By Joe Sergi, Author of Sky Girl and the Superheroic Legacy
I recently saw a review of Sky Girl and the Superheroic Legacy where the reviewer did not like the way one of the characters spoke. The book is about a teenage girl named DeDe, who develops the same super powers as a fictional comic book character named SkyBoy. Luckily, DeDe’s best friend, Jason, is a self professed comic book geek that helps her discover the origin of her powers and face the all-too-real enemies of SkyBoy. Jason uses perfect English and doesn’t use contractions, which annoyed the critic. Jason’s dialogue is intentional.
They say inspiration comes in strange ways. For Jason, it came, fittingly, from my experience at the New York ComicCon. The organizers had oversold the show and the fire marshal had stopped letting people in. Locked out, I sat on the floor to work on an early draft of Sky Girl. Instead, I found myself people watching.
I noticed all of the great shirts that people were wearing and immediately knew that Jason was going to wear a different geek shirt every day. This allowed for some great inside jokes. In the first book, the shirts are relatively straight forward with things like “Han shot first!” and “Frak!” In later books, he wears: “You can’t have manslaughter without laughter.” and “Honk if you are going to hit me!” At shows (or if you order the book through DCBService.com during June), when I sign the book, I draw different character sketches in the cover. As expected, Jason’s shirts are always different.
But, something else caught my eye while sitting on that floor. A fan with a wheeling cart full of books to be signed was getting irate about being kept off the floor. He started by calmly talking to the marshal, but soon was yelling at everyone. But, no matter how excited he got, his grammar never deteriorated, he never used a contraction, and he emphasized every syllable (think Sinatra in the younger days.) There are other people who talk similarly (a fictional example is Sheldon from Big Bang Theory), but this guy was incredible.
“This is not very fair!”
“I do not know why we cannot go in.”
“I cannot believe this. You are not very nice, kind sir.”
The entire rant was awkward, stilted, and uncomfortable. Most of all, it was perfect–Jason had his voice. I took out every one of Jason’s contractions. I read the sentences out loud stressing each syllable.”
Every editor who looked at the book tried to change Jason’s dialogue. But, like Jason’s inspiration, I would not back down. I even added lines of dialogue about the awkwardness of Jason’s diction.
So, if you pick up Sky Girl, I hope you don’t think,, “No one really talks like that”. Instead, I hope you remember my story. I would like to thank Fodder for Fiction for letting me explain Jason’s quirks.
Joe Sergi is an author who lives outside of Washington, DC with his wife, Yee, and daughter, Elizabeth. He has published short prose stories and articles in the horror, science fiction, and super hero genres. Joe has also written for comics in the romance, horror, science fiction, and super hero genres. Sky Girl and the Superheroic Legacy is his first novel. In 2008, Joe was selected as a semi-finalist in the Who Wants to Create a Superheroine contest sponsored by the Shadowline Imprint of Image Comics. When not writing, Joe works for an unnamed government agency.