Interested in expanding your superhero fiction repertoire? Then you’ll be happy to learn all about the Children of Nostradamus and author Jeremy Flagg! Read on to learn how his childhood in Maine influenced his work, why he chooses to write about an atypical superhero, and how an arch-nemesis turned into the perfect collaborator.
Howdy! My name is Jeremy Flagg, but if you know me from online, then I answer to Remy. I grew up in the wilds of northern Maine and living in remote places, you have to rely on your imagination. The summers were spent on adventures in the woods. The winters however, you had to hunker down and that’s where my love of books really comes from. I started reading thanks to comics, so they’ll always have a special place in my heart. The pages of X-Men have had a huge influence in shaping who I am today. So much so that I write dystopian superhero stories set in the Children of Nostradamus Universe.
Are there any works (comics, books movies, etc) that inspired the Night Quartet and your protagonist Conthan?
It’s easy to see the connections between my work and Chris Claremont’s run on X-Men, specifically Days of Future Past. I have always loved the darker tales and this one introduced some of my favorite characters. You can see nods to it with my future world, killer robots and the attempted eradication of a species.
Where I promptly diverge from comics is with my protagonist. Unlike comics, Conthan, my primary hero is not what you would expect in the superhero genre. He’s out of shape. Dare I say chubby? I have always been a big guy, and as a teen there was a lot of self-loathing because of it. The idea of being thin was shoved in your face daily, and I needed to know that this wasn’t the entirety of my identity.
Also, Conthan is gay. His story isn’t about coming out. His gayness is simply a fact and we see him do “gay” things without announcing it to the world. When I was in the closet, television on had images of flamboyant gay men. There is absolutely nothing wrong with that, but I didn’t fit the media’s portrayal of gay men. It created a lot of discord as a teenager. Conthan isn’t masculine or feminine, he is simply him. I never label him in the book as being gay, but it’s obvious by his interactions and eventual love interest. I find it comforting to know that gay people can be in stories that do not revolve around their coming out process. I wrote the hero I needed when I was a kid, and I hope that speaks to the next generation of gays.
Did you know Peter Clines wrote a superhero book with zombies? Man, I’ll forever kick myself in the butt for not getting to that story sooner. I love the idea of the underdog. I will always root for the unsuspecting champion. To dial up the stakes, I wanted a harsh world in which these people survive. It gives me the ability to hold up a mirror to society and say, “This is where we’re heading.” But every step of the way, there are heroes trying to stop it from happening. Because I write superheroes, I can make the world much darker and they still have the chance to succeed. Big heroes, big villains.
I find it difficult to write stories set in a normal setting without the doom and gloom. I ironically am a fairly happy and content person. I enjoy seeing the simplicity and beauty in the world. But when I sit down at the computer to begin typing, it’s time to exorcise my demons. There are definitely moments when I write a scene and I have to walk away from the computer and recharge the emotional tanks with uplifting stories. Thankfully the comics that inspired me (and my readers) contain some of those same notes, I only aged them for the audience.
One of the benefits of the Night Quartet is it’s a complete series. No waiting around for the next book! As an author currently mid-series, the endpoint can look awfully far away. How did you stay motivated to see your story through to the end? Please give me advice.
Your characters need you. Partway through my series, I hit a slump. I wrote some side projects to keep my daily goals, but it was hard to be in the headspace to write scenes that had so much hopelessness to them. There’s a character Twenty-Seven who was meant to die in the first book. But her story took on a life of my own and she survived me. In book three, she had only begun to reclaim her identity. She excited me. Honestly, if it wasn’t for her, it might have taken me longer. But without me at the keyboard, she wouldn’t become the heroine the world needed. Now when I think about her fall from grace, I can cheer the way she picked herself up off the ground and changed the story.
There are all these things you’ve created; they have stories that need to be told. Sometimes it’s a grind and you’d rather be watching television. But without you at the keyboard, their stories end. You owe it to these creations to give them a chance to finish their story.
And when I realized that. She urged me to create another character to run parallel to her story. I got excited. The characters urged me forward as much as I did for them.
I know you’re also a big part of superher-fiction.com. What would you like people to know about that site and the work you do over there?
I firmly believe in the idea that authors are not competitors, they’re collaborators. Trish Heinrich and I started this two years ago as a discussion. She was meant to be my arch-nemesis (because I do that) but it started a great dialogue. When we met in Chicago for a conference, it was book love. Our genre is unique in that it’s not really a genre, it’s an archetype. We can put superheroes into any genre, and many do that. So how do we come together as a collective to be supportive of these stories we love?
We grew up with comics. For whatever reason we don’t create comics. So, we do the next best thing. This is a medium that we’re paying homage to, something that shaped many of us from childhood on. If Amazon isn’t going to make selling books easy for us, then it’s up to us to be the heroes of our own stories. Cliché I know, but it’s true. From that idea, we created superhero-fiction.com, a one-stop-shop for all things superhero. It’s allowed us to network with others in the genre, and honestly, when there are thousands of authors out there, it’s given us a common bond. We might not agree on much, but we’re fast to rally behind our favorite comic book heroes.
I see from your website that you used to live Maine but have since moved out of state. As someone who has lived here for a decade, what could have possibly convinced you to run from this beautiful state with its endless winters and lack of well-paying jobs?
I would move back to Maine in a heartbeat. My heart will always be in the woods of Maine. I grew up learning how to shoot a gun, hunt for food, and even ice fishing. I am built for the cold and still tell tales about how it made me the man I am today. I only came to Massachusetts for school. I was plucked right out of school for a job and unfortunately, Maine’s economy makes finding a job nearly impossible. I wish her the best, but while I’m in my prime, I need to keep exploring the world.
I grew homesick years ago and wrote a non-fiction book, “I Am Maine” about what it means to be a Mainer. I’m currently in the process of revising it. The tales are almost as tall as my fiction. I still own a plot of land in T5R9 and someday I might decide it’s time to build that cabin in the woods.
Note: Here, Remy is referencing what’s known as a township. Think super small, super rural, with no local government. We have a whole bunch of them here in Maine. Here’s a good place to learn more about townships.
I’m currently wrapping up a trilogy that takes place in the Children of Nostradamus Universe ninety years before the events of Nighthawks. Eleanor Valentine was an elderly woman in Nighthawks who attempted to stop an evil from consuming the world. Unfortunately, she doesn’t survive the first chapter. Readers demanded to know her backstory, and so here I am wrapping up the third book. Once I’m done with this, I have to make some hard choices and decide if I want to dip my toe into the sequel series to the Night Quartet or if I want to dip my toes in the superhero romance genre. It might come down to the flip of a coin.
Where can people find you online?
I write an ongoing serial in the Children of Nostradamus Universe at www.childrenofnostradamus.com and folks can roam around and find me and all of my novels there.