Last year, when I first heard about Lisa Yee’s new Super Hero High series, I could barely control my excitement. Even before I got to see and read Wonder Woman at Super Hero High, the first book in the series, I knew kids were going to love these books and that they had to have a home in classroom libraries.
I’ve known Lisa for a number of years now — seen her get lost on the New York City subway, watched her break the internet (many times), and of course, taken photos with Peepy. I was thrilled when she agreed to answer a few questions about her series and this experience.
My first question is about craft: Supergirl at Super Hero High is out July 5. How was the experience of creating the Supergirl character different from the creating of the Wonder Woman character? What did you learn from writing Wonder Woman that you were able to apply in the writing of Supergirl?
Since Wonder Woman at Super Hero High was the first novel in the series, I was building an alternate DC Universe with superheroes and super villains, all in high school together. With that in place for the second book, I could focus more on Supergirl’s backstory and character.
Wonder Woman and Supergirl are such different characters. Wonder Woman was born with her powers and raised to be a strong powerful leader. Supergirl’s powers came about after she lost her parents. Though Supergirl is popular, friendly, and outgoing, she has several adjustments she must make, including getting over the loss of her planet and family, being the new girl at Super Hero High, and learning to control her powers.
Both Supergirl and Wonder Woman are licensed characters in the DC Universe. How limited were you in building their backstories? How much flexibility did you have?
I was given a “Bible” of iconic DC characters. That is, extensive background information on all of them. There’s a DC Super Hero Girls animated series, so I had those scripts as well. The books compliment, but do not contradict the animation. I was able to create new and original storylines for the characters.
I think it’s so cool you get to write these books! How did the DC SuperHero Girls project come to be?
I didn’t even know I was being considered as the author! I had written a book called Warp Speed about a Star Trek geek who gets beat up everyday. There’s a lot of Batman and Star Wars in that book. The editors read Warp Speed and some of my other books and thought I’d be the right person for the job. As one of the editors told me, “You are just the right amount of geek!”
I’ve just ensnared you in my Lasso of Truth. If you could be a superhero, who would you want to be?
When I was a kid I loved the Batman TV series. I wanted to marry Robin. But then later, the Wonder Woman TV show came on and I no longer wanted to marry Robin . . . I wanted to be Wonder Woman.
What’s your super power? What do you want it to be? Mine’s a pause button. Like Zack on Saved By the Bell. “Time out!”
My current super power is that I can fall asleep on an airplane before it takes off and then wake up after it lands. However, if I could change that, I wouldn’t mind being able to control the weather. And to be able to fly. How about, controlling the weather while flying?
You’ve gotten to be a part of some amazing experiences as a result of this project? What are two of your favorites?
I’ve had a blast going to comic cons and talking super heroes. And I especially love seeing the little girls dressed up as super heroes!
Our Super Heroes are our Greek and Roman Gods and Goddess. There’s an entire generation of readers — thanks to authors like Rick Riordan and George O’Connor — who are so well versed in that world. How do we get those readers — many of whom are boys — to pick up one of these books?
The DC Super Hero Girls series is not just for girls. It’s about strong teens navigating through the uncharted territory known as high school — and there are girls and boys there like Batgirl, Beast Boy, The Flash, etc. Even though the stories are about super heroes, they are also grounded in a reality that all readers can identify with. I like to think that it’s not so much I’m writing about super heroes who happen to be teens, but that I am writing about teens who happen to be super heroes.
I would love to see the DC SuperHero Girls books in third, fourth, and fifth grade classroom libraries. What to you say to the teachers who are considering adding it to the classroom collection?
I’ve heard from so many parents, teachers, and librarians about this series. The stories are fun, the characters are empowering, and the scenarios challenge the imagination. Not everyone is into graphic novels or comics, so the DC Super Hero Girls books are a great way to bring the world of these super teens into the lives of readers.
You can find Lisa Yee on the interwebs — assuming she doesn’t break it again — at http://www.lisayee.com/ and follow her on Twitter at @LisaYee1