Andrew Kirschner published the superhero novel Ms Infinity: Earth's Greatest Hero in 2015. A lifelong New Yorker, he holds two Masters Degrees, in Secondary Education and Urban Planning, and has worked in many different fields, including advertising, government, manufacturing, and education. He currently lives in Queens with his wife and three children.
As I was writing, the hero’s characterization was influenced more and more by my wife, Liz. She is also a major inspiration. After all, she is the superhero in my life.
I don’t know if I could say anything definitive. I will say that I like to build out from the characters. Having relatable characters is important, and the plot to me is secondary. I think building from the lead character’s motivations works best. That way, even if the plot isn’t highly original, it can still be compelling. I would take that over a strong plot with weak characters.
Q3: What authors, or books have influenced you?
I’m a Tolkien geek. I could read The Lord of the Rings any time! Since I write a superhero, I would also name William Moulton Marston, Wonder Woman’s creator. Ms. Infinity has influences from the Golden Age Wonder Woman in particular. Also Dan Mishkin, who has done many comics, but also a very underrated run on Wonder Woman from the 1980’s.
Q4: What is your schedule like when you’re writing a book?
I’m a part time writer and a full time parent and teacher. I have to pencil the writing time in between other commitments. Sometimes it’s an hour, sometimes just ten or twenty minutes a night. The key is persistence. Keep doing this regularly, and you get things done.
Q5: Does writing energize or exhaust you? Or both?
It really does depend. Sometimes a long session can wear you out. But on the whole, it’s very energizing. Living with my characters has made my life that much richer.
Q6: What is the best writing advice you have ever heard?
It’s simple, but just that a writer writes.
Q7: How do you come up with character names for your stories?
I came up with the name Bonnie Boring right at the character’s inception, and there it was. Thinking of her superhero name was much harder. I was halfway through Book 1 before I thought of Ms. Infinity. I decided that I would demarcate the principal cast with the slightly corny comic book convention of alliterative names, so her boyfriend is Hal Holstein, her best friend Lisa Lin, and her mother is Betty Boring.
Sometimes I go for word play with incidental characters. I had an astronaut named Glen Spacey and a reporter named Kaz Pimple (from the Comics Crash Pad.) More important though, since this takes place in Queens, is showing New York’s diversity. My own immediate neighbors must have at least half a dozen cultures represented. So Ms. Infinity’s cast also represents the cultural mosaic of the city.
Q8: What do you think is the best way to improve writing skills?
Above all, you can’t beat doing it. But I think it’s also important to hear others’ opinions. Apart from other experiences, I run a writers workshop (the Astoria Writers Group) and that has been a wonderful experience.
Q9: What are you working on now?
I’m working on the fourth Ms. Infinity book, with the working title Ms.Infinity vs. The Nanny. The villain is an evil Mary Poppins variant named Nancy Proper who kidnaps children to her cartoon pocket universe and transforms them into brainwashed cartoons.
Q10: What are you currently reading?
Stephanie B. Whitfield’s Found in Roll, the last of her series about a teenage witch in a small town in Arizona. I’m enjoying it a lot!To find out more about Andrew Kirschner, check out the links below, and don't forget to check out the excerpt from Ms. Infinity: Earth’s Greatest Hero at the end of this interview:
Below is an excerpt from Ms. Infinity: Earth’s Greatest Hero
There she stood, a figure of myth, larger than life. She looked like she did on TV, but somehow even greater. She was tall, with dark, flowing hair. Her full-bodied costume was a deep dark blue with the infinity symbol both on her belt and her tiara, both in gold, and a cape of gold that flowed behind her. She stood tall with arms akimbo and spoke with a powerful voice: “Sir, I believe it is time that you kindly release this man.”
“Gladly!” shouted Derrick. Suddenly Hal was being flung over the safety bar, into the air. But an instant later he was in the arms of Ms. Infinity.
“You’re safe now,” said Ms. Infinity, looking into his eyes. Hal stared back as if enchanted.
Indeed, Hal was so excited that he could barely speak. He almost forgot to breathe. It was as if time had frozen in this one, perfect moment. Ms. Infinity seemed even more powerful, more beautiful, altogether more awesome in person than he had ever dreamed. She seemed to glow as he looked at her. “Wow,” he beamed, “It’s you! It’s really you!”
“So I’ve been led to believe,” she replied with a smile.
As Ms. Infinity descended with Hal, she smiled at him warmly. She landed with him, and gently put him down on the sidewalk in front of the store. Putting her hand on his shoulder, she spoke.
“You have handled a frightening situation with dignity and grace. I sense a man with kindness and decency, and much to admire. Never forget the power you have inside you.”
Hal’s heart was beating so fast, he almost forgot how to talk. “Thank you so much,” he said.
“If you understand now, I have a criminal to deal with.”
As Ms. Infinity flew away, Hal watched in complete awe. He stood there watching her disappear, as a police officer approached. “Sir? Can we ask you a few questions?”
Hal did not answer; it seemed hard to rouse him from his near trance-like state. “Sir?” asked the officer a second time.
“Oh!” he shouted, “I’m sorry, officer.”
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