INTERVIEW: Samuel Sattin, Author of the Unconventional Superhero Epic LEAGUE OF SOMEBODIES
Samuel Sattin is a graduate of the Mills College MFA in creative writing and the recipient of NYS and SLS Fellowships. His work has appeared in Salon Magazine, io9, Kotaku, The Good Men Project, and Heeb Magazine,and been featured in the The New Yorker, amongst others. He is currently a Contributing Editor at The Weeklings, and lives in Oakland, California, with his wife, beagle, and tuxedo cat. League of Somebodies is his first novel.
Samuel was kind enough to answer some questions I had after reading his debut novel, League of Somebodies.
Nick Sharps: Sell me League of Somebodies in as few words as possible.
Samuel Sattin: League of Somebodies is an unconventional superhero epic that rages against the norm, an alchemical tale of fathers, sons, mothers, and monsters that digs at the heart of what it means to be a man, often without mercy.
NS: What inspired League of Somebodies? What are your influences?
SS: I wanted to write a book that was both an homage to and critique of the archetypal male hero. I’m a huge comic book geek and read everything— from Grant Morrison, Alan Moore, Scott Snyder and Brian K. Vaughan to Chris Ware, Joann Sfar, and Jeff Lemire. I read a lot of literary fiction, fantasy, and sci-fi as well, and make a clear effort not to put one genre ahead of another. My favorite literary works, novels by authors like Jonathan Lethem, Salman Rushdie, and Ursula K. Le Guin end up revealing how trivial boundaries put up by the ‘literati’ really are. I think that’s why I set out write a book that couldn’t quite be pinned down in the first place. I get worked up at the idea that a novel has to embody a pureness of genre, or that one set of pathos can triumph ultimately over another. League was an exercise in pushing boundaries. If anything, I hope it did so successfully.
NS: The Manaton had to be fun to write about, how did you get in the right mindset?
SS: For years I had been telling stories to friends about my father and the hyper-masculine comedy of errors enacted upon us growing up. The Manaton thus takes on the form of a guidebook I’d expect my father—or one of my father’s distant ancestors—capable of penning. The antiquitous text style reflects my fascination with European scientific writings of the 18th and 19th century, where the distance between what is known and what is imagined is especially profound. Also, since masculinity as a rule seems to revere itself as holy, I wanted the book to take on an infallible, biblical aspect. Holy texts tend to contain an element of the fanatical and/or insane. That’s the aesthetic I was shooting for.
NS: Forgive me but I have to ask, given the traumatic father-son relationships of League of Somebodies – how’s your relationship with your father?
SS: Short answer: Complicated.
NS: How do you feel about the current state of superhero movies/comics? Do you have any favorites?
SS: To tell you the truth, I’m really happy with it! I think that what comic writers have been doing for the past thirty years is finally being regarded with seriousness by the film industry. When you look at the Adam West Batman from the sixties, with its psychedelic silliness, you can see how problematic things used to be. As far as modern films, some hit the mark more than others (I for one am a huge fan of the Nolan Batman films, albeit I know others who are not for valid reasons) but at least we’re seeing directors lending dedication and focus to projects that truly deserve it.
NS: I’d love to see a low budget film adaptation of League of Somebodies (preferably directed by James Gunn). How would you feel about a movie? Are there any directors you’d want to direct it? Any actors you’d want cast?
SS: Ha—me too! I love James Gunn—Super was an incredible film. That would be a definite pick. In my wildest dreams Jared Hess or Rain Johnson would take on the project, either them or the Coen Brothers (although I understand landing them would be less likely than acquiring a Viking barge for Hanukkah). As far as actors, I haven’t thought about it too much, but I love imagining a more semitic looking Billy Connoly for Fearghas, and Patrick Warburton for a grown up Lenard. Jeff Goldblum might head off THEY, and Mickey Rorke would make a great Agamemnon. Also, I can imagine Marissa Tomei as Laura. She’d be perfect
NS: What’s next for Samuel Sattin?
SS: This next year I’ll be working on a couple of projects. One is a novel in progress, titled, as of right now, The Silent End. It’s a literary/horror/comedy blend that involves adolescents in a creepy, dreamlike small town that are attempting to hunt down and slay a horrible monster. Alongside that, I’ll be looking towards working on a graphic novel this year, and getting that finished up before 2014.
NS: If League of Somebodies were an ice cream flavor, which would it be?
SS: Lunar Cheesecake.
NS: Any final words for potential readers?
SS: If you buy my book and we meet each other on the street I will give you a high five and/or engage in thumbwar. Also, I encourage you to contact me with questions, comments, insults, etc, by using the form submission on my website: www.samuelsattin.net I enjoy being disturbed.
Filed under: Interviews
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