Today I am so pleased to welcome C.B. Lee to Joyfully Jay. C.B. has come to talk to us about her latest release, Not Your Sidekick. She has also brought along a great giveaway. Please join me in giving C.B. a big welcome!
As a teenager, I was a voracious reader. I was (and still am) a fan of all things fantasy and science fiction, loved comics and novels and everything in between. I checked out books constantly from my local public library, went home with stacks of books that I would read within the week, getting lost in adventures in space, in other worlds, elves and hobbits and wizards and superheroes and kids who were larger than life.
I loved these stories but I never really saw myself in them; I didn’t think it was possible. I’d read along and devour all these narratives of “ordinary teenagers” and thought it was totally normal that they’d all be white and straight and middle class or well-off. Adventures in speculative fiction were for kids like these, and I would always be a reader, a spectator.
Asian American characters were few and far between, and if they existed they were in historical fiction or contemporary fiction. I wanted extraordinary, I wanted them in space, to reach for the stars, to travel to far off worlds and cast spells and more.
Sure, there were the protagonists in my parents’ soap operas, series of action and adventure, swordfighting and magic and long, flowing robes; all of it in rapid-quick Mandarin that I didn’t understand. The dramas of these dynasties captured the imagination of my parents, who watched their favorite show every single night. It took effort to enjoy; I had to watch the ones with Cantonese subtitles, or follow behind and ask questions, and I didn’t quite connect with all of them either.
I didn’t see myself in my parents’ media, didn’t see myself in American media either. I wasn’t one nor quite the other, and it’s taken me a long while to completely understand my own identity and what it means to be both; to have one heritage and grow up in another and create something entirely new.
One of the reasons I write protagonists of color, specifically first-generation Asian American characters, is because it was my experience, and also the experience of many, many others. There is no “universal” character that everyone should relate to, but every character has something we can draw from, identify with. I wanted to show that, write a protagonist that felt real to me and who people could see themselves in.
Not Your Sidekick was so much fun to write, and not just for the superheroes and futuristic dystopian setting and the cute robots. I loved putting characters on pages that were like me and my friends; that the lead was a bisexual Asian-American girl, and that the story isn’t about it. Sure, maybe a little, but it’s mostly about the adventure and the romance and she just is.
I hope readers enjoy the novel as much as I enjoyed writing it. Thank you so much for having me on your blog today!
Jess grits her teeth, going for a running start. The gravel on the trail crunches under her feet, the wind rushes through her hair, and she can taste success. This time. This time, she’s gonna make it.
The canyon is streaked with color, warm in the afternoon light; golden striations race across the signature rusty reds of the landscape. The sky is a gorgeous, impossible blue, and clouds flutter down the endless horizon, a perfect backdrop for a first flight.
Every step resounds in her body, and her heart races. Blood pounds in her ears.
One of the rarest of abilities. Jess’ dad can fly, and her older sister inherited the gene. Why not Jess?
Why not me? I could be a hero, Jess thinks as she picks up speed.
Jess is turning seventeen in a week, and then it will be too late for her to register. She hasn’t demonstrated any powers at all, not as a child, not as an adolescent, but she’s held out hope. After all, there are a few documented outliers: teenagers presenting much later, even as old as sixteen.
No one’s presented with any powers after seventeen.
The wind whistles in her ears, and the desert is alive with color, encouraging her on. Where the trail curves and descends, Jess keeps going forward, right for the edge where it peters off into the canyon below. Time and erosion has split the rock formation, leaving a gap of at least seven feet between the edge and the rest of the rock cluster.
Jess doesn’t hesitate. She pushes herself forward and leaps into the air.
The desert is silent except for the pebbles that scatter from her movement and tumble into the gap far below. Jess is in the air, and for a few seconds she can taste the sky reaching out to her, welcoming her—
Jess lands hard on the other side of the gap, falls flat on her cheek. She spits dust and cringes at the sting on her face. Her body’s going to ache later.
This is the third jump she’s made today.
Jess rolls over and stares up at the sky. “All right, so maybe flying’s not going to happen,” she says reluctantly. She fishes inside her pocket for the list she made of the powers she could inherit from her parents.
magnetic field manipulation
She has a longer list too, of all the powers on file with the Meta-Human Registrar, but everyone knows that meta-abilities are genetic. If Jess didn’t inherit any of her parents’ abilities, the possibility of having any abilities drops to near zero.
Jess is covered in dirt and bruised and frustrated, and it’s unlikely that she’s ever, ever, going to be a superhero.
Welcome to Andover, where superpowers are common, but internships are complicated. Just ask high school nobody, Jessica Tran. Despite her heroic lineage, Jess is resigned to a life without superpowers and is merely looking to beef up her college applications when she stumbles upon the perfect (paid!) internship—only it turns out to be for the town’s most heinous supervillain. On the upside, she gets to work with her longtime secret crush, Abby, whom Jess thinks may have a secret of her own. Then there’s the budding attraction to her fellow intern, the mysterious “M,” who never seems to be in the same place as Abby. But what starts as a fun way to spite her superhero parents takes a sudden and dangerous turn when she uncovers a plot larger than heroes and villains altogether.
C.B. Lee is a bisexual writer, rock climber, and pinniped enthusiast from Southern California. A first-generation Asian American, she is passionate about working in communities of color and empowering youth to be inspired to write characters and stories of their own. Lee’s debut novel Seven Tears at High Tide was published by Duet Books in 2015 and named a finalist in the Bisexual Books Awards. This summer, she was named to Lambda Literary’s Emerging Writers’ Retreat for Emerging LGBTQ Voices.
C.B. has brought a tour wide giveaway. A grand prize winner will get a $25 gift card to the Interlude Press Web Store + Multi-format eBook of Not Your Sidekick. Five additional winners receive Not Your Sidekick eBooks. Follow the Rafflecopter link below to enter.
- By entering the giveaway, you’re confirming that you are at least 18 years old.
- By entering you are agreeing to the Terms and Conditions set out by Rafflecopter for entries.
- Winners may be announced on the blog following the contest. By entering the contest you are agreeing to allow your name to be posted and promoted as the contest winner by Joyfully Jay.
- Prizes will be distributed following the giveaway either by Joyfully Jay or the person/organization donating the prize.
- By entering you are agreeing to hold Joyfully Jay harmless if the prize or giveaway in some way negatively impacts the winner.
- Void where prohibited by law.