Jeramey Kraatz stopped by the Café to introduce himself and his new book, The Cloak Society. I am excited about reading this book because I love super villains! Especially super villains who are really good guys at heart.
[Manga Maniac Cafe] Describe yourself in 140 characters or less.
[Jeramey Kraatz] Writer, Reader, and all-around nerd. Avocado and cat enthusiast (separately). Likes to pretend he’s in music videos when no one’s around.
[Manga Maniac Cafe] Can you tell us a little about The Cloak Society?
[Jeramey Kraatz] Of course! The book follows Alex Knight, a 12-year-old boy with telekinetic powers born into The Cloak Society—a secret team of supervillains in Texas. Alex is fourth-generation Cloak, so he’s got a lot to live up to. Cloak was defeated ten years ago by the Rangers of Justice, a team of much-loved superheroes, and now the villains have been lying in wait, looking for the perfect moment to enact their revenge.
Alex is part of the Beta Team—the other Cloak Society members around his age—and the book starts off on their first mission, which should be a routine bank heist. But it goes terribly awry when the heroes show up and Alex saves the life of a Junior Ranger named Kirbie. From there, Alex’s world gets…complicated.
[Manga Maniac Cafe] How did you come up with the concept and the characters for the story?
[Jeramey Kraatz] The initial concept came from me joking around with another writer about genre adaptations of Shakespearean works. I proposed a superhero Romeo and Juliet where instead of the Montagues and Capulets you had, say, the Masters of Evil and the Avengers. Weeks went by and I couldn’t get the premise out of my head. The problem was that to make the story compelling, I’d have to make the supervillain lead likeable in some way, which was the idea/challenge I really latched onto—I didn’t want to write a run-of-the-mill superhero origin story like I’d read in comics and seen in movies countless times. As the world and characters got fleshed out, the Shakespeare fell away, and Alex and the Cloak Society became the focus of the novel.
Character creation was so much fun for this book since most of the main cast has superpowers. They came about in two ways: Either I had a superpower I wanted to use in the mix and had to think “What would a person who could control temperatures act like,” or it was the opposite, and I had a character in mind and had to find a power that complemented their personality. I wanted to make sure that all of the powers in some way reflected who these characters are, to have shaped them in some way.
[Manga Maniac Cafe] What three words best describe Alex?
[Jeramey Kraatz] Full. Of. Potential. I think that’s probably cheating, but it couldn’t be more apt.
[Manga Maniac Cafe] What are three things Alex would never have in his pocket?
[Jeramey Kraatz] 1. Keys (Cloak’s security system is SO beyond simple locks)
2. A cell phone (too traceable)
3. A lockpick (he’s got telekinetic powers—he’s totally outgrown those)
[Manga Maniac Cafe] If Alex had a theme song, what would it be?
[Jeramey Kraatz] Young Men Dead by The Black Angels. The guitar line is kind of creepy and foreboding, and the lyrics are really battle oriented. I listened to it a lot when working on the first draft. Bonus points for being a Texas band!
[Manga Maniac Cafe] What are your greatest creative influences?
[Jeramey Kraatz] For this book, I’m definitely drawing on a lifetime of reading comics. It probably shows on every page, in every little nod or Easter egg dropped in that only comic book readers will pick up on. Joss Whedon’s work, for sure. Claremont’s “Dark Phoenix Saga” is probably the biggest influence in terms of specific stories. I interned at Marvel in the X-Men editorial department while I was in grad school, and seeing how big story arcs were scripted and planned was definitely invaluable when I was working on the original outline.
[Manga Maniac Cafe] What three things do you need in order to write?
[Jeramey Kraatz] Caffeine, room to pace, and snack rewards. I’m very food motivated. Finish a chapter, and I get the piece of cake. I always feel really out of shape by the time I finish a big draft or edit.
[Manga Maniac Cafe] What is the last book that you read that knocked your socks off?
[Jeramey Kraatz] I finally got around to reading Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell by Susanna Clarke after years of staring at it on my bookshelf and being scared by its size. It was such a complex, engrossing novel…probably the first time in a while that I’ve finished a book and immediately thought “I have to read that again.”
[Manga Maniac Cafe] If you had to pick one book that turned you on to reading, which would it be?
[Jeramey Kraatz] I learned to read using The Foot Book and never stopped.
[Manga Maniac Cafe] What do you like to do when you aren’t writing?
[Jeramey Kraatz] Reading a ton, from comics to YA to scholarly nonfiction—I try to keep it varied. I’m a sucker for bad horror movies and Netflix TV marathons. I work in the anime industry, so as part of my job I sometimes get to watch cartoons all day. So really, I’m living the geek dream.
[Manga Maniac Cafe] How can readers connect with you?
[Jeramey Kraatz] I’m all over the place. You can contact me directly through jerameykraatz.com, or follow me on twitter @jerameykraatz. I love hearing from other readers and writers, so feel free to be get in touch with me!
[Manga Maniac Cafe] Thank you!
You can preorder The Cloak Society from your favorite bookseller, or by clicking the widget below. Available in print and digital.