Did you know that The Kraken Collective is a year old now? To celebrate our first anniversary, we got together with some fantastic fellow indie writers to celebrate queer indie books. We’ve got a whole week’s worth of shinies in store for you as well as a quiz for you to check out which of our characters you’re most like. Go take the quiz, see if you’re most like Michelle’s character Rehua, and share the result with your friends! You might find your all-time favourite read because of it! 😀 You can find more details and all participating authors and books by visiting the Kraken Collective website.
Today I’m absolutely delighted to welcome Michelle Kan to the blog for a guest interview! Their debut, No More Heroes, is currently on sale for $0.99 cents, so be sure to grab it while you can! Before we get to the interview, though, let me give you the synopsis for the book. Be sure to also watch the book trailer!
About No More Heroes
The peaceful nights are kept under the clandestine and watchful eye of young, gifted vigilantes the world over. But a sudden rash of vigilante deaths heralds the arrival of a new and unfamiliar enemy – one whose motive is as unclear as their identity. Someone or something seems determined to disturb the peace, and they’re going straight for the watchmen to do it.
In a city where those who are gifted make up their own rules, who will step forward when the threat of a swift end is real and there stands so little to gain?
No More Heroes is an urban fantasy action/adventure novel about young would-be heroes who get more than they bargained for when they delve deeper into a world they never knew they were a part of.
Featuring a diverse cast of players, discord, a mystery to be solved, plenty of literary action and high-stakes battles, No More Heroes is a story about self-belief and camaraderie, persistence in the face of trials, and what it means to be the best version of yourself.
LEO: Hi, Michelle! Welcome to the blog. ^_^ I’ve been greatly enjoying No More Heroes to date. I’ve not read a lot of superhero (or superhero-esque) fiction myself. Can you tell us a little bit about the book?
MK: Hi, Lynn! Thanks for having me – I’m glad you’re enjoying the ride so far. And sure! No More Heroes is an urban fantasy action adventure novel about a trio of friends with supernatural powers who come into contact with the Vigilantes – a secret community of youths whose members possess incredible Abilities just like theirs. These Vigilantes use their unique capabilities to take down crime and protect their cities by night. But a new and mysterious force sees Vigilantes across the nation being picked off one by one, and our trio find that playing the hero isn’t all that they thought it would be!
LEO: As part of this special promotion event, you chose to focus on the character Rehua. Why did you choose him to focus on?
MK: Rehua’s an important character for many reasons and I think it was about time I highlighted that! Since No More Heroes is an urban fantasy set in a loosely NZ-based setting, I felt it was important that we see a Māori character and see Māori language and values represented in the story in a positive and inclusive way.
Within the story of No More Heroes, Rehua is effectively the catalyst for the story’s events, binds the cast together, and provides invaluable support during the course of the mission. But in the grander scheme of things, he’s also a character of Māori descent who isn’t characterised as a negative stereotype – rather, he’s a gentle-natured healer and a takatāpui (queer) character who is deeply connected to his heritage and integrates his Māoritanga into his personal as well as Vigilante life.
Also he seems to be an audience favourite and is just a really great dude in general. I love him, haha.
LEO: Rehua is definitely a delightful character and up there with my faves from the book as well. He isn’t the only POC starring in No More Heroes, though. You’ve got a wonderfully diverse cast of characters. Can you tell us a little more about the other characters too?
MK: And what an ensemble they are! The primary characters of No More Heroes are Clare, Linus and Mallory – three longtime friends who recently acquired their Abilities and have just became aware of the existence of the Vigilante community. In contrast to their inexperience, we have…
Resonance and Shockwave, Rehua’s teammates. The three of them make for an experienced trio of Vigilantes with a tight (if sometimes complex) camaraderie, and are very much aware of the morally grey area they tread in the work they do. Then there’s the Urban Legend…
Fisticuffs – a Vigilante Army-of-One notorious for working alone, but who may have to make some tough decisions when it turns out the City is being threatened by a new enemy. That force being…
The Vigilante Killers. Who are they and what are they after? No one seems to know, and their apparent formidability makes for an intimidating force to oppose.
Because of No More Heroes’ setting, I was keen to see characters that reflected the ethnic diversity of NZ, and in particular the diaspora with the longer/longest histories in Wellington (my home). So in our main cast we have Māori, Pacific and Asian characters, as well as characters of Greek, Dutch, Scottish and Polish descent – a combination not often seen in US/UK/EU lit! Many of them are also queer (most falling somewhere on the ace and/or aro spectrums, but with gay/lesbian and bi/questioning also in attendance), and all them are characterised by unique Abilities as well as movement and fighting styles, which is a big part of the visual language I use when it comes to character creation.
LEO: A lot of the reviews I’ve seen of No More Heroes describe it as a superhero story, only not quite. How do you feel about that? Does that description match up to what you wanted the book to be?
MK: This is exactly the vibe I was going for, haha! I’ve always been more interested in creating anti-heroes than traditional cape-and-tights ‘hero’ characters, as in traditional superhero archetype – but conversely, I’ve never been into super dark and angsty characters of everything-is-horrible-and-humanity-sucks dystopia superfiction either.
My goal with No More Heroes was to strike a balance with a story that entertains and makes you feel excited with its optimistic superhero action-like qualities, but also has a sense of sobriety to it that falls in the space between high-energy and super-angst narratives. My characters possess ‘superpowers’ and fight crime, but are morally grey (and self-aware so) and neither traditionally heroic or villainous in their conflicts or motivations. ‘Superhero, but not quite’ is totally the No More Heroes story and I’m glad that came across to at least a few readers.
LEO: No More Heroes is, I believe, the first in a series. Are you enjoying working on the sequel and can you give readers a glimpse of what to expect going forward?
MK: I am definitely loving working on the sequel, though it is turning out to be a much bigger beast than I anticipated, haha. In book 2, Team City will be thrown into a whole new mission with whole new stakes… regardless of whether or not they’re healed enough from their last adventure. We’ll see old enemies making a reappearance and unlikely alliances being formed – new aspects of the Vigilante community will be explored, and a dangerous new antagonist may prove to be more than our intrepid Vigilantes can handle.
Additionally, I’ll be fleshing out a lot more of my characters’ backstories and non-Vigilante lives, as well as the worldbuilding of the No More Heroes universe, so Look Out For All That, Coming 2018!
LEO: Oooooooooh… On a slightly different topic… Your interest in parkour was also a great influence on No More Heroes. Which of the characters in the book was most influenced by your experiences with parkour?
MK: Oh absolutely, haha. Team Seismic (Resonance, Shockwave and Rehua) are all parkour practitioners and incorporate the lessons they’ve learned from their time training into their Vigilante duties. But the one most influenced by my personal journey with parkour is Resonance, hands down. Though the specifics are different, the physical and mental aspects of parkour are things that have helped us both through anxiety and difficult times in our lives, and the philosophies interwoven into the discipline (as it happens, philosophies with roots in traditional Chinese ideals!) continue to guide and support us in our day-to-day lives.
Her individual movement style is the closest of Team Seismic’s to mine (with Shockwave’s and Rehua’s drawn directly from friends of mine) – although Resonance is much better and much cooler at it than me, haha.
LEO: As the story deals with Vigilantes, if you were to get caught up in a cape-fight, which of your characters would you most like to have your back?
MK: Good question! I reckon Resonance would be my first pick – her Ability makes her a versatile fighter, but she’s also got the experience and quick wit to really make the most of it. A possible novella on how she met Shockwave and Rehua is on the cards, as well as a solo special in a short story anthology, so fans of Resonance and all her Chinese genderfluid aro/ace glory should keep an eye out!
LEO: Thanks so much for visiting, Michelle! It’s been a delight to have you stop by. Everyone else, I hope this whetted your appetite for No More Heroes because it’s still on sale until February 1st and you’ll definitely want to read the first book before diving into the second later this year. You can pick up a copy from Amazon, Gumroad or the official No More Heroes website (where you can get signed copies!).
Michelle Kan is an independent filmmaker/videographer and writer basedin Wellington, New Zealand. No More Heroes is her debut novel and was initially written during her first National Novel Writing Month in 2014.Michelle is passionate about the arts, exploring her cultural heritage through her creative output, and is a lover of graphic novels, video games, action/martial arts films and parkour/movement disciplines – all profound influences which helped her shape the world and characters of No More Heroes.Michelle can be found at facebook.com/fishandswallow