Oh my gosh, I am so excited I was able to interview the author of the Heroine Complex books, Sarah Kuhn. I appreciate her taking time to talk with me, especially because this is my favorite Birdie Bookworm interview so far! I felt like I knew exactly what I wanted to ask, and she was so gracious and kind. Ms. Kuhn, you are awesome!
Warning: there are series spoilers in the interview below, but if you’re curious about this series and want spoiler free info, jump to the review at the bottom.
Heroine’s Journey by Sarah Kuhn
Heroine Complex #3
Superhero Urban Fantasy
DAW | July 3, 2018
About the Book: The final book in the smart, snarky, and action-packed Heroine series completes the “Heroic Trio” as Bea Tanaka joins her sister, Evie, and diva Aveda Jupiter in their quest to free San Francisco from its demon portal problem
If there’s one thing Beatrice Tanaka never wanted to be, it’s normal. But somehow, her life has unfolded as a series of “should haves.” Her powers of emotional projection should have made her one of the most formidable superheroes of all time. And she should have been allowed to join her older sister Evie as a full-fledged protector of San Francisco, pulverizing the city’s plethora of demon threats.
But Evie and her superheroing partner, Aveda Jupiter, insist on seeing Bea as the impulsive, tempestuous teenager she used to be–even though she’s now a responsible adult. And that means Bea is currently living a thoroughly normal life. She works as a bookstore lackey, hangs out with best friends Sam Fujikawa and Leah Kim, and calms her workplace’s more difficult customers. Sure, she’s not technically supposed to be playing with people’s mental states. But given the mundanity of her existence, who can blame her?
When a mysterious being starts communicating with Bea, hinting at an evil that’s about to overtake the city, she seizes the opportunity, hoping to turn her “should haves” into the fabulous heroic life she’s always wanted. But gaining that life may
Birdie: I’m so excited to welcome you to Birdie Bookworm! First, I want you to know how much I, as a reader, appreciate you and your imagination. When I wrote my first review of Heroine Complex I said I’d never read another series like it, and that still holds true today. Which leads me to my first question- What was the inspiration for the Heroine Complex world? In particular, what inspired your idea to have your monsters take possession of such unique (and hilarious) objects?
Sarah Kuhn: Wow, thank you so much! Well, I wanted a world that was grounded in something that felt like our world, and I went to college in the Bay Area, so a supernaturally-enhanced San Francisco felt like something I could write realistically—as realistically as one can write a landscape with demonic cupcakes and evil porcelain unicorns, that is. But that was the other part of it—I also wanted to have these big, colorful, over-the-top battle scenes. I would try to think of the most ridiculous images possible—like, what would be funny to see superheroines fight against? I had a picture in my head early on of a whole superteam fending off desserts with fangs—like, these cupcakes and scones and stuff just flying at their heads, trying to chomp them to death. Maybe I was eating a cupcake at the time? An evil cupcake, even? Anyway, that seemed like so much fun, I just had to write that scene. And after that, I couldn’t stop thinking of other weird objects for demons to possess. The porcelain unicorns are kind of my favorite, though, because they’re porcelain unicorns.
Birdie: Those weird demon possessed objects are my favorite! Okay, so Bea, Annie and Evie are all such complex characters (pun totally intended), and well written. Do you identify more with one in particular, or was anyone harder to write?
Sarah Kuhn: I tend to identify the most with whoever I’m writing at the time. It was interesting, because Heroine Complex came out while I was writing Heroine Worship. Annie is kind of an antagonist in Complex, but she’s the protagonist of Worship—so whenever I’d see someone talking about her being mean, I’d be like, awww, no, she’s just misunderstood! I suddenly felt so protective of her, even though I totally thought she was kind of mean while I was writing Complex. Bea was a little harder to get a handle on because she reacts so much from her gut—she doesn’t tend to think things through, she just goes with whatever she’s feeling at the time. I’m totally more of an overthinker, like Annie and Evie. But it was really lovely and freeing to write Bea, because I think she enjoys life more. She relishes it. And the thing that really helped me connect to her is that underneath it all, she’s so scared of getting lost in the shuffle—that no one will ever truly see her as she truly is.
Birdie: It’s exactly how I felt about reading Annie from book 1 to book 2! Getting to see Annie’s vulnerability made me really love her. Plus, full disclosure, but I’m seriously in love with Scott. Completely. I have been since the first book. I have to know, is he also your favorite love interest/side character? Or, are you drawn more to someone else?
Sarah Kuhn: Ha! Well, again, I think I always connect the most to whoever I’m writing at the time, but I love them all. It was fun to write Scott and Annie in Heroine’s Journey, because they’re kind of past all the conflict they had in Complex and Worship, and he can just openly adore her. Since I just wrote Journey, Sam—Bea’s love interest—is probably on my mind the most at the moment. Competitive nerds who fall in love are major catnip for me.
Birdie: Me too! Sexy nerds are the best, and I admit to a pretty big crush on Sam myself.
While you were writing the Heroine Complex trilogy, did everything pan out how you imagined when you started writing? Or were there any surprises or changes the characters forced on you after they were brought to life?
Sarah Kuhn: Definitely. Actually, Scott was a major one—in the original draft of Complex, he was Evie’s ex-boyfriend, and just kind of a doof. Like, he served a function in that he provided the glamours and other magic stuff, but he didn’t really do anything and he didn’t have much of a personality. I think I was trying to do a triangle thing with him and Evie and Nate, but it was just so obvious to me Evie was supposed to be with Nate, I felt like I couldn’t write that convincingly. So I almost cut him! My writing group actually advocated on his behalf and convinced me not to—and then finally it clicked into place when I realized of course he and Annie were in love and he’s one of Evie’s best friends and really like family to her and Bea…and then he finally got a personality.
Birdie: I am so glad your writing group had our backs here, because the series wouldn’t have been the same without him!
The Heroic Trio plays a large part in this trilogy, obviously, with it being about a very heroic trio. What did this movie mean to you prior to writing Heroine Complex?
Sarah Kuhn: It was one of the first times I remember seeing Asian women take center stage as superheroes and protagonists. I don’t think I realized that was possible until I saw it. And even then, it took me forever to internalize it and realize that I could also write it.
Birdie: If you lived in the Heroine Complex universe, and you were granted a superpower that was instrumental to you but useless for anyone else, what would it be?
Sarah Kuhn: The power to know exactly where everything is in my closet at all times. (My closet pretty much always looks like it’s throwing up clothes. And I have a lot of clothes.)
Birdie: I read in a previous interview that Evie is Gryffinpuff , Annie is Slytherin… would you say Bea is Ravenclaw? What house do you identify with and why?
Sarah Kuhn: You know, I think now I would say Evie is a straight-up Hufflepuff, maybe with an occasional Gryff tendency. Bea is definitely a Slytherin. I’m also a Slytherin—I thought I was a Ravenclaw forever and then I took the Pottermore test and it put me in Slytherin. But suddenly everything made way more sense. It showed me my true self.
Birdie: My husband thought he was Slytherin and took the Pottermore test and discovered he’s Ravenclaw! You two switched places, but why question it. The sorting hat is omniscient. 🙂
Finally, what’s next for you now that Heroine Complex is reaching its conclusion?
Sarah Kuhn: I just signed on to write three more Heroine books and a novella! The novella will be out next year and is all about Lucy, the team’s trainer/weapons expert. She’s always a delight to write and her story is probably the thing I get asked for the most—so that will be fun. There will definitely be a lot of karaoke involved. And then the next three full-length books will follow Evie, Annie, and Bea again—so you will get to see Scott back in the spotlight in Book 5! I also wrote a YA contemporary rom-com, I Love You So Mochi, that will be out next year—it’s about a Japanese American fashionista who goes to Japan on a quest of self-discovery and falls for a cute med student who’s also a costumed mochi mascot. And I co-wrote another Clueless comic with my friend Amber Benson and art by the awesome Siobhan Keenan—that will be out later this year! Summer vacation hijinks aplenty.
Birdie: Thank you so much for joining us today! I had a great time thinking up questions. Almost as much fun as I had reading your books!
Sarah Kuhn: Thank you so much!
I usually post my review first, for readers who want to avoid spoilers, but I just couldn’t! I have to squee over that interview, because OH MY GOSH!! There’s going to be MORE in the Heroine world! It’s the absolute best news when you’re surprised when a beloved series gets more installments! I don’t have to say goodbye to Evie, Annie and Bea. (Or SCOTT, as Ms Kuhn pointed out!) There was so much goodness in this interview, but that big news is definitely my favorite! (Also, me and Evie are Hogwarts house sisters!)
Don’t get me wrong, I went into my read of Heroine’s Journey fully expecting it was the final book in the series. The idea it was the end was my mindset was when I read, and going into it thinking it was over really made me look at it harder. Even looking extra critically, I still thought it was the strongest book in the series, and my favorite. I wasn’t sure what to expect, jumping into Bea’s head, when throughout the first two books she was so angry all the time. Although, I also kind of trusted it because Annie was so awful in book one, yet I loved her so much in book two. Sarah Kuhn is great at redeeming characters, which is exactly what she did with Bea (at least for this reader).
I’ll even go so far as to say, Bea is my favorite POV so far. I loved how impulsive she can be, and I love how she doesn’t hold anything in and get all angsty, which is how one would expect her to act. She doesn’t. If she’s pissed, she tells you (in a very long winded way) just what you did wrong. She was refreshing. She’s what drove my love for her close friendships with Leah and Sam, because that was a solid friendship all the way ’round.
And speaking of Sam! Talk about Hot Nerd! I mean, Scott is my love, but I sure wouldn’t turn my nose up at Sam. I adored how sweet and gentle he was while Bea was spazzing out. He’s a darling and I loved him and his charming smoldering self!
Basically, I loved Heroine’s Journey! And again, it’s not over! I get more Bea, more Sam, and more Scott! I’m still sitting over here doing a happy dance. Maybe you guys reading this can catch up and we can all enjoy the next three together! It is so worth it!
Thank you to DAW, and Sarah Kuhn, for providing an ARC in exchange for my honest review.
Series Reading Order:
Great interview, Birdie. I’m glad you’ll be getting more of the series you love!
Thank you, and ME TOO! I hope they’re as entertaining as the first three.
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