While growing up, David Reiss was that weird kid with his nose in a book and his head in the clouds. He was the table-top role-playing game geek, the comic-book nerd, the story-teller and dreamer.

Fortunately, he hasn’t changed much.

David is a software engineer by trade and a long-time sci-fi and fantasy devotee by passion, and he lives in Silicon Valley with his partner of twenty-six years. Until recently, he also shared his life with a disturbingly spoiled cat named Freya.

(Farewell, little huntress. You were loved. You are missed.)

David’s first book, Fid’s Crusade, has just recently been published; this was his first novel-length project, but it certainly won’t be his last—he’s having far too much fun!

Book Description

Consumed by grief, rage, and self-loathing, a brilliant inventor rebuilt himself to take on a new identity: the powered-armor-wearing supervillain, Doctor Fid. For twenty violent years, Fid has continued his quest to punish heroes who he considers to be unworthy of their accolades, and the Doctor has left a long trail of blood and misery in his wake. After a personal tragedy, however, Doctor Fid investigates a crime and uncovers a conspiracy so terrible that even he is taken aback.

Haunted by painful memories and profound guilt, the veteran supervillain must risk everything to save the world that he once sought to terrorize. Every battle takes its toll…but the stakes are too high for retreat to be an option.

In the end, it may take a villain to save the entire Earth from those entrusted with the Earth’s protection.

Interview:

Your new book, Fid’s Crusade, sounds out of this world, literally! Can you tell us how you came up with the idea to write your book?

Superheroes are everywhere these days and (as a long-time comic book geek) I’ve been thrilled to see some of my childhood’s favorite characters being brought to the big screen. One thing that I’ve noticed, however, is that in many of these stories…the action really starts with the villain. A bad guy robs a bank or tries to take over the city, and the heroes step up and risk their lives to save the day. There are definitely powerful stories to be told within that framework, but (in general) the protagonists are reactive. So…I suppose that my inspiration was to approach a very well-known and popular genre from an oblique angle, and to really focus in on the place where the majority of conflict originates: behind the villain’s mask.

Can you tell us a little about the main characters?

The protagonist is a brilliant powered-armor-wielding supervillain who goes by the name of Doctor Fid, but the truth is that the story is less about his strength and more about his moral and emotional evolution. He’s a character driven by grief and rage, and he’s spent twenty years trying to punish the heroes who he feels to be unworthy of the public’s trust. He’s a man who has gloried in violence and destruction, and yet, he’s also a socially awkward, desperately lonely figure who’s sacrificed everything for a cause that stopped being relevant years earlier. He’s tragic and flawed and dangerous…and terribly human. There are plenty of opportunities for the kind of action that is expected from a story about superheroes and supervillains, but the novel also explores themes of growth and empathy, of confronting the demons of one’s past and of trying to find a new path forward.

The cast includes a number of other characters, some of whom have succumbed to allow themselves be defined by their failings and others who choose to struggle against them. There are pacifistic villains and others who are monstrous, and heroes with a similar range of traits. Also, a young artificially-sentient android girl who is intelligent enough to near-instantaneously digest every word that has ever been published online about the subject of swimming, but still doggy-paddles because she’s afraid to get water in her eyes.

Everyone is human underneath their costumes. Even the robots.

Where was your book set and why did you choose that particular region/location?

Doctor Fid travels a fair bit but he makes his home in Boston. When I started writing, I chose the region out convenience—the main character had been an academic prior to embarking on his villainous career and M.I.T. was an obvious choice for his alma mater, the city is close enough to Manhattan that he could visit NYC regularly but remote enough that there would be a different cast of local heroes and villains, and that the city is sufficiently cosmopolitan to act as a backdrop for a wide range of competing cultures and influences.

Even though I’d visited Boston several times in the past—I had friends who attended college there, and my brother had lived there for a while—I needed to do a fair bit of research on the city (and surrounding regions) as the novel coalesced. I’ve come to love the city from a distance and hope to travel out there soon to explore some of the sites that I’ve experienced only in prose.

They say all books of fiction have at least one pivotal point where the reader just can’t put the book down. What is one of the pivotal points in your book?

There’s a sequence in which Doctor Fid travels across country to explore a deceased villain’s hidden lair. His original intent was to acquire lost technology, but that plan is derailed when he encounters a new character who will eventually have an immense impact upon his life. To me, that scene is one of the most pivotal moments in the protagonist’s journey; it has what I hope are touching moments but also provides hints at big changes and significant challenges that will need to be overcome.

Do you believe because you spent a lot of time reading when you were younger, that that was one influence that played a part in who you are today?

Being a voracious reader had a tremendous influence on my life, so much so that it’s difficult to imagine who I would be if not for the stories I immersed myself within.

If I’ve found love and happiness and friendship and trust, it’s because I experienced these things first within the pages of books and knew what to look for when those opportunities arose in real life.

What was it like growing up? Can you tell us a little bit about your background/family?

This is a tough one to answer because my family was wonderful. I’ve been loved and supported for my entire life.

And yet…I was an angry, bitter, and horrifically depressed child.

I was the strange kid who didn’t fit in, the weird one who never knew the right thing to say or how to say it, small enough to be every bully’s favorite target and lonely enough that I had no one to go to. I didn’t understand my peers, they didn’t understand me…and I was intelligent enough to be painfully aware of how isolated I’d become.

Fiction was my escape and I spent every moment I could with my nose in a book.

It took a long time and tens of thousands of pages, but I truly believe that it was within fantasy that I found my way back to reality. Through reading about the thoughts and experiences of so many fictional characters, I learned how to understand and interact with the people who I’d never been able to connect with in person.

It can get better. I promise.

Is there anything you’d like to tell your readers and fans?

I want all of my readers and fans to know how incredibly grateful I am for their support. Publishing Fid’s Crusade and its sequels has been a remarkable journey and I’m looking forward to sharing new stories in the future as well.

 

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