The Next Big Thing: Pawn Takes Rook

Today, it’s finally my turn for the Next Big Thing Blog Hop where authors talk about their up and coming project. My author sister from another mister Cate Ashwood tagged me, so here we go with the nitty-gritty on my novella Pawn Takes Rook!

What is the title of your book?

Pawn Takes Rook. Due out from Dreamspinner Press Spring 2013.

How did you come by the idea?

I’ve been a fan of superheroes since I was young. In another life, I wanted more than anything to be a comic book artist but as they say, life has a way of changing your priorities. One of my top favorite superheroes is Batman and his angst and tortured hero ways. But instead of writing a super dark story, why not have it told from the POV of his clueless hyperactive sidekick and make it a comedy? Thus the brooding death machine Memphis Rook and perky geek Hogarth Dawson were born.

What genre does your book fall under?

Gay Science Fiction Romantic Comedy

Which actors would you choose to play your characters if it were a movie?



I think for Rook the closest thing I’m seeing in my head is if Josh Hollway (Sawyer from ABC’s Lost) and Chris Hemsworth (Thor, Thor, and did I mention Thor?) were put in a blender and press frappe. Rook is referred to as a brawny Viking quite a bit.

For Hogarth he’s been ridiculously difficult to see in my head, but the closest I can come to is Chris Colfer (Kurt from Fox’s Glee). Actually the internet was kind enough to cough up this photo which is spot on Hogarth.

Brandon Routh

And because it is actually important and hilariously ironic, Captain Chivalry is absolutely without a doubt Brandon Routh (Superman of Superman Returns). I wouldn’t dare make him Christopher Reeve. Some things are just sacred.

What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book?

To repay a favor to the disgraced Rook, Hogarth concocts a scheme to get Rook back into the good graces of the Power Alliance and ride his coattails, but not everything is as it seems in the glamorous world of capes and cowls.

Do you have an agent or did you submit on your own?

I’m seeking an agent for another project, but thankfully Dreamspinner doesn’t require you to have an agent.

How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript?

Pawn Takes Rook is a novella. That said, it took me four days to write it. The story goes was I was getting my wisdom teeth out that week and I had to get this story done or else I’d be drugged out of my gourd and lose the mojo. I was going to originally submit it to an anthology and the deadline seriously snuck up on me. Perhaps to my good fortune, the story ran long, and I couldn’t find 3k that I could just cut off. Instead, I had parts that needed expansion.

Who or What inspired you to write this book?

The comic series The Authority by Wildstorm Comics of which Midnighter and his lover Apollo is from. It was the first mainstream comic series to feature an openly gay couple. The awesome part about it was it was Midnighter and Apollo were powerhouses of the team that happened to be gay. They were not gay superheroes. There’s a difference. I love stories with gay characters that the plot isn’t all about being gay. I love it when there are bigger things to deal with, like the world exploding in six seconds unless they don’t drive the bomb into the sun’s core.

The anthology submission in question had gay superheroes as a theme I had that “Ah-hah! Moment” and thought “Do you know anyone more qualified to write superheroes than you? NO!


What other books would you compare this story to within your genre?

Perry Moore’s Hero, a gay YA with a teenage superhero. The protagonist is more levelheaded than Hogarth but even he has moments of dopey boy and his superhero crush. If the ending doesn’t make you cheer and then sob happy tears, you don’t know what you’re missing. Chip Kidd designed the book jacket to the hardcover, and I met him at a lecture once. Not only was he insanely witty and engaging, I had no idea how much he’d affect me from then on as I noticed a majority of the books I collected were because of his covers. Completely unrelated to my book, but the story of how the cover to Cormac McCarthy’s The Road came to be is a hilarious story. I had to read The Road for a class. And against my sense of reason McCarthy is one of my favorite authors.

As for comics related to Pawn Takes Rook: The Authority is a fantastic place to start. Besides Midnighter and Apollo, I’m cooking ideas for characters inspired by Jack Hawksmoor and Jenny Sparks. Jack Hawksmoor’s power is he controls urban environments and actually can’t live in rural areas with little to no pollution and clean drinking water. How weird and awesome is that! Jenny Sparks’ power is she is electricity. Plain and simple. What makes her different is she’s a Century Baby. Born at the first second of one century on New Year’s Day, lives a full 100 years, and then set to die at the last second of New Year’s Eve a hundred years later no matter what. And that’s only the tip of the iceberg of why The Authority is so freaking cool.

And on the other side of the coin: The Tick, a rather bizarre slapstick superhero comedy. The Tick and the cartoon Darkwing Duck is where I gather inspiration for my ridiculous superhero and villain names. The Tick has American Maid (a female Captain America) and Die Fledermaus (A pun on Batman). Also random battle cries of: “SPOON!” And Darkwing Duck has a rogue’s gallery like Negaduck, the Liquidator, Splatter Phoenix, Ammonia Pine, and dozens of others. They’ve inspired me for characters like Captain Chivalry, Pixel, Mr. Greenie Meanie, Ree-Alli-Tee, Wyld Stallyn, and Uniscorn. I feel like if you don’t get a giggle or grin from the name, I haven’t worked hard enough.

What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest?

For one, I am planning to make it a series of novellas, like issues of a comic book.

The most important detail is the book is rife with geeky pop culture references. For the person that can find all of them, or close to all of them, there might be a prize involved.

The types of stories I write I suppose you’d say my world is a bit idealized with the idea of homosexuality being something people don’t bat a lash at. In my stories there are always bigger issues than who is sleeping with whom. There are plenty of books out there that are the Coming Out Story, or the Struggling With Adversity Story, and they’re all amazing. But I’d like to see a world where we can move past that and learn that being gay is as normal as choosing what jeans to wear that day. The history of homosexuality is an important one, and mustn’t be forgotten, but there comes a time when you need to shake off the chains of angst and realize the world is very shiny and lovely. If we can have Dora the Explorer teach culture to preschoolers, Katniss Everdeen teach girls to kick ass and be strong, Harry Potter teach everyone that being weird and misunderstood is okay and makes you powerful, why can’t we have stories with gay protagonists that teach people being different is pretty super and everyone has the power to be a hero?

In conclusion you can find me at:

Facebook @ Lex Chase

Twitter @ Lex_Chase

Here at

Who I’m Tagging:

Tune in to these blogs their posts of awesomeness.


Darlene Henderson of Still Moments Publishing


Tali Spencer of Dreamspinner Press


Skylar M. Cates of Dreamspinner Press


Lily Grace of Dreamspinner Press

Originally published at Lex Chase. You can comment here or there.

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