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Thursday, September 25, 2014

Interview and Giveaway: Alex Flynn, author of The Misshapes

I'm so thrilled to have the writing duo, Alex Flynn, here today to talk about their new young adult superhero adventure The Misshapes...

The Misshapes: The Coming Storm
by Alex Flynn
Polis Books

Some people have powers.
Some people do not.
And some people may just change the world.
Sarah Robertson is one of those people.

Sarah Robertson is no ordinary girl — she can control the weather with her emotions. But in a town where superheroes walk the streets, her powers aren’t enough for the prestigious Hero Academy. Instead of being accepted to the school of her dreams, Sarah is marked as an outcast with power — a Misshape.

Now she’s stuck with a group of fellow Misshapes, her dreams on hold. Yet has an intriguing (and smoking hot) new mentor, and an unexpected romance blooms with superstar Hero dreamboat Freedom Boy. And when Doolittle Falls comes under threat of annihilation, Sarah will learn just how powerful she is when she’s forced to choose between her friends and the destiny she’s always wanted. And she may just kick some supervillain butt in the process.

What three words best describe The Misshapes?
Mind blowingly awesome

Grab a copy of The Misshapes and answer the following:
favorite chapter? 53
favorite page? 103
favorite place/setting? The Doom Shelter which was modeled after the bomb shelter in my school we had in case the Soviets decided to Nuke us.
flip to a random page and give us 1-2 sentences teaser: As Kurt squeezed, Peter’s hand turned grayish blue, followed by his arm, then his neck. The color spread and grew darker and darker. His whole body shook. I thought Kurt might kill him. Peter let out a spine-tingling howl and Kurt just squeezed harder. His whole body seemed frozen, like it could shatter into pieces in an instant.

What inspired The Misshapes? How did the story come to be? 
It was a rainy day in western Massachusetts and we were driving down the winding country roads to the Montague Bookmill, one of the most magical places on the planet. In the car, we were talking about superheroes and how annoying it would be if you could control the weather but with your emotions. In movies, books, and comics the weather can often stand in for the characters' moods, like in a dark noir film where it's always raining. We thought it would be funny to have a character whose weather actually was the mood. Then we tried to think of some other terrible powers for teenagers and wondered what it would be like for a character to not only to have lame powers, but to be surrounded by people with good powers. Once we got to the Bookmill, we started writing.

Can you tell us a bit about your heroine Sarah Robertson? What makes her special and unique among other YA heroines? 
Sarah Robertson is a 16 year old girl with the ability to control the weather. Unfortunately she can only control the weather with her emotions. To make matters worse, she's not particularly unique in the having powers department. Sarah lives in a town called Doolittle Falls which is home to the prestigious Hero Academy, training ground of the country's bravest and most admired superheroes. Sarah always dreamed of going to the school and though getting in would seal her fate as a future Hero. What makes her unique is that, unlike many other YA characters who go to the special school and learn how to become heroes, Sarah is rejected. In a form letter no less! What makes her special is her ability to learn how to become powerful on her own, without the support or approval of the powers that be.

In The Misshapes, your characters have superpowers...what, in your opinion, are the top three coolest and top three lamest super powers to have? 
Water-based powers are pretty lame. I mean, we spend most of our lives on land, so the water superheroes need to change the venue to be able to fight. Like Knightboat on the Simpsons or Aquaman. When you go deep into the X-Men world, you get some pretty lame ones: Dazzler, for one. Also Marvel Comics' Squirrel Girl is rumored to be one of the upcoming superhero movies, which is kind of hilarious. But perhaps lame powers are coming back: look at the Guardians of the Galaxy. Stu would like to note "Batman's power, which seems to be the ability to buy really cool weapons, is also pretty lame. I mean, couldn't he use that money to make Gotham a less crappy town, which would make it harder for people that were mentally unstable to recruit henchman. Why do you think it's so easy to start an army in Gotham Bruce Wayne? He's a smart guy, he should stop solving the high poverty and unemployment problem in that city with his fists!"

Coolest powers, though: Superman's great because he fights evil on two levels, with journalism and flying. Flying is and always will be awesome. Spiderman was also a scrappy journalist and evil-fighter. The ability to swing on webs through a city is pretty damn cool. Though it would probably be less useful in the country where there's a whole lot of open space. Poor country spiderman, hanging out in barns all the time.  Also Wonder Woman's lasso of truth would come in handy. Any power that can get the truth out of people would be very useful. She should moderate the next presidential debate.

If you lived in a world full of Superheroes and Supervillains, which would you be, what would your power be, and what would your name be?
We'd probably be Misshapes (people with lame powers in our book). Stu: I'd love to be a technopath, someone who can control machines with their mind. Or some kind of 90's cyberpunk power that let me swim through the wires and take vengeance on people that abuse and threaten others anonymously on the internet. Maybe I'd go by Troll Basher, and have a secret lair under a bridge. Elisabeth: My superpower was being able to name any movie, ever, when people are like "What's that thing, with the guy, who was the detective?" but then IMDB made me irrelevant. So I'd probably be called Old School IMDB, and I wouldn't need to use my power too much of the time. It's okay though.

What is the last book or movie or tv show that:
made you belly laugh? Motherland Fatherland Homelandsexuals by Patricia Lockwood and Science... For Her! by Megan Amram
made you cry? The Invisible Circus by Jennifer Egan and the TV show Rectify, which is amazing
scared you? Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro, The People's Platform by Asta Taylor
inspired you? The Amazing Adventure of Kavalier and Clay
made you want to “borrow” its characters? Love and Rockets by Jamie Hernandez. Maggie is a total Misshape. Also (in the same universe) God and Science.

Fill in the blanks:
I’m really awesome at Working on a team.
I’m really embarrassed to admit I haven't read all of Harry Potter
The last great book I read was Moby Dick

If you were to create and bake a cupcake inspired by The Misshapes, what would it look and taste like, and what would you call it?
One of the main characters in our book, Johnny (Sarah's brother) has a power which has some pretty bad side-effects and he has to take medicine for them. It's in many ways a metaphor for my struggle (Stu) growing up with diabetes. I'm actually really into baking but don't have a sweet palate and use low sugar recipes, so I'd make a cupcake in honor of Johnny. Misshape Cake! It would be an olive oil cupcake with lemon buttercream frosting. It's delicious and has one of those complex flavors that sometimes takes a minute to get, and doesn't overload you with sugar.

Below are the ingredients. I stole liberally from a recipe I found here years ago and have used often.


2 large eggs
1 cup+2tbsp whole milk
3/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 tbsp lemon zest (about 2-3 lemons)
1 cup flour
1 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon baking powder (preferably aluminum free. For less sweet things you will notice the difference)
1/2 teaspoon salt

1. Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees.
2. Mix all the dry ingredients into a large bowl and the wet ingredients into a separate bowl.
3. Add the liquid mixture to the dry ingredients. Once they're combined, add the lemon zest and whisk until smooth (but stop once you get there, you don't want to over mix and aerate it)
4. Let the batter rest for a few minutes then pour in cups until 2/3 full. You can grease the cups with some extra olive oil if you want them to pop out easier.
5. Bake for about 20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center one of the cupcakes comes out clean.


3 1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar
1 stick of butter (softened)
1/4 cup of milk
2 tsp vanilla extract
zest of 1 lemon (meyer lemon if you can get one)
Juice of 1 lemon (meyer lemon if you can get one) - should be about 2 tbs. If it's an enormous lemon, only use half.
pinch of salt

1. Mix the butter, vanilla and meyer lemon zest together.
2. Add the milk and  lemon juice, quickly creaming it into the butter.
3. Slowly add sugar to your mixture and continue on medium.
4. Once the sugar is all in the bowl, cream on "high" for four minutes.

Divide buttercream onto cupcakes and enjoy!

Thank you so much for stopping by today! That cupcake sounds super yummy!


Alex Flynn is the pseudonym for the writing team of Stuart Sherman and Elisabeth Donnelly. They met at a clandestine book club in Boston, where they broke into a fortified tower in order to discuss literature. They like garrulous Irish writers, Pushing Daisies, Axe Cop, and anything involving The Tick. Their secret lair is currently in a hollowed out volcano in Brooklyn. In addition to co-writing The Misshapes, Donnelly is cultural journalist who has written for the New York Times Magazine, The Boston Globe, The L.A Times, Paris Review Daily, GQ and many others. She is also an editor at Flavorwire. Sherman is a bioethicist, health policy analyst and a former contestant on the game show Who Wants to be a Millionaire. Visit them at

Win a copy of The Misshapes!
The awesome peeps at Polis Books have offered up one hardcover copy (US only) and one ebook copy (INT) for two lucky cupcakes.
-open US and INT
-ends 10/3
-must be 13+ to enter
-winners will be emailed and must claim prize within 48 hours
-Word Spelunking is not responsible for lost, damaged, or stolen prizes in the mail
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Molly Mortensen said...

I love things about super powers! I'd think that weather powers would be one of the best, I mean look at Storm!

My favorite superhero is probably Spider-man, because he's funny, not perfect, and tries to do the right thing. Not to mention that he has awesome powers!

Robert D. said...

Growing up, my favorite superhero was Spiderman, but it has changed to Superman.

Nicole said...

Thanks for the recipe! My second favorite superhero is Wonder Woman. I can't tell you who my absolute favorite superhero is, because I use that as my identifying question on too many websites