The last time we talked to author Perry Moore his first novel, Hero, was hitting the stands. Now that the breakout book is a hit, it's recently been released in paperback. Moore is currently busy finishing a new book on werewolves and producing the third Narnia movie, The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, which is about to go into production in Australia. We caught up with Perry to chat about the Hero television series that is currently awaiting the green light, his new book, and what it's like to work shoulder to shoulder with comic book legend Stan Lee.
Out: So Perry, what have you been up to?
Perry Moore: We're about to start shooting the new Narnia movie (Voyage of the Dawn Treader). I got a new script today, and I have to go out there RIGHT after the Fourth of July, so I'm racing to finish my new book, which is about done. Which ironically it is not the sequel to Hero. I will do a sequel -- a second and a third book -- and we'll see if it gets picked up as a series at Showtime. I would love for you to urge your readers to write into Bob Greenblatt, president of Showtime. They have been wonderful. I feel so honored to be part of their programming. We were brought on early and Stan Lee came very early on, which is a dream come true for me.
Did you just have the script for Hero? Was anything ever shot?
We are waiting to find out. No one knows if they have a show at Showtime. We know we're at the top tier, but no one has a clue where we stand. We nailed the script, and it's really cast dependent, so I'm also really interested in your readers opinions on who should play who. I have dream people for Hal, the father, but for Thom and Goran it's wide open because I don't really know the younger generation and I would like to cast someone new and brave, the way we did with Narnia. I like casting a lot, I take full responsibility for Tilda Swinton in Narnia.
Who are some dream people you would want for the cast of Hero?
Hero is very personal for me, and without the superpowers it's very autobiographical. I learned a little something from C.S. Lewis: one is never talk down to audience, even if they're young. The best fantasy in allegory is based in reality. I always wanted to tell the story of my father and me. These two characters long to find their place in the universe. I always thought I didn't fit in because here I was a young gay athlete, and my dad's a Vietnam veteran, and he came back to a world he didn't believe he fit in. For the dad I would love to see someone like Dennis Quiad. For Ruth, who's one of my favorite characters, I would love to see Gena Rowlands, or anyone from Lily Tomlin to Jane Fonda. There are tons of great actressesI would love to see in that role, but I would love to hear what your readers think for casting. Have them write into my website, perrymoorestories.com with suggestions.
Were you surprised by the success of Hero?
No, I wasn't, but a lot of people were surprised that Narnia was a hit -- but I wasn't. I believe in the power of storytelling, and being raised in the south, my parents taught us very clearly that no one was put on God's green earth to sit in the back of the bus. So I took that to task with Hero. I wanted to write a story that had never been written before and I wanted to make the first gay superhero that was the star of his own show -- one who's not gay comic relief, who's not a victim, and as he recognizes who he is, he becomes more powerful.
How did you go about getting it published? Was it hard?
Surprisingly, it wasn't that hard. There was a bidding war because a couple of publishers wanted it. I was expecting a good old fashioned book burning. I have such respect for authors of young adult fiction because they influenced my life so much growing up. Literally, English teachers and librarians saved my life growing up. Being raised Christian and being gay I thought I was going to hell for who I was and these were people in stories that gave me faith otherwise. One of my proudest achievements was winning the LAMBDA award and also the American Librarian Association Award. It's a non-issue I think, for a lot of people. People have said it's nice that [being gay] is part of who Thom is, not the entirety of who he is. That which you think may alienate you, once you embrace it, may make you the most powerful being you are. You're a light on this earth that's meant to shine, and until you start shining you're not doing your job completely.
Why did you go with Showtime?
Showtime has a rich tradition of very gay friendly programming, but I don't think they have something like this. As Stan Lee said: "This thing would be interesting even if they didn't have superpowers!" They really know their stuff at Showtime -- they believe characters come first and so do I.
How did Stan Lee get involved in the project?
He called me! I couldn't believe it! They told me one day, "Stan Lee's on line one!" and I was like, "Yeah, and Queen Elizabeth's on line two." My favorite time in L.A. was going with Stan to pitch Hero. We had a strong pitch and I'm really proud of the script.
Will it be an hour show?
It'll be an hour. It's unlike anything you've ever seen before. I was frustrated with the lack of gay characters in comics -- there weren't really any heroes and when there were, I mean, how many times can you kill off Northstar? There was this debacle, you should look it up, called Freedom Ring, where one week the president of Marvel said, "We have this open door policy. We are gay friendly," but he unfortunately didn't look at the next issue where the gay character was skewered forty times by an evil alternate Iron Man. There were some unfortunate incidents, but there are some very positive steps forward.
Are there any characters you like right now?
Allen Heinberg, who wrote Young Avengers, is one of my heroes, and I love Midnighter and Apollo, also. Midnighter is so loved, but I would love to get my hands on Apollo and do him the right way. They just don't do much with his character. But I like doing my own stuff too. In my next book, Way of the Wolf, I completely reinvent and rewrite the werewolf myth. I love mythologies and I like doing things my own way.
When can we expect Way of the Wolf?
I'm just about finished with it. I'm literally in the home stretch -- writing the climax right now. There's such a camaraderie of people who write young adult fiction, and comic books for that matter. One of my highlights was at the San Diego Comic Con last year and doing the LGBT panel and bringing Stan Lee out as a surprise guest. People were crying and cheering. I'm the luckiest guy in the world living the ultimate fanboy's dream.
When will you find out if Hero got picked up?
Hopefully in the next couple weeks. Like I said, it would help a ton if people wrote to Showtime. They don't have The L Word anymore, and there's something for everyone. I think they need that type of programming.
So if it got picked up would it be ready to shoot right away?
Yes! If we got picked up we would shoot that pilot so fast. We know exactly what we want to do with every season, every cliffhanger. We know exactly what we want to do with this first cycle, this first season. We're still looking at casting especially with Thom and Goran. They have to be sexy -- there are some sexy basketball scenes and they're supposed to be a couple. The sequel will definitely take their relationship to the next level and throw many obstacles in their way. So we'll see if they can survive it. I'm so excited about the future and what it holds and how these stories can shape and change and delight and inspire the hero in all of us. I'm a firm believer -- call me one of those crazy optimistic people -- but I believe there is a hero in all of us.