Jeff Mean would rather set fires than follow rules or observe curfew. He wears his bad boy image like a favorite old hoodie; that is until he learns he has superpowers and is recruited by Super Villain Academy – where you learn to be good at being bad. In a school where one kid can evaporate all the water from your body and the girl you hang around with can perform psychic sex in your head, bad takes on a whole new meaning. Jeff wonders if he’s bad enough for SVA.
He may never find out. Classmates vilify him when he develops good manners. Then he’s kidnapped by those closest to him and left to wonder who is good and who is bad. His rescue is the climactic episode that balances good and evil in the super world. The catalyst – the girl he’s crushing on. A girlfriend and balancing the Supers is good, right? Or is it…bad?
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Jeff admired the growth of the flames as they devoured wads of paper and fast food wrappers in the wire mesh trashcan. He slipped the book of matches into his pocket and sat back on his heels to admire his work. One side of the can merely smoldered so he blew gently to fan the guttering flame. It reminded him of how blowing on Jasmine’s neck the night before had resulted in a lovely arch of her back. He growled a throaty sigh, remembering Jasmine’s blissful distraction as he’d nibbled her earlobe.
Jeff glanced over his shoulder. A man, who looked like he belonged behind a desk in a downtown high rise, jogged toward him.
“ Ah, the sweet sounds of discipline.” Jeff stood, stuffed his fists in the front pockets of his jeans and shook the long bangs out of his eyes. He half expected the guy’s slick-soled business shoes to slip as he jogged across visitor parking. This was Jeff’s favorite part. Almost getting caught. When the guy was a baseball’s toss away, Jeff turned. He walked a couple steps then skipped up into a jog.
“ Kid, stop!”
Jeff chuckled to himself and said, “Yeah, sure,” and loped across the soccer field.
“ Wait a minute.”
Jeff stole a look over his shoulder. The guy was close even though he didn’t seem to be running very fast. Jeff grinned at him and increased his pace.
About the author:
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What inspired you to write this book?
King of Bad was an accidental NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) novel. I was a wife and working mother of four, failing miserably at fitting writing time into my full schedule, so I decided to do NaNo. I went to the trouble of outlining a story for a new middle grade novel with a boy main character. I never outline, so this was very outside my character. When I woke up on November 1st, my head was filled with the question, “Who trains the bad guys?” I couldn’t get past it no matter what I did, so I abandoned my middle grade novel and dove straight into a young adult novel about a kid recruited by a super villain academy.
What characters do you connect with most?
How funny, you are the first person to ask me this about this book and I’m surprised to realize I don’t ‘connect’ with any of them on a personal level. I can point to character traits or mannerisms in a character or two from all of my other books that are from myself, but nothing in this book. I used traits from my children for Jeff and his sister Sandra. I used some of our family dynamics, but this is the least personal book I have published. I have since written another book, a ya romance, that is also me-free. Perhaps I’m done mining myself for my characters.
What's your favorite book-turned movie?
Oh, that’s a tough one! But I guess I’ll rate it based on the number of times I’ve re-watched a movie and the title goes to Goblet of Fire. Admittedly it was my favorite book of the Harry Potter series, but I love the dragon chase, I love Cedric, I love the moment Hermoine shows up for the ball at the top of the stairs. So many fun scenes that don’t grow old for me.
If you could be best friends with one of your characters, who would it be?
Uh oh, this is a spoilery answer! I’m a hero at heart, so it wouldn’t be any of my main characters – or would it? I’d probably get along with (or maybe be in awe of) Mystic and I know I’d be friends with Oceanus and Jeff, but being villains, I couldn’t completely give my heart over. Anyway, I can’t tell you which character I’d end up being besties with, because you can’t know who is good before you even read the book!
Can you tell us about any other books you're writing?
The second book in the Super Villain Academy series, Polar Opposites, is under contract. Readers can get a sneak peek at the blurb on my website – but wait until after you’ve read King of Bad! I’m editing a young adult romantic suspense that I like to say is a cross between National Treasure and Wuthering Heights. It is very different than anything I’ve written so far, with deep emotion, beautiful drippy language and cheek fanning scenes. I’m really excited to get it out there.
What do you do in your spare time?
Motherly stuff. Wifey stuff. Read. I walk a lot, which is not only good for me physically but also mentally. As a family we like to visit the plethora of amazing natural interest spots around Central Oregon like Fort Rock, Hole in the Ground, the headwaters of the Metolius. I actually have a board on Pinterest dedicated to Favorite Family Activities. There is SO much beauty around us; mountains, desert, lava lands and caves, and I really love exploring it all and showing it off to visitors.
Who's your inspiration?
My kids. My oldest daughter is a musician. She picked up a clarinet in fifth grade and from that moment on taught me what determination and dedication looks like. Every time her hard work opens yet another door, I turn back to my writing and get back to work. My oldest son is a sailor. Throughout his four years in high school he excelled as a member of the JROTC. His focus on the thing he was passionate about opened doors for him even early in his naval career. He truly taught me the meaning and value of focus. The two youngest are emerging inspirations for me. I love to watch and support their growing interests.
If you were stranded on a desert island which character do you want by your side?
Jeff Mean, hands down! His abilities lend themselves to survival. With his power over gravity, he could shake the coconuts from the tallest of trees, his fire would keep us warm and cook our food. His ice would cool our drinks and keep our food from spoiling. There are so many ways we could utilize his abilities to keep us alive. Plus I love that he has an easy-going personality. So it wouldn’t be hard to spend a long stretch of time with him.
Team Edward or Jacob?
Edward. I’m not too crazy about his stalkery ways, but I like his old soul and maturity. Jacob is too much of a hot head for me. Oh, and if I’m TOTALLY honest, I love the Cullens’ money. I’m not a materialistic person, by any means, but I really love the idea of just not having to worry about – or even THINK about money. That would be awesome.
Team Peeta or Gale?
Gale. So very much Gale. But not for Katniss! I didn’t think she deserved either in the end. Ideally, they all should have ended up with people not involved in the whole Hunger Games debacle. I loved who Peeta was in the end and wish he found a really sweet, nurturing woman to care for him. I just didn’t like him much during the games.
What are you reading now?
One of my stories (the full - for editing) and my crit buddy’s full manuscript. That’s really enough for my brain to handle at once. But, I recently finished Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell and loved it! I also just finished Quest of the Hart by Mary Waibel. It’s a reverse Sleeping Beauty tale. Lots of fun.
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