When we think of thrillers, we tend to think of a series of nail-biting action sequences, where the hero or heroine battles against the odds from beginning to end. Take the Bourne trilogy, for example. (I haven't seen the fourth movie in the franchise yet!) We might recall the fight scenes and the car chases and the drama of it all, but when you watch the movies as often as I have, you get a greater sense of the peaks and troughs, and the flow. Thrillers need action and suspense, by definition, but the reader or viewer also needs to take a breath every once in a while, and to understand (generally as the protagonists also learns) what's really going on.
In writing for the Mid-School / YA genres it's tempting to keep the action in the foreground all the time, but younger readers are smarter than that. They want to connect with the protagonist, and maybe even the antagonist, to feel some of what they fill. The quieter, more reflective scenes are essential for reminding the reader of the context to the active scenes. That way, when the roller-coaster suspense ride builds again, the reader experiences it more deeply because they care about the people involved.
Thrillers and fantasies are great ways for readers to explore their emotions and find escapism, but let's forget the drama of daily life. In Superhero Club, 12 year-old Jo's heroism lies in dealing with day-to-day concerns such as family relationships, issues with food, and finding her place in school and out of it.
Sometimes, the most heroic thing is being yourself.
About Derek Thompson
Derek Thompson is a writer of several genres - mid-grade, fantasy, thriller, and contemporary fiction. Although British, he lived in the US for a year, back in the late 80s, and that period of his life is the backdrop to a work-in-progress - transatlantic comedy Scars & Stripes. He also writes comedy for print, online, radio and live performance.
About Superhero Club
Twelve year-old Jo has never fit in at school, what with being overweight and over-sensitive. Since Dad moved out, Mom forgets who’s who in the whole mother-daughter relationship. Jo has one ambition in life: to be normal. Not gifted, or gorgeous, or even particularly popular. Just normal.
When Jo’s counselor offers her a lifeline, there’s a bunch of other misfits sharing the rope. Group sessions could help them to help each other, but Chris doesn’t like speaking and Alistair’s a self-confessed geek. Like Stevie, the joker, says, “Oh yeah, right bunch of bloody superheroes we are!”
Sometimes the most heroic thing is to trust a group of strangers, who also have a lot at stake. Jo may find the unlikeliest of friends, and a way to transform her life from the inside. The Superhero Club could give her all that in the blink of an eye. Well, maybe a double-blink!