This summer, Timid Pirate Publishing released the Cobalt City Double Feature, which contains two superhero novellas. One, “Eye for an Eye,” by Erik Scott de Bie follows the techie hero Stardust and the alcoholic, voluptuous Lady Vengeance as her ex-boyfriend tries to get revenge. The other, “The Place Between,” by Minerva Zimmerman, follows the growth of Tera Washington as she comes to grips with being the avatar of Thor, in addition to a roller derby coach and worried daughter. You can purchase the e-book Double Feature at Amazon or right here.
This interview with Minerva Zimmerman digs into the authorial process behind the development of her novella’s story and main character.
TPP: What was it that drew you to working with the mythological aspects of Cobalt City?
I think one of the questions I’m always trying to answer in my writing isn’t “Do you believe in a god?” It’s “What happens when the gods believe in you?”
TPP: Roller Derby plays a part of your character’s arc. How did you approach, research and incorporate these elements into your book?
Roller Derby was a pre-existing part of Tera’s backstory. At the time I sat down to write “The Space Between,” everything I knew about Roller Derby wouldn’t have covered one side of an index card. Luckily, a fellow Timid Pirate writer, Dawn Vogel, happens to referee Roller Derby and I was able to ask her a lot of questions. She pointed me at a lot of good resources, and I ended up watching a lot of YouTube videos. I still haven’t made it to an actual match yet (I live in the absolute boonies), but hope to in the near future.
TPP: Tera Washington is an incredibly diverse character—both in terms of culture and sexual orientation. When preparing to write this character,what were your greatest concerns/touchstones/guiding lights?
My greatest concern was writing Tera to be her own person. I very much wanted her to be comfortable in her own identity, and becoming a superhero was never something she wanted. Those two things guided me most. For her to be comfortable as who she was, she needed a supportive family, longtime friends, and for the inner turmoil of figuring out who she was as an adult to be behind her. Her sexuality is not something she struggles with, it is something that colors how she interacts with other people. There’s one point in the story where a character asks her if she’s going to be “open or secret” and it makes Tera freeze up and upset until she realizes they mean about being a superhero.
I made the decision to not belabor the fact that Tera is a black woman to the reader. I did put lots of little indicators in the story, but most readers seem to miss them until it is definitively stated. I’m not sure if this is due to culture norms or my failures as a writer, but it isn’t something I was trying to obscure in any way. It is deeply important to me that the fiction I write is not less diverse than the world I personally live in.
TPP: Were there any characters or moments that surprised you, and if so, how?
“The Place Between” was based in part on characters and events set out in the story “The War At Home,” which was about Tera’s father, Cole Washington and the events leading up to his becoming a Cobalt City hero. Originally, I saw Cole as being simply an instigating factor in Tera’s story, but the more I wrote, the more integral he became and the more he stole the scene every time he showed up. I see him slotting into a butler-esque support position in Team Tempest’s future.
Thank you, Minerva Zimmerman.
To download a copy of “The War At Home,” click here and get a PDF.