Ian Thomas Healy Talks Candidly About The Archmage:


Tell us about your latest book.

 The Archmage is a sequel to the novel Just Cause, starring the super-speedy Mustang Sally along with the rest of the Just Cause superhero team. In it, I explore the use of magic in a superhero setting. In this case, a character named Wolfgang Frasier has been slaughtering other mages around the world and taking their power for himself. He’s gotten so powerful that there is only one other mage remaining besides him, the hero Stratocaster, who is a member of the Lucky Seven hero team that Sally trained with at the beginning of Just Cause. If Frasier manages to kill Stratocaster, his power becomes absolute and he could plunge the entire world into darkness, becoming its total ruler. This is, of course, his goal. Sally and the other heroes have no choice but to try to stop him, even though his power is so great that he can call armies of the dead out of the ground and turn anyone captured to his side. There’s a nifty bit of time travel thanks to magic going awry that sends the team back to the 1870s, and of course some great intrigue and epic, cinematic battles. At the same time, Sally’s relationship with Jason is growing much more complex and suffering growing pains all its own.

What is Local Hero Press?

LHP is an imprint I created specifically for the release of my novel-length work and collections. I didn’t want to simply release them under my own name as the publisher because with such a wide variety of genres under my belt, I wanted something to tie them all together. This way, if someone buys The Archmage, likes it, and looks to see what else LHP has to offer, they might discover Blood on the Ice or Pariah’s Moon or Troubleshooters.

You do write in a variety of genres. Tell us about some of them.

I don’t like to be pigeonholed, so I don’t force myself to stay in one genre, if I’m interested in writing in a different one. This goes against common wisdom of building a brand, from what I’ve seen on the internet, so I’m forming my own uncommon wisdom instead. That again ties back to the LHP imprint by creating a common thread beyond just my name. I follow my muse, so I’ve gone from superheroes (Just Cause, The Archmage) to funny science fiction (The Milkman), to cyberpunk (Troubleshooters), to fantasy/Western (Pariah’s Moon), to urban fantasy sports (Blood on the Ice), to religious symbolism (Hope and Undead Elvis) and even more. And if my agent sells The Guitarist, I can add “Mainstream Young Adult” to my genres.

 You have an agent?  I thought you were self-published.

 I do have an agent, Carly Watters of PS Literary Agency in Toronto. She represents my Young Adult work only, and when we discussed the possibility of her representing me, we both agreed that she could still effectively represent a portion of my work and I could still effectively release my speculative and adult fiction without interfering with one another. I am, in fact, searching for a second literary agent to represent The Oilman’s Daughter, the epic steampunk/space opera that I coauthored with my dear friend Allison M. Dickson.

 What’s it like working with another writer so closely on a project?

I’m not sure I have anything better to compare it to than a successful marriage. We worked very closely together on the project (two time zones separating us notwithstanding!). We had complete trust with each other, and were able to discuss what should have been extremely divisive and difficult issues not only with calm heads, but with a sense of joy that only two opposing viewpoints between dear friends can bring. The best thing about working with someone like that is going back through the manuscript and not being able to tell exactly who wrote which parts. That’s just awesome.

Prof. Jenn’s Custom Questions: 

How does this sequel to Just Cause continue the universe/make its characters grow? Will we enjoy it if we haven’t yet read Just Cause?

 I’ll answer the second part first. Yes, you’ll enjoy it. I have intentionally designed every Just Cause Universe book as a self-contained tale. Yes, it’s part of the larger universe, and there are storylines that carry over from the previous books, but not in such a way that a new reader will be lost. If you have read Just Cause, you’ll find the relationship between Sally and Jason growing and changing, like relationships tend to do. You’ll find Sally’s relationships with other members of her team changing as well. You’ll also see her maturing more, a process which began in Just Cause. She’s a young woman who’s still trying to find her place in the world, and that means a lot of growing pains.

Are there plans for more books in this universe? What direction/s will they take?

 I have tentatively planned 19 books for the Just Cause Universe. Yeah, that’s a lot. Besides The Archmage and Just Cause, I have three more novels completed. Some expand the other areas of the universe, focusing on characters only circuitously related to Just Cause. Others deal with prior incarnations of the team, set in the ‘70s, or ‘40s, for example. Remember that Sally is a third-generation superhero. Both her parents and her grandparents were involved in the Just Cause team, so that’s a lot of history to explore.

Any plans to branch out in comic versions/spinoffs?

If any artist reading this wants to talk to me about graphic novel adaptations of my work, feel free to contact me via my website (www.ianthealy.com). At the moment, I’m not looking for any original JCU stories, although that’s certainly an option for the future.

Jump up on a soapbox about self e-publishing. What’s been your experience, and would you recommend it?

*boing* My experience has been almost uniformly positive. My goal has always been to make my work accessible and available for people to read, and it’s been a real boost to get so many positive reviews. That encourages me to continue with my work. That being said, I am still looking to break into traditional publishing via my agent or another avenue. Self-publishing is a slow road, and in spite of the rags-to-riches tales permeating the internet, you’re probably not going to be the one who starts selling a million copies a month. You’re probably not going to start selling a hundred copies a month either. My first month as an ebook publisher, I think I sold five copies total. Now I’m averaging about three copies sold at retail price per day across all platforms. Some of those are novels, others are short stories. I lump ‘em all together because it feels a lot better to me.

I do recommend self-publishing with the following caveats: Short stories, novellas, and cross-genre works make great fodder for self-publishing. If you have a completed novel that might be commercially viable, take the time and the effort to try to sell it traditionally first. If it doesn’t sell that way, then epublish it. Ignoring potential traditional sales and focusing solely on self-publishing (or vice versa) is like only shaving one leg and wearing shorts. And don’t cheat by self-publishing: you still need to do thorough editing and revision, and design (or pay for) a great cover. If your beta readers can’t tell you honestly that your work stands up on its own beside similar traditionally-published work, you need to head back to the editing table.

What’s a favorite book you’re reading right now? 

Right now, I’m reading Infernal Devices by K.W. Jeter. It’s a Victorian steampunk novel and I’m enjoying it.


The Archmage, book 2 of the Just Cause Universe series, launches from all online retailers on September 1, 2012. Exclusive signed editions can be purchased directly from Local Hero Press (http://localheropress.ianthealy.com).

Find Ian on Twitter and follow Local Hero Press

On Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/AuthorIanThomasHealy and http://www.facebook.com/LocalHeroPress

Author website: www.ianthealy.com

*This post originally appeared at Bonzuko.   ~Prof. Jenn