How would you describe Poltergeeks to a potential reader?
A supernatural action movie in book form with spills, thrills, fantastic characters and angsty teen romance thrown in for good measure.
What sparked the ideas for this new book?
I’d be lying if Buffy wasn’t one of the inspirational points for POLTERGEEKS. Jim Butcher’s Harry Dresden series is a massive inspiration in the colourful characters and multiple sub plots. But mostly, I think the primary inspiration came from a desire to write a solid urban fantasy for teens as opposed to a paranormal romance. There’s been a blurring of the lines between paranormal romance and UF, so I really wanted to write something with a strong central character who is focused on working the mystery and saving the day.
|Photo by David Marc Anderson|
Poltergeists and the paranormal feature heavily in Poltergeeks. Did you need to carry out any research to help you write the book, and if so, what did you research?
I watched the best ghost movie ever made, Poltergeist. I actually went to the theaters to see it 30 years ago and it’s still a damned scary movie after all these years. I spent a bit of time online watching YouTube videos of poltergeist activity (most of which is fake, but cool nonetheless) and I researched the reasons why paranormal investigators think that poltergeists exist.
The other books you’ve written, like Unseen World, have been aimed more at adult audiences. What led you to write about Julie a teenage girl, and for a younger audience?
Believe it or not, I wanted to see if I could do it. That’s been my personal driver when it comes to writing – to see if I can actually pull off writing a story that is believable and enjoyable. When I started writing POLTERGEEKS, I didn’t have an agent. Little did I realize at the time that my story would be the little manuscript that could. I found an agent thanks to this book and I found a publisher with distribution all over the world. My first three books were with Snowbooks – you don’t need an agent to submit, but you do with Angry Robot.
Who was your favourite character to develop and write for in Poltergeeks?
Betty – end of story. She’s a bit amoral and a very colourful character. When you have a character with no moral code other than an understanding of good vs evil, you get to write in a no-holds barred kind of way. So I really wanted a character who’d leap off the page in her eccentricities – Betty wears a garish leopard skin outfit – she looks like someone you’d see in an ad for a 1958 Chevrolet. She’s larger than life and fun as hell to write.
Julie is a very sassy character – did you enjoy writing from her perspective?
There’s a certain amount of snark required of all protagonists in urban fantasy. There’s a bit of the happy warrior/self-deprecating hero in those kinds of characters. Julie is a great character because she is utterly fearless in the face of impossible odds but she’s terrified of losing those people closest to her. She’s a little bit doomed, but I think all UF protagonists are a little bit doomed in their own way. She’s strong, she’s sassy, she’s not at all afraid to unleash hell on earth to defeat the bad guy. She’s also vulnerable in the way that all teenagers are vulnerable.
If you were to 'sell' Poltergeeks using a single quote or line from the book, what would you choose?
“I’m a girl. I’m a witch. I’m a Shadowcull. Someone is going to pay.”
As a self proclaimed ‘comic book geek’, do you see yourself ever producing your own comic book?
I’ve never really thought about it. If I were to do it, I’d probably want to do a graphic novel that is very bleak and disturbing and filled with non-stop action so, you know, zombies. I do love zombies.
Which authors, characters or comic books inspired you when you were growing up?
When I was a teen there was no Young Adult genre. So we all read Stephen King or John Saul. King is the starting point for all good novels where we’re asking the reader to suspend belief for a few hundred pages. THE STAND is at the epicenter of this, I think. But anyone who wants to write something creepy where young people are involved needs to read John Saul’s earlier works like “When the Wind Blows” or “Comes the Blind Fury”.
If you could be a superhero what would your special powers be?
Flight and the ability to cause things to explode with just a thought.
What can we expect next from Sean Cummings?The sequel to POLTERGEEKS has been submitted to my editor at Strange Chemistry. It’s called STUDENT BODIES and it’s a much darker book. My agent is shopping an adult UF called TIM REAPER and I do hope it finds a publisher because it’s a thrilling read with a great central character who is even more amoral than Betty in POLTERGEEKS. I have to do revisions for an apocalyptic YA novel I’ve written called THE NORTH.
Thank you so much Sean for taking time to answer my questions! If you would like more information on Sean or his first YA book Poltergeeks which will be published on October 4th 2012 by Strange Chemistry, you can find it here: