Welcome to Shelfbuzz, Bryan. Usually we kick things off with a discussion of your main character, but we were struck by how professional your covers are, so let’s start with that. How did your covers come about?
Getting the covers together was a lot of hard work, but it was totally worth it for that professional sheen. I’m very fortunate to have come from a theatre background, which means I’ve been a part of plenty of photo shoots. As a result, I have some local ties to a great photography studio called Oomphotography. We really put our heads together and researched what other books in the YA paranormal space were doing. That helped us to figure out the poses we wanted, but there was still the little matter of finding a Ted and Erica who would work for the covers.
I reached out to college acting departments here in the Chicago area and went through a ton of headshots. Eventually, we found our wonderful cover models and they were so fantastic to work with. During two separate photo shoots at Oomphotography, we took hundreds of shots in a variety of outfits to have cover options for all future planned books in the series. Once we narrowed down our best shots, I hired Robot Brain Design to seamlessly integrate Ted and Erica into some appropriately dark and frightening backgrounds. I couldn’t be happier with how they turned out!
So now let’s turn to the title character Ted. He’s definitely not your typical hero, right?
No, Ted Finley is more your typical teenage nerd. He’s funny but completely unsure of himself. He’s an outcast but not in the cool way. Everything changes when he’s imbued with some incredible abilities and the whole world finds out about it. Now he’s got to cope with a whole lot of attention from the media and bad guys alike. Pretty early on, Ted’s powers are put to the test, and he has the choice to run or face off against some pretty scary dudes. It’s a difficult decision, but Ted’s got a lot of heart in that gangly body of his.
You’ve definitely tapped into the teenage psychology with Ted. Can you tell us more about how you created him?
All teenagers wish they could do something more… that they could be something more. With this book I was trying to give teens and teens at heart the chance to see how life would’ve changed with incredible superpowers. I think in any coming of age story, you have the theme of growing up and coming into your own. Ted has definitely had to do that as he fame and powers have grown.
As a former actor, do you have any thoughts about who might play Ted in the movie version of Ted Saves the World?
Ooh, some good possibilities here: Kodi Smit-McPhee, Tom Holland, Asa Butterfield.
The book is written in a very light, fun style with witty banter and insights. It doesn’t take itself too seriously.
Yes, I’m a big fan of writer/director Joss Whedon and Buffy the Vampire Slayer. And that was definitely an inspiration.
Tell us a bit about the setting for Ted’s adventures.
The main town of Treasure in the story is based on my hometown of Dresher, Pennsylvania. I wanted to set the novel in a surburban location because it’s very rare for a superhero story.
Ted Saves the World has about 100 five star reviews. Did the novel’s positive reception inspire you to expand it into a series — or was that the plan all along?
The positive reception has been awesome and there are few things more motivating than reading a five-star review. As soon as I began writing the first book, I realized that it had to be part of a series. I ditched plans to write a couple of other standalone books and started planning out books 2 and 3 right away. That planning led to the photo shoots for the covers (it’s a lot more economical to take pictures for multiple books than just one) and some fun Easter eggs for later books in the series. After completing Ted Saves the World, I wrote Mind Over Easy (which picks up right after the action of Ted Saves the World) and Portal Combat in just five months. The series will be seven books in total, though I’m very interested in writing some in-between spin-off stories based on some of my fans’ favorite side characters.
Wow. That’s fantastic, Bryan. Thanks very much for participating in the Shelfbuzz Book Club. We look forward to reading more about Ted and Erica’s adventures.
It was my pleasure.