Welcome to “Let’s Get Lit!” on PureFandom.com, where we will chat with an
author about their work and their favorite fandoms! This week’s edition will feature the super cool, Bob Proehl!
Bob’s book, A HUNDRED THOUSAND WORLDS is on sale NOW! Here I will chat with him about his book, comic book conventions and his writing.
Meg Bonney: I am currently reading your debut, A HUNDRED THOUSAND WORLDS. Without giving too much away, what can you tell us about it?
Bob Proehl: Well, it’s about a mother and son. She is a former cult television actress and they are traveling cross-country. She is making a series of appearances at comic-cons on their way to the west coast. What the son doesn’t know is that once they get to the west coast, she is actually handing over custody to his estranged father, who neither has seen in six years. So that’s sort of the plot summary. As far as what it’s about, it’s really about stories and how we interact and how the stories we tell ourselves and tell others shape us and we shape them. You know, that back and forth.
MB: I love that. As a reader, I really enjoy all of the interactions between the people they meet along the way.
We are big into the comic con scene at PureFandom. Liz and Lindi, our founders host panels and moderate celeb discussions. It is such an intense little world. What can you tell me about your comic con experiences?
BP: I have been going to conventions as fan for a while and I have been reading comics for a while. And what sparked the idea of doing this novel or a novel set in those worlds, was I was going to New York Comic-Con, which I don’t know if you know where it is geographically, but you have to walk about 11 city blocks north of Time Square. It’s like the abandoned warehouse district of New York and there is this awesome kind of convergence that starts to happen. You get off the subway and go above ground and as the people condense, it gets geekier and geekier the closer you get to the convention. It was just such a neat feeling, you know, to be walking along and see this fandom just distill itself out of the general public. And it really is it’s own little environment and it’s (to an extent) a safe space for the things you love.
MB: That’s awesome. You are also a huge comics guy. When did you first get into comics?
BP: I have been reading comics for a long time. I worked in a book store but when I was a kid and I worked for a comic book dealer. I grew up outside of Buffalo and I worked for this guy who was like a grizzled WWII veteran who had lost an eye and I basically just carried boxes for him, even though he was much stronger than scrawny, 13 year old me. So we would go to, well they weren’t really big enough to warrant the name “convention” but they were comic book shows. We would take the long boxes out and go to a mall in suburbs where there would be 10 other dealers. People would come and try to fill in gaps in their collections. I was basically getting paid in comics, which was ideal for me.
MB: Too bad you can’t pay the water bill in comics! Do you ever cosplay at conventions?
BP: Not with any kind of intensity. I am actually going to Houston to do a panel and I always think, no I should just be professional, but I have a really good 10th Doctor costume. But also, it’s June in Houston so it may a little hot wearing a suit with a trench coat. This will be my first, like really throwing down on the cosplay.
MB: Do it! We all get way too into our fandoms here at PureFandom.com. What fandom makes you geek out the most? (A book, movie or TV show)
BP: It’s comics for me, which is odd because comics are sort of the smallest thing about comic-cons nowadays. Print comics. I mean, I am sitting here in my little garage office, staring at a huge shelf of X-Men books.
MB: I love X-Men! Ok, so Valerie Torrey is the mom in the look and such an interesting character. If you could dream cast anyone to play her in a movie version of your book, who would it be?
BP: She has her roots in Scully, from The X-Files but the thing is, I am not a super visual writer. When I am writing I am not seeing pictures in my head and describing them so it’s weird to think about casting because I don’t have a really strong visual picture of the characters. In fact, for the hardcover of the book we had a drawing and the response from everyone was, oh, is that how you saw it in your head? And I was like, I didn’t really see it in my head.
So the only casting picture I really have in my head is a thought that came later. It’s for Gal, the person working on my film rights mentioned Amy Poehler for Gal. I said, you know that’s weird and not what I had in mind and that idea sort of grew. Now I will be shattered if it ever gets adapted and we can’t get Amy Poehler.
MB: As I was reading, I didn’t really have a person in mind for Valerie, but I did picture big hair.
BP: She definitely had a big hair period.
MB: I wish that was still a thing.
BP: It will come back.
MB: I hope so! I can’t imagine living the rest of my life with this hair and having to flat iron it. Big hair needs to come back.
BP: I am routing for skater cuts to come back or maybe a bowl cut.
MB: I am on board with that. We should start a revolution of hair. That should be our next project after writing books!
BP: Maybe I need to be the change I want to see. Throw down on a bowl hair-cut right now.
MB: Yes, Bob! Be the change you want to see in the world! And I will use all the Aqua-Net I can find.
BP: This is where the revolution begins!
MB: Yes! Ok, so lets talk about Alex. He is just so sweet. I want to keep him. You were able to write him with such innocence, which is hard to do as a grown-up. Do you think it’s because you have kids, that you were able to get into that mindset?
BP: I think so. I mean, what I really wanted to do was acknowledge the fact that kids don’t think like little adults. They aren’t doing nascent adult thinking. There’s this really different cognitive mechanism going on. My older child is actually my step-child so I met him when he was 5 and I started writing this book when he was 8, so I was really, sort of, intensely watching him and getting to know him. I was just really fascinated by the way his mind works. That was where I wanted to start with that character, without doing the precocious, like “magical child” thing. In earlier drafts, he was that. He was a little too precocious and “magical child” and my editor (who is fantastic) really pushed me to open the character up a little bit. And part of that meant allowing bad things to happen to him but I was very protective of the character. That doesn’t work for story-telling. So letting him get in a bit of danger and letting him react to that, letting him get mad and get sad, that was making the character stronger. It’s really tough making our book kids go through that.
MB: Aww, I love that. Alex is on a mission to find a magic word. If he were a wizard, which Harry Potter house do you think he would fit into best?
BP: I think he would be a Hufflepuff but then again, maybe I am not giving the character enough credit.
MB: I think he might straddle that Hufflepuff/Gryffindor line.
BP: Yeah and one of the things I really wanted to get across with that character is the compassion kids have and the sort of emotional savvy that they have, often with other people’s emotions when they are not super savvy or self-aware about their own emotions.
MB: Alex is all of that. Not to be a Potterhead, but which Harry Potter house would YOU be in?
BP: I think I might be more of a Hufflepuff rather than a Gryffindor.
MB: I would have said a little bit of Ravenclaw for you!
BP: Oh, yeah. I always forget about them.
MB: They are the writer types. Speaking of, we are always on the hunt for a good book. What are you loving right now?
BP: Queen of the Night by Alexander Chi is fantastic and Station 11 by Emily St. John Mandel and The Girls by Emma Cline are great.
MB: We will have to check those out!
MB: Time to play KISS, MARRY, PUNCH (PureFandom Edition) Who would you kiss, who would you marry and who would you punch: Superman, Scully (X-Files) and Mystique (X-Men)
BP: I think I would have to marry Superman, I would kiss Scully from X-Files and I’d punch Mystique, but comic book Mystique.
MB: Lastly, any advice for writers out there who are still working on getting published?
BP: I mean, I wish that I did. But really, it only has to work once. Persistence is a huge part of it. And really listening when people get back to you to say, hey this thing isn’t working. Don’t be so precious with your work. It’s a lot of rejection but at the same time there are people who are really generous with their time. You have to be respectful of that.
MB: What are your plans for the launch? Where can your fans meet you?
BP: I will be launching it here in Ithaca then going to Philly, DC and a couple things in New York. I will also be in SDCC!
MB: That’s awesome! Well, thanks so much for chatting Bob and congratulations on your book launch!
Want more Bob? Of course you do!
And don’t forget to get your copy of A HUNDRED THOUSAND WORLDS right here: Amazon
Need more Let’s Get Lit! in your life? Check out my interview with Cheri Champagne , author of LOVE’S MISADVENTURE. And don’t forget to hit me up on twitter if you’d like to be featured on Let’s Get Lit! Thanks for reading!