Barbra Dillon, Fanbase Press Editor-in-Chief: Congratulations on the upcoming release of Transformer Kit! For those who may be unfamiliar, how would you describe the book’s premise?
S. T. Blake: Thanks for the congratulations! It was a fun book to write. The book’s set in the early days of the '70s New York punk scene. It’s a place of extreme and outlandish characters and a time of squalor and political turmoil, when the city was on the brink of bankruptcy. The premise is - what if a hero emerged from amongst those extreme and outlandish punk rock characters, a proper hero trying to save the city and wearing a cape and a gold Zorro mask? How outrageous would that hero be? The answer turned out to be very.
BD: What can you share with us about your creative process in bringing the story to life, and what (or who) have been some of your creative influences?
STB: The story’s setting in '70s New York came about by chance because I was reading a book called Please Kill Me by Legs McNeil and Gillian McCain which collects all these stories about great New York bands such as The Velvet Underground, New York Dolls, and The Ramones. Reading it, I thought what a great setting for a story – all those seedy, gritty clubs and bars as NYC seemed to be crumbling, and all these characters who are finding new ways to express their true selves. Of course, I was listening to the music as I read the book and gradually a sort of superhero story started forming in my head featuring versions of the characters from Lou Reed’s Transformer album, the first New York Dolls album, and Please Kill Me. So, those elements, plus the Daredevil and Spider-Man comics I read growing up, became the main inspirations for Transformer Kit. As for more bookish influences, you could include Vicious by V. E. Schwab or Watchmen by Alan Moore.
BD: If given the opportunity, do you foresee expanding the world of the book or its characters into subsequent stories?
STB: Yes, Transformer Kit is book 1 of the Mantle Series. Book 2 is called Feline Alchemy and is also available now, with Book 3 appearing soon. The published books also include freebie novellas for readers to download. So, Transformer Kit comes with links to a free book called New York Nemesis which expands the original story in a surprising way. (I was watching Marvel’s “What if…” series on Netflix and that gave me the idea for the twist of this extra story, which I’d never have thought of otherwise.)
BD: At Fanbase Press, our #StoriesMatter initiative endeavors to highlight the impact that stories can have on audiences of various mediums. How do you feel that this story will connect with and impact readers?
STB: Transformer Kit has lots of humour, and so I suppose it’s what you’d call a mock-heroic story. But, at heart, the heroism is also kind of real because it’s about celebrating individualism and all those quirks that make a person unique, and embracing the value of those quirks. The hero of Transformer Kit is transgender, and it’s that part of his personality that accounts for his ability to embrace the strange powers that fate thrusts upon him (without going too far into spoiler territory).
BD: Are there any upcoming projects on which you are currently working that you would like to share with our readers?
STB: As I mentioned, I’m currently polishing Book 3 of the Mantle Series which will see the characters from the first two books working through those classic team-up/pitch battle dynamics as they either try to take over the world or else try to save it… Tbh, they seem a bit conflicted about what their motives are a lot of the time!
BD: Lastly, what is the best way for our readers to find more information about Transformer Kit and your other work?
STB: I’m online at stblake.com where readers can find out about my other books or just drop by and say hello – I’m always glad to get recommendations about new writers I might fall in love with, or music, for that matter. And you can find out more about the Mantle Series on Amazon here.