I took a well-needed break after NaNo ended before coming back to the basics in July 2016 and wrestling the entire outline into something more unique, interesting, and just generally solid – a process which I only really finished in January of this year, when I started writing again! Overall, things have been pretty good so far – I've made some good progress, as demonstrated below:
First three chapters of NO MORE HEROES 2 draft v1 (so far): 17,239 words
Pretty exciting! NO MORE HEROES is technically classified as a short novel, but who knows, maybe I'll hit novel-novel length this time. I'm feeling so much better about the story since I took the time to rework everything, and I'm actually looking forward to everything I've got planned, which makes a nice change from the dread and despair I often experienced during my first attempt. I'm especially looking forward to introducing some new characters in this next instalment of the NO MORE HEROES saga, all of who will help make my character cast even more diverse!
NO MORE HEROES is the first long-form story that I've actually committed to, and the Vigilante universe is a place which I'm hoping I can make as colourful and inclusive as possible. Half of the cast in NO MORE HEROES are characters of colour and/or on the rainbow spectrum in some way*, and additionally (although, I admit, not all explicitly – I'm working on that part) several of the cast have disabilities such as ADHD, dyslexia, anxiety disorder or depression.
One character in particular holds an especially important place in my heart for many reasons. Fang (aka Resonance) is one of the secondary cast members of NO MORE HEROES – a quick-thinking, quick-footed Vigilante who is adept at parkour and more than skilled at holding her own in a fight. She also happens to be a character of Cantonese Chinese descent, is quite comfortably genderfluid, sits on the asexual/aromantic spectrums, and suffers from an anxiety disorder.
The fact that she exists as a real character in a real book now – even if she was my creation – makes me incredibly happy. She's the kind of character I wish I could have seen in books when I was growing up – I was a voracious reader as a kid, but I could count the number of books I read with Chinese characters in them on one hand. Fortunately, with the rise of indie authors and structures such as #WeNeedDiverseBooks and #OwnVoices, it's possible for me now to see such characters in fiction, and that's rad!
With the writing of NO MORE HEROES 2 now well on its way, I'm very much looking forward to introducing a few more cool cats into the Vigilante family, some of whom have disabilities of either the auditory, visual or physical variety. Plans for the third instalment include the re-introduction of a character with depression, as well as the formal introduction of another non-binary character, and a hijabi Vigilante! As in NO MORE HEROES, many of these new cast members will be either characters of colour and/or sit on the rainbow spectrum in some way – but that goes without saying, really!
As always, all will have their time in the fighty spotlight, and I'm really looking forward to being able to write for these new characters. One of my absolute favourite parts of character creation (at least, for this series) is deciding how each character speaks, moves and/or fights, and how their background and/or physicality influences their style. Call it Diversity in Motion – it's an important concept to me, and something I'd love to see more of in visual martial-arts or action-based media, to be honest! Is the character defensive, offensive or deflective? Are they swift, tank or adaptive?
So far I've included characters who practice parkour and/or freerunning (each with their own flavours of flow), kickboxing, Muay Thai, capoeira and rope dart – as well as some good ol' fashioned street fighting and fake-it-'til-you-make-it gusto. Movement disciplines are a big part of what influences me in the continued creation of the Vigilante universe and its inhabitants (as well as music, graphic novels and video games), and the prospect of being able to expand on this is super exciting and rewarding for me.
Commitments pending, I'm hoping to be able to publish NO MORE HEROES 2 sometime later this year, or the beginning of next. Life as an independent/freelance filmmaker and videographer can be pretty wild though, so who knows! Stay tuned for more as it comes, folks.
If you haven't read NO MORE HEROES yet but would like to dive into the Vigilante universe before the next instalment is released, you can get physical or eBook editions either via the Gumroad or on Amazon. For those of you who have enjoyed my work so far and would like to help support me, I recently set up a Ko-Fi page where you can show your appreciation by buying me a coffee!
Now, it's back to writing for me. I'll chat to you all later! : )
In terms of gender identity, there are non-binary/trans characters (one of whom has been formally established, the other who is yet to be established), and one questioning character whose questioning I haven't formally addressed yet, but am wanting to explore.
Regarding sexuality, I'll be honest – by unconscious/automatic default, every character I create ends up either asexual and/or aromantic unless otherwise suggested or specified. If you wanted to read through the entirety of NO MORE HEROES under that assumption, feel free! In a way, you wouldn't be wrong. Otherwise, there are several characters who are gay/lesbian or bi.