Our interview today is with Sean Patrick Little, author of The Seven.
FQ: Most superhuman/hero stories show the lead character getting his/her powers quickly and then experimenting with them. But in The Seven, you show a different angle, as the powers take years to develop and then many of them cause pain/discomfort as they surface. Why?
I needed the powers to not just be instant. In comic books, you often see characters able to do amazing things without consequence. Superman gets shot at and the bullets bounce off without him even feeling it…how would you stop something like that? The characters I like most have to deal with good and bad. We’d all like telekinesis like Indigo, I’m sure—but would it be so much fun if there was a consequence to each action? It would be fun to be strong like Andy, but would it be so great if we couldn’t wear normal clothes and we looked like some sort of freaky cartoon? There had to be give and take to their abilities because that’s how the world works. You don’t get to eat cake without dealing with tooth decay and calories. It’s the same thing with the seven kids—they get phenomenal powers…but they have to endure losing their families, surgeries, tests, and limitations to those powers.
FQ: Although endowed with superhuman powers, the teens in your book struggle with the same problems as most teens - I'm ugly, nobody likes me, etc. Was this an important theme for you to write about?
Very much so. When you write, you have to make your characters believable or people won’t want to read about them. When writing about teenagers, you need them to deal with the same things teenagers have to contend. At heart, I think the problems we all face as teenagers taint us for the rest of our lives. When you read about a character struggling with an issue you have dealt with yourself, your heart goes out to them a little and makes the character more important to you. It makes you want to see them succeed and overcome those problems.
FQ: Dr. Cormair is initially seen as a one-sided character who seems to care little for the teens. He is doing everything for the advancement of science. But as the story progresses, we see a very human side of the doctor as he realizes what he has done, particularly in the hospital scene with Sarah. How do you see Dr. Cormair evolving through the story?
Dr. Cormair’s evolution as a character was a surprise, even to me! As the story progressed, I began to think about what a man would think about on his death bed, as he looked back over a lifetime devoted to a singular passion—what would he think about: The successes or the missed opportunities? As humans, I tend to think we always focus on the negative and ignore the positives. That’s a very human characteristic. Dr. Cormair begins the story almost like a robot—cold and unfeeling. As the story progresses, particularly when he’s forced to watch the army fight Andy from his hospital bed, he sees that his devotion to his work was wrong. I like to think he realizes that he missed too much of his own life, missed too much of the lives of the seven kids. He sees the negative side of his life and misses the positive. Or perhaps he realizes that the successes he generated in science were nothing compared to the joy of life. I think parents have to deal with that trade-off. We’d all like to be there for our kids, but work and other duties get in the way and we’re bound to miss things. That’s a sad truth to life. We can only hope we don’t miss too much.
FQ: You created some neat new technologies for The Seven, from the hyper-womb to the freezing gel. Was it fun to think up, and then write about, these creations?
It’s always fun to create your own worlds. In comic book-style stories, that’s one of the most liberating features. When you need new tech, you can create new tech. I was able to borrow little scenes from movies and other books and create things out of my own mind to blend them all together to one purpose. A lot of times, the tech can feel like deus ex machina, but at the same time, it’s all science fiction! That’s why the genre was created.
FQ: Seven teens - seven superpowers. Were there other superppowers that you thought up but decided not to use? If so, would you tell us about them?
The superpowers the characters received had to be fathomable in loose scientific terms. I also didn’t want anyone to get overpowered, like Superman. I didn’t want anyone getting shape-shifting abilities, or powers that seemed to come out of nowhere, like shooting lasers from their eyes. I do have other superpowered teenagers coming up in the intended sequel, so I don’t want to give too much away.
FQ: The "Trust" plays an important role in The Seven and yet, we don't really know a lot about it. Why did you decide to keep the organization a bit of a mystery?
The story of the Trust is not fully told…yet. About halfway through the writing of the first book, I had so many ideas and thoughts, that I started plotting a sequel in my head. The Trust will be explained further in later stories. The Trust emerges as a sort of boogeyman in this first book because I didn’t want to focus too heavily on their organization and plans. The first book was about the seven kids and breaking free of the Trust.
FQ: Without giving the ending away, it was very cool. Do you see the way you ended the story as a possible lead-in to a sequel?
Definitely. As I just said, about halfway through the story, I knew there would be a sequel. I had too many loose ends and ideas to not keep writing about this team of kids. Besides, I genuinely liked those kids. It’s more than a creator’s love for them, I wanted to know more about them. I wanted to see more about their lives and how they would function once they were free of the Home. I wanted to see how their relationships and powers would play in the “real” world. I am currently at work on a sequel tentatively entitled, The Seven: Phase Two. Right now, marketing for The Seven is taking up most of my free time, but I am hoping that once snow flies, I’ll be ready to sit down and work for some extended chunks of time. Right now, I’ve perhaps got about 50 to 70 pages written for the sequel and I feel like I’m just starting to scratch the surface. There will be a lot of characters to cover: Major Krantz, Senator Uriah, the subjects in the Phase Two program, and of course, the seven lovable goofballs that are the heart of the first novel. I try to update my blog at www.seanpatricklittle.com routinely, so readers can follow the progress on the second book.