Interview with Ian Thomas Healy

Ian Thomas Healy

Interview Date: 5/30/2012


Ian Thomas Healy is a prolific writer who dabbles in many different speculative genres. His superhero novel Deep Six: A Just Cause Novel was a Top 100 Semi-finalist in the 2008 Breakthrough Novel Award. He’s an eight-time participant and winner of National Novel Writing Month where he’s tackled such diverse subjects as sentient alien farts, competitive forklift racing, a religion-powered rabbit-themed superhero, cyberpunk mercenaries, cowboy elves, and an unlikely combination of vampires with minor league hockey. He is also the creator of the Writing Better Action Through Cinematic Techniques workshop, which helps writers to improve their action scenes.
His goal is to become as integral to the genre of superhero fiction as William Gibson was to cyberpunk and Anne Rice was to urban fantasy. The first book in his Just Cause Universe series, JUST CAUSE, is available now from New Babel Books.
When not writing, which is rare, he enjoys watching hockey, reading comic books (and serious books, too), and living in the great state of Colorado, which he shares with his wife Richelle, his children Patrick, Caitlin, and Zachary, house-pets Smokey, Samwise, Morrigan, Isis, and approximately five million other people. Follow him on Twitter as @ianthealy. His ebooks can be found on Smashwords, Kindle, Nook, iBook Store, and other online retailers.

When did you start writing, and was there a significant event that prompted you to do so?

I've been writing stories as long as I can remember. One of the earliest I wrote was a little eight-page thumbprint book called The Happy Days Gang Goes to the Disco. I scanned it a few years ago and it's on my Facebook page now. I think I was in first or second grade at the time. Maybe younger.

If you could have one superpower, what would it be? (Assuming said power would be reasonably "powerful.")

I'm partial to super-speed, and I'd like to think I could give my character Mustang Sally a *ahem* run for her money.

Kev's response: Interesting. I felt the need to kill off my super-speedster in my 4th H.E.R.O. novel, because I was getting to the point of having too many heroes that could get to any crime in the city if they truly wanted to. It would have started an inter-hero fued over the commissions....

Do you have a favorite superhero from novels, comics, or movies?

I've found that the second- and third-tier heroes are often far more fascinating to me than the flagship characters. I think the duo of the Ted Kord Blue Beetle and Booster Gold together were one of the most fun pairings in all of comics.

Kev's response: I'm only vaguely familiar with the Blue Beetle, but I found Booster Gold to be an interesting character.

Where do you get your inspiration for writing? What motivates you?

I actually explained this in a video earlier this year:

Do you pre-plan your stories, or are you a by-the-seat-of-the-pants style writer?

I have done both. For the longest time I was strictly a pantser, but more recently I've taken to doing some level of advance plotting, and I think it has resulted in better stories overall.

Kev's response: Same here. More complex plots, although I do enjoy how the characters drive a story in pants-style writing.

Do you write only when inspired, or do you have a set schedule where you sit down to write?

I write absolutely whenever I can. I have software on my phone that allows me to write on it, so sometimes I'll jot down a paragraph or two wherever I might happen to be. I have, in fact, written four novels primarily on my mobile.

Do you have a favorite genre to write in? To read?

I've branched out and written in a lot of the speculative fiction genres, ranging from superheroes to science fiction to fantasy to horror. My agent is representing a mainstream Young Adult manuscript without any unusual aspects. I find myself always coming back to the superhero stuff, and that's where the bulk of my work lies.
As far as reading, I'm a sucker for a good story and writing that flows so well it doesn't wake up my inner writer. It's easy for me to read some books where I keep pulling myself out of the narrative, thinking "I wouldn't have done that," or "Geez, who uses adverbs like 'muscle-slicingly'?" I like good space operas best, but they're few and far between.

What do you enjoy the most about writing?

Bringing the characters to life on the page. Hearing the reactions and reading the reviews from people who really enjoyed my work. That's vindication right there. Getting compliments from total strangers is almost better even than getting paid to write. Almost.

Is there any part of writing that you don't enjoy?

I don't like the office manager and secretarial aspects of having to be a self-published writer. I have had to swing the Mighty Hammer of Contractual Obligations far more than I would like in order to get royalties and consignments returned. I don't like how people will sometimes write a bad review simply because they thought a short story was too short, but even those are better than no reviews at all.

Can you tell me something odd about yourself?

I have mad forklift skills.

Kev's response: By mad, I'm going to go with "insane." I'm also going to assume you are wearing some kind of villain's costume while tooling around the warehouse. >;)

Do you write one story at a time, or do you have several novels in the works at one time?

I always have several projects in various stages of completeness. Usually I am actively writing one novel, possibly also writing a short story, revising another novel, and preparing another for submission. I have gigabytes of unfinished work that I fully intend to tackle someday.

In my evil plot to take over the world, what one animal type do you advise I use and why?

Prairie dogs. Nobody notices them, but they're everywhere. When they rise up, it will be wave after wave of furry, chittering fury.

Kev's response: I'm all over the chittering fury!

Where do you see the future as far as paper books versus digital e-books?

I think a happy medium will develop between the two and the best authors will work both sides of that fence. In the meantime, the publishing industry is going to go through some desperately-needed overhauling, bringing itself kicking and screaming into the 21st Century and leaving behind the 19th-Century business model they've been using forever. It's a very exciting time to be a writer, if you can keep your wits about you when all others are screaming about IT'S THE END OF ALL EVERYTHING EVERYWHERE ZOMG.

Kev's response: Hmm. Perhaps I should be hiring agents as minions for my evil plot.

What are your current projects?

Right now, I'm wrapping up revisions on a superhero urban fantasy called ROOFTOPS, about to start revisions on a humorous space opera called STARF*CKER (the asterisk is part of the title), and writing another mainstream Young Adult book about two friends in a televised cooking competition. As soon as that's done, I'll finish the first draft of another Just Cause Universe novel.

Kev's response: Nice name, I'm not a huge fan of non-letter characters at this point, because I believe the periods in "H.E.R.O." are causing issues with search engines.

Do you have any advice for others about self-publishing?

You must learn how to write. You must get your work edited by a skilled professional. You must learn how to design an eye-catching cover or be willing to pay someone to do it. You must be willing to take the long-term view of your work, because nobody gets rich quick in this industry.

Kev's response: Aye, that's the truth.

Do you have any online sites where readers can find out more about you (and your books)?

I can be found at,,, and on Twitter as @ianthealy. My books are for sale on Local Hero Press, Amazon, Barnes & Noble, the Apple iBookstore, Sony ebookstore, Smashwords, and from New Babel Books. Make sure you look for Ian THOMAS Healy, because there's an Ian ANDREW Healy who's an Australian cricket player, and to my knowledge he hasn't written any superhero books.
Thanks for the opportunity!
-- Get JUST CAUSE from New Babel Books
Author website
Write Better Action Using Cinematic Techniques
Visit my online bookstore!
Twitter: @ianthealy
Facebook Page: Author Ian Thomas Healy

Kev's response: Ian, thanks much for your time, and it was great hearing from another author in the superhero genre! Good fortune on the great variety of work you have in progress!

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