Friday, May 26, 2017

Book Tour and Giveaway: Behind the Mask by Various Authors


New Superhero Stories Are Possible!Lately, I've been feeling like we've reached peak superhero. Hundreds of comics titles, dozens of TV shows and movies. It's almost easier to talk about what characters haven't gotten screen time than it is about the ones who have.  In some cases, we even have multiple screen versions of the same character. In twenty years movies and TV have gone from only having nipple-suit Batman, to having too much to keep track of.
Is there room for any more superhero stories?
Why yes, of course there is.
What a silly question.In fact, I think superheroes in prose is a great unexplored frontier. Prose is the one place where we can really get inside the minds of superheroes and see what makes them tick.  The place where we can push boundaries and be subversive, get past the explosions and massive duels overthe skies of Manhattan, the four-color Lycra suits and super-team ups, to figure out what all this really means.
I feel like there are two ways for a writer in any medium to approach the topic of superheroes. First, the traditional: The hero faces the villain, confronts their own weaknesses, finds their own strength through their amazing otherworldly powers, and fights to protect the weak, to defend goodness and justice. This might seem tired and cliché, but I think a writer who can come along and tell a great, amazing version of this tried-and-true story has immense, praiseworthy talent. (Captain America: The First Avenger, anyone?)
Then there's the second approach, which is to ask a bunch of questions about superheroes that no one ever thought to ask before. Consider that maybe the hero isn't the hero, and the villain might have something going on under the surface. Wonder what the families and friends of these characters must be like. Figure out who does Superman's dry cleaning, and consider that maybe there's a good reason no one recognizes him when Clark Kent is wearing glasses.
I've been writing superhero stories for a while now, starting with my novel After the Golden Age,in which a forensic accountant -- and not her superpowered parents -- saves the day. I gotta tell you, once you start telling superhero stories, it's hard to stop. (Millions upon millions of comic books...)  Once you build a superhero world, once you start populating it, the questions keep coming. My story for Behind the Mask, "Origin Story," is set in the same world as After the Golden Age.  There's a villain -- but he wasn't always a villain. Not long ago, he was a kid in high school. And it doesn't matter if he's wearing a mask, his old girlfriend would know that face anywhere...
Yeah, these are the stories that are going to keep this genre going for a good long time
Behind the Mask
by Kelly Link, Carrie Vaughn, Seanan McGuire, Cat Rambo, Lavie Tidhar and others



Behind the Mask is a multi-author collection with stories by award-winning authors Kelly Link, Cat Rambo, Carrie Vaughn, Seanan McGuire, Lavie Tidhar, Sarah Pinsker, Keith Rosson, Kate Marshall, Chris Large and others. It is partially, a prose nod to the comic world—the bombast, the larger-than-life, the save-the-worlds and the calls-to-adventure. But it’s also a spotlight on the more intimate side of the genre. The hopes and dreams of our cape-clad heroes. The regrets and longings of our cowled villains. That poignant, solitary view of the world that can only be experienced from behind the mask.



Behind the Mask is a multi-author collection with stories by award-winning authors Kelly Link, Cat Rambo, Carrie Vaughn, Seanan McGuire, Lavie Tidhar, Sarah Pinsker, Keith Rosson, Kate Marshall, Chris Large and others. It is partially, a prose nod to the comic world—the bombast, the larger-than-life, the save-the-worlds and the calls-to-adventure. But it’s also a spotlight on the more intimate side of the genre. The hopes and dreams of our cape-clad heroes. The regrets and longings of our cowled villains. That poignant, solitary view of the world that can only be experienced from behind the mask.



Origin Story by Carrie Vaughn

Living in Commerce City, odds are you’re going to get caught up in something someday—pinned down in the crossfire of some epic battle between heroes who can fly and villains with ray guns, held captive in a hostage crisis involving an entire football stadium, or even trapped by a simple jewelry heist or bus hijacking.

When my turn came, I got stuck in a bank robbery.

I was waiting in line to make a deposit when a hole opened up in the ceiling. A glowing green laser light traced a perfect circle, and that section of ceiling dropped to the floor, scattering the line of people underneath in a cloud of dust and noise. I was too far back to really see what was happening, just that there was debris and screaming, some of which might have been mine. Then Techhunter rappelled through the hole, wielding a laser pistol and shouting at everyone to get down and lie still.  We did.

He was just one guy.  No henchmen, no partners. That was Techhunter’s M.O. in the news stories I’d read.  He worked alone, with only his machines as backup.  This time, he had a swarm of hovering metallic balls zooming down the hole in the ceiling with him.  They fanned out around the room and trained tiny cannons on everyone.  They probably shot lasers or tranquilizer darts.  Surely in a place like Commerce City, with so many vigilantes and criminal gangs battling each other, bank tellers would be trained how to handle situations like this, but the ones here all stepped back from their counters, arms in the air, staring at Techhunter with trembling gazes.  As if they didn’t live in Commerce City, where this kind of thing happened on a monthly basis at least.

Techhunter didn’t ask for the manager to open any safes; he just drilled through the locks with his laser pistol, collected cash, and emptied a pair of safety deposit boxes into a hard-sided case.  He wore wide goggles that hid most of his face, and a headset with all kinds of wires and antennae sticking from it, probably what he used to control all his devices. His suit was made of some slick material, supple as leather but appearing to be much stronger, probably armored. Pants, tall boots, padded shirt, and a fitted trenchcoat, all in a midnight blue so dark it looked black, except when the light caught it right.

Everyone cowered. Except me. I couldn’t help it, because by that time, I’d had a chance to really look at him. The superhero stalker website Rooftop Watch had posted a half dozen or so pictures of Techhunter over the last couple of years, blurry action shots in semi-darkness, and I hadn’t paid much attention because he was just another guy in a mask. Now, seeing him in person, the way he moved, smoothly and urgently, the way he studied the room and pursed his thin, slightly chapped lips—it was all familiar. I should have thought it was just a coincidence, but I was sure. Even under those face-obscuring goggles, I knew him.

Then he looked across the room at the one person not cowering in his presence. Through the goggles, he caught my gaze. His lips parted and he froze, just for a second. He knew me.

Before I could call his name—or think that maybe I shouldn’t call his name, or find any way at all to ask what the hell he was doing here, a masked villain with a super-high-tech armory—the guy next to me reached out. While I’d been staring at Techhunter, this unassuming young businessman with a goatee and a red tie had very slowly and carefully drawn a gun from inside his jacket. Was he an undercover cop or just paranoid? Didn’t know, didn’t care, because he proceeded to take aim at my old boyfriend.

I grabbed the gun out of his hand and threw it across the room. He wasn’t expecting that, and he stared at me in consternation, stammering out, “What—”

And I was kneeling there, shocked at what I had done, wondering if this made me a bad guy now. Again, Techhunter and I looked at each other, and I started to call out, “Jas—”

But he shouted me down. “You—get up!”

I knew that voice. It was definitely Jason. I stood, and then it all happened very fast. Police sirens blared—the whole incident had only started a couple of minutes ago—and some guy on a megaphone shouted at him to stand down and lower his weapons, and someone else yelled that Techhunter had a hostage. Remote gun spheres altered course to zoom toward the front of the bank and aim their weapons outward.

Techhunter—Jason?—went into action, hauling the case’s strap over his shoulder as he wrapped his arm around my waist and pulled me close. He clipped himself to the rope, then clipped me, and at some command, the thing wound up on a winch and carried us to the roof of the bank and then into his stealth hovercraft. The floating gun spheres swarmed back up with him. A dozen police cars surrounded the bank now, and cops poured out of them with weapons drawn, ready to fire until they saw me, the hostage. The hatch at the bottom of the ship closed; Jason went to the cockpit, pulled back on a control stick, and I fell over as the thing tipped back and zoomed away.

Techhunter was not known for kidnapping, but I must have been special.
I wasn’t hurt, wasn’t even scared. I was just waiting for him to stop being busy so I could ask what the hell was going on. The ship was small. The cargo area, which held the rope winch and a few equipment cases, wasn’t any bigger than the back of an SUV. The cockpit was one bucket seat surrounded by control panels, looking out through panels of a wraparound windshield.
We flew for what felt like a long time.


AUTHOR Bio and Links:

Kate Marshall lives in the Pacific Northwest with her husband and several small agents of chaos disguised as a dog, cat, and child. She works as a cover designer and video game writer. Her fiction has appeared in Beneath Ceaseless Skies, Crossed Genres, and other venues, and her YA survival thriller I Am Still Alive is forthcoming from Viking. You can find her online at

Chris Large writes regularly for Aurealis Magazine and has had fiction published in Australian speculative fiction magazines and anthologies. He's a single parent who enjoys writing stories for middle-graders and young adults, and about family life in all its forms. He lives in Tasmania, a small island at the bottom of Australia, where everyone rides Kangaroos and says 'G'day mate!' to utter strangers.

Stuart Suffel's body of work includes stories published by Jurassic London, Evil Girlfriend Media, Enchanted Conversation: A Fairy Tale Magazine, Kraxon Magazine, and Aurora Wolf among others.  He exists in Ireland, lives in the Twilight Zone, and will work for Chocolate Sambuca Ice cream. Twitter: @stuartsuffel

Michael Milne is a writer and teacher originally from Canada, who lived in Korea and China, and is now in Switzerland. Not being from anywhere anymore really helps when writing science fiction. His work has been published in The Sockdolager, Imminent Quarterly, and anthologies on Meerkat Press and Gray Whisper.

Adam R. Shannon is a career firefighter/paramedic, as well as a fiction writer, hiker, and cook. His work has been shortlisted for an Aeon award and appeared in Morpheus Tales and the SFFWorld anthology You Are Here: Tales of Cryptographic Wonders. He and his wife live in Virginia, where they care for an affable German Shepherd, occasional foster dogs, a free-range toad, and a colony of snails who live in an old apothecary jar. His website and blog are at

Jennifer Pullen received her doctorate from Ohio University and her MFA from Eastern Washington University. She originally hails from Washington State. Her fiction and poetry have appeared or are upcoming in journals including: Going Down Swinging (AU), Cleaver, Off the Coast, Phantom Drift Limited, and Clockhouse

Stephanie Lai is a Chinese-Australian writer and occasional translator. She has published long meandering thinkpieces in Peril Magazine, the Toast, the Lifted Brow and Overland. Of recent, her short fiction has appeared in the Review of Australian Fiction, Cranky Ladies of History, and the In Your Face Anthology. Despite loathing time travel, her defence of Dr Who companion Perpugilliam Brown can be found in Companion Piece (2015). She is an amateur infrastructure nerd and a professional climate change adaptation educator (she's helping you survive our oncoming climate change dystopia). You can find her on twitter @yiduiqie, at, or talking about pop culture and drop bears at

Aimee Ogden is a former biologist, science teacher, and software tester. Now she writes stories about sad astronauts and angry princesses. Her poems and short stories have appeared in Asimov's, Fantasy & Science Fiction, Daily Science Fiction,, Persistent Visions, and The Sockdolager.
Nathan Crowder is a Seattle-based fan of little known musicians, unpopular candy, and just happens to write fantasy, horror, and superheroes. His other works include the fantasy novel Ink Calls to Ink, short fiction in anthologies such as Selfies from the End of the World, and Cthulhurotica, and his numerous Cobalt City superhero stories and novels. He is still processing the death of David Bowie.

Sarah Pinsker is the author of the 2015 Nebula Award winning novelette "Our Lady of the Open Road." Her novelette "In Joy, Knowing the Abyss Behind" was the 2014 Sturgeon Award winner and a 2013 Nebula finalist. Her fiction has been published in magazines including Asimov's, Strange Horizons, Lightspeed, Fantasy & Science Fiction, and Uncanny, among others, and numerous anthologies. Her stories have been translated into Chinese, French, Spanish, Italian, and Galician. She is also a singer/songwriter with three albums on various independent labels and a fourth forthcoming. She lives in Baltimore, Maryland with her wife and dog. She can be found online at and

Carrie Vaughn is best known for her New York Times bestselling series of novels about a werewolf named Kitty, who hosts a talk radio show for the supernaturally disadvantaged, the fourteenth installment of which is Kitty Saves the World.  She's written several other contemporary fantasy and young adult novels, as well as upwards of 80 short stories.  She's a contributor to the Wild Cards series of shared world superhero books edited by George R.
R. Martin and a graduate of the Odyssey Fantasy Writing Workshop.  An Air Force brat, she survived her nomadic childhood and managed to put down roots in Boulder, Colorado.  Visit her at

Cat Rambo lives, writes, and teaches atop a hill in the Pacific Northwest. Her 200+ fiction publications include stories in Asimov’s, Clarkesworld Magazine, and The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction. She is an Endeavour, Nebula, and World Fantasy Award nominee. Her second novel, Hearts of Tabat, appears in early 2017 from Wordfire Press. She is the current President of the Fantasy and Science Fiction Writers of America. For more about her, as well as links to her fiction, see

Keith Frady writes weird short stories in a cluttered apartment in Atlanta. His work has appeared in Love Hurts: A Speculative Fiction Anthology, Literally Stories, The Yellow Chair Review, and The Breakroom Stories.



NOTE: THE PUBLISHER IS OFFERING A SPECIAL CONTEST – ONE COPY OF THE BOOK (CHOICE OF Epub or Mobi) WILL BE GIVEN AWAY TO A RANDOMLY DRAWN COMMENTER AT EVERY STOP (Drawing will be held 5 days after the stop’s date and is separate from the rafflecopter drawing – to enter, the entrant must leave a comment at the stop).  Thanks!


The authors will be awarding a $20 Amazon or Barnes and Noble GC to a randomly drawn winner via rafflecopter during the tour.

Please use this rafflecopter code on your post:


Goddess Fish Promotions said...

Thanks for hosting!

steph y said...

It sounds like a great collection.

Joseph Wallace said...

Congrats on the book tour. Do you know what your next project is? Thanks for the giveaway. I hope that I win. Bernie W BWallace1980(at)hotmail(d0t)com

Victoria Alexander said...

I enjoyed reading your post, thanks for sharing & have a great weekend :)

Joseph Wallace said...

What good books have you read recently? Thanks for the giveaway. I hope that I win. Bernie W BWallace1980(at)hotmail(d0t)com

Meerkat Press said...

Steph Y, congrats! You are the winner of the random drawing for an ebook of Behind the Mask! Contact us at to claim your prize.