“Inspirations and Influences” is a series of articles in which we invite authors to write guest posts talking about their Inspirations and Influences. In this feature, we invite writers to talk about their new books, older titles, and their writing overall.
Tomorrow, we publish the third story in the Year of the Superhero season: “How To Piss Off a Failed Super-Soldier” by John Chu. Today, John tells us a little bit about the Inspirations & Influences behind the story.
Please give it up for John!
It is February of 1992 and the musical Crazy for You has just opened on Broadway. It stars Harry Groener. He will go on to play Mayor Wilkins in Buffy the Vampire Slayer but, for now, he is the best tap dancer headlining on Broadway. Two months later, Jelly’s Last Jam opens. It stars Gregory Hines. Yeah. Harry’s reign lasts for all of two months. Since Harry Groener isn’t nearly as famous as Gregory Hines, I’ve always felt a little bad that he didn’t get more time in this particular limelight. (Note: He probably didn’t even care.)
I’m in high school and it’s Health class. The teacher–she may have been a substitute–talks about some soccer player whose legs are so strong, that he broke his femur kicking a ball during a game. Nowadays, I only remember remembering this. So, for all I know, I may have made this up.
Inspirations are tricky and, sometimes, it isn’t until after I’ve written the story that I recognize what inspired it. When I do realize what my inspirations are, they may turn out to be far-flung. “How to Piss Off a Failed Super-Soldier” was inspired, in part, by Harry Groener being superseded by Gregory Hines and also by some guy who broke his leg kicking a soccer ball. The story isn’t, however, about Harry Groener, Gregory Hines, or that soccer player. What happened to them informs Aitch, who’s not a tap-dancing soccer player but, rather, the failed super-soldier of the title.
Also, I wanted to poke at a specific sort of relationship between two siblings. Aitch and Jay are two brothers who seem like they should have killed each other by now and yet they somehow never do. They keep pulling each other out of scrapes instead. Since they, especially Aitch, are afflicted with at least a touch of the macho, neither of them has ever bothered to admit what the other means to him. Put them in a situation where Aitch must trust Jay and things get interesting.
Ultimately, the story swirls around the intersection of trust and love. Not only must Aitch navigate issues of love and trust with his brother but also with the man who is absolutely, totally, completely not his boyfriend in any way shape or form. Of course, at the same time, he’s also fending off daily assassination attempts. I mean, how else would you piss off a failed super-soldier?
How to Get the Book
How To Piss Off A Failed Super-Soldier will be published officially on July 12, 2016, when it will be available for free in full on this here blog. You can buy the ebook (EPUB & MOBI) from all major retailers online and directly from us right now! The ebook contains the short story, as well as a Q&A and essay with the author. Bonus: The short story is also included in our very first Quarterly Almanac, available in print and ebook today.
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