What is the last book that you read that knocked your socks off?
[Sean Cummings] The one that stands out the most is BLACKBIRDS by Chuck Wendig. I believe that in Miriam Black, Wendig has completely re-written the rules for what’s possible in dark fantasy with a strong female protagonist. Like, completely and utterly demolished them. No, I’m serious. He hopped his ass into a Sherman Tank and bloody well smashed through them with his main cannon firing. Miriam Black is unbelievably damaged goods – she touches your skin, she sees your death. BOOM! How can that NOT mess your mind up? How can you NOT smoke a three packs of cigarettes a day or guzzle whiskey to numb everything. It’s gritty, frightening and at times downright hilarious. This is the first book in a long time where I don’t have a bloody clue the direction the main character is going to go because Miriam doesn’t really have a clue where her life is leading her either. BLACKBIRDS is the best book of the year – hand’s down. I expect you’re going to see a lot of authors writing books with similar style characters because they’ve been influenced by Wendig’s writing. God knows, I have.
[Manga Maniac Cafe] If you had to pick one book that turned you on to reading, which would it be?
[Sean Cummings] Oh that’s easy. WHEN THE WIND BLOWS by John Saul. It’s the first "adult" book I ever read and the irony is that its main characters are children. All of Saul’s books deal with themes that can resonate with someone writing young adult. The setting is always a small town where everyone knows each other. There’s always something dark and terrible in that house two blocks away from your house. There’s always something evil lurking in the shadows and it usually revolves around young people.
[Manga Maniac Cafe] What do you like to do when you aren’t writing?
[Sean Cummings] I’m a massive English football fan. Love love love the game! So I watch it on the dish Saturday and Sunday mornings at an obscenely early hour when I should be writing. I like to hang out with my son. I read, obviously. I watch a lot of science fiction and fantasy with the better half. I basically immerse myself in being a happy middle aged man who lives in a nice neighborhood (finally).
[Manga Maniac Cafe] How can readers connect with you?
[Sean Cummings] I’m on Twitter (saskatoonauthor). My website is sean-cummings.ca. I’m on Facebook. My email is info AT sean DASH cummings DOT ca.
[Manga Maniac Cafe] Thank you!
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