Unmasking the Story Behind Hope Bolinger and Alyssa Roat’s “Dear Henchman”

Hope Bolinger is on the blog today talking about her and co-author Alyssa Roat’s upcoming release Dear Henchman, YA superhero chat-fiction romance.

Welcome, Hope! Before we delve behind the scenes, tell us about Dear Henchman.

Henchmen and sidekicks aren’t supposed to fall in love. Or save the world. They’re supposed to brew coffee, take pics of their hero/villain for social media, and stay in the background.

That was sidekick-slash-frat boy Kevin and henchwoman-slash-tech genius Himari’s plan, until a taxidermy-collecting villain robs Kevin’s hero of his powers and leaves Himari’s villain wounded. Now it’s up to the sidekicks and henchies to save the world.

Without powers, they’ll go up against the Shadow Assassins (a deadly organization that can’t work a PowerPoint to save their lives), road trips-slash-kidnappings, and strange initiation rituals that may or may not involve singing campfire songs.

Himari and Kevin will battle the odds, their insecurities, and their weird affinity for Mexican food as they discover if they have just what it takes to save the world from a nuclear disaster.

It’s great to see sidekicks taking the lead. What inspired you and Alyssa?

Alyssa and I one summer decided what would happen if there was a nemesis pairing app that would match heroes and villains for fighting potential. That was for our first story Dear Hero. For Henchman, we wanted to see the sidekicks and henchfolks in action, defeating a nuclear threat.

Chat-fiction is a fairly new storytelling style. What sort of research went into crafting this story?

A lot of the research was on epistolaries themselves (think Illuminae Files). This is becoming a booming genre in YA, so we really wanted to get the tone and voice right. And, of course, watching plenty of superhero movies.

What’s the most interesting discovery you made writing Dear Henchman?

So we have a hilarious villain in this who collects taxidermy and sings campfire songs. He really wasn’t supposed to be this crazy, but he decided he wanted to be a bigger personality than we anticipated. We had to completely change the outline because of him.

A villain who sings campfire songs—he sounds like a fun character. With so much creativity in one story, are there any hidden references readers should keep an eye out for?

So many! We often poke fun at our college town where we met (we pursued the same major in college). But we do have lots of inside jokes that friends and writing mentors will definitely catch.

Before you go, are there any other behind-the-scenes tidbits that would be of interest to readers?

I have a background as a playwright, so this came really naturally to me. Because there are story apps like HOOKED out there, teen readers definitely have an interest in text-message stories. I love that YA has ventured into new territories in terms of formatting and presenting stories.

Yes, it’s wonderful to see all the creative new paths stories are taking. Thanks so much for stopping by, Hope! I’ve enjoyed chatting with you and learning more about Dear Henchman.

Dear Henchman officially releases May 4th. But the ebook is available now on Amazon.

About Hope Bolinger

Hope Bolinger is an editor at Crosswalk.com, literary agent at C.Y.L.E., and a graduate of Taylor University’s professional writing program. More than 1,000 of her works have been featured in various publications ranging from Writer’s Digest to Keys for Kids. She has worked for various publishing companies, magazines, newspapers, and literary agencies and has edited the work of authors such as Jerry B. Jenkins and Michelle Medlock Adams. Her modern-day Daniel trilogy released its first two installments with IlluminateYA, and the final one, Vision, releases in August of 2021. She is also the co-author of the Dear Hero duology, which was published by INtense Publications. And her inspirational adult romance Picture Imperfect releases in October of 2021.

Find out more about her at her website. Or connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or Pinterest.

About Alyssa Roat

Alyssa Roat has worked in a wide variety of roles within the publishing industry as an agent, editor, writer, and marketer. She is the publicity manager at Mountain Brook Ink, an associate literary agent at Cyle Young Literary Elite, an editor with Sherpa Editing Services, and a freelance writer with 200+ bylines in local, national, and international publications. Alyssa is the co-author with Hope Bolinger of the YA superhero chat fiction romance Dear Hero and the sequel, Dear Henchman. Her solo debut, the YA contemporary fantasy Wraithwood, releases July 2021. Her name is a pun, which means you can learn more about her at alyssawrote.com or on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook as @alyssawrote.

*** View past interviews here. ***

Thanks to Unleashing Readers and Teach Mentor Text for hosting #IMWAYR. Check out the other It’s Monday! What Are You Reading posts!

Keagan’s Review: A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle

A Wrinkle in Time
by Madeleine L’Engle is a middle-grade novel with a blend of science fiction and fantasy. It was published in early 1962 after being rejected in previous years.

The story follows a girl named Meg as she tries to find her father. Meg’s little brother, Charles Wallace, and her new friend Calvin O’Keefe accompany her on her adventure as she follows three old women: Mrs. Whatsit, Mrs. Who, and Mrs. Which. The story provides interesting concepts such as tessering—to move from one place to another in a very short amount of time—and the ability to make walls disappear by rearranging the atoms. A tangible form of darkness also adds to the intrigue and suspense.

Meg is seen as an oddball at her school. Her father is missing and word is going around that he left Meg’s mother to run off with another woman. Meg doesn’t believe it. She believes he will come back. Then, Meg’s little brother, Charles Wallace, introduces Meg and their mother to Mrs. Whatsit when Mrs. Whatsit stops by their house in the middle of night. Mrs. Whatsit mentions something called a tesseract. This upsets their mother, but intrigues Meg. The next day, Charles leads Meg to the house where Mrs. Whatsit lives with her two friends, Mrs. Who and Mrs. Which. On the way, they run into Calvin O’Keefe, a popular boy from school, and he joins them. Later that night, Meg, Charles, and Calvin are thrust into an adventure across the universe by Mrs. Whatsit, Mrs. Who, and Mrs. Which. They go to distant planets to find Meg and Charles’s father, who will be lost to a tangible form of evil called IT if they don’t succeed.

A Wrinkle in Time is a beautifully crafted book. The story is imaginative and unique with elements based on theoretical science concepts. The way evil is shown reflects what events occurred during the time the book was written and published. I recommend this book to anyone that is fascinated with the thought of alternate universes and fantasy.

A Wrinkle in Time is available on Amazon.

About A Wrinkle in Time

This is Book 1 of the Time Quintet Series

It was a dark and stormy night; Meg Murry, her small brother Charles Wallace, and her mother had come down to the kitchen for a midnight snack when they were upset by the arrival of a most disturbing stranger.

“Wild nights are my glory,” the unearthly stranger told them. “I just got caught in a downdraft and blown off course. Let me sit down for a moment, and then I’ll be on my way. Speaking of ways, by the way, there is such a thing as a tesseract.”

A tesseract (in case the reader doesn’t know) is a wrinkle in time. To tell more would rob the reader of the enjoyment of Miss L’Engle’s unusual book. A Wrinkle in Time, winner of the Newbery Medal in 1963, is the story of the adventures in space and time of Meg, Charles Wallace, and Calvin O’Keefe (athlete, student, and one of the most popular boys in high school). They are in search of Meg’s father, a scientist who disappeared while engaged in secret work for the government on the tesseract problem.

A Wrinkle in Time is the winner of the 1963 Newbery Medal.

About Madeleine L’Engle

Madeleine L’Engle (1918-2007) was the Newbery Medal-winning author of more than 60 books, including the much-loved A Wrinkle in Time. Born in 1918, L’Engle grew up in New York City, Switzerland, South Carolina and Massachusetts. Her father was a reporter and her mother had studied to be a pianist, and their house was always full of musicians and theater people. L’Engle graduated cum laude from Smith College, then returned to New York to work in the theater. While touring with a play, she wrote her first book, The Small Rain, originally published in 1945. She met her future husband, Hugh Franklin, when they both appeared in The Cherry Orchard. Upon becoming Mrs. Franklin, L’Engle gave up the stage in favor of the typewriter. In the years her three children were growing up, she wrote four more novels. Hugh Franklin temporarily retired from the theater, and the family moved to western Connecticut and for ten years ran a general store. Her book Meet the Austins, an American Library Association Notable Children’s Book of 1960, was based on this experience. Her science fantasy classic A Wrinkle in Time was awarded the 1963 Newbery Medal. Two companion novels, A Wind in the Door and A Swiftly Tilting Planet (a Newbery Honor book), complete what has come to be known as The Time Trilogy, a series that continues to grow in popularity with a new generation of readers. Her 1980 book A Ring of Endless Light won the Newbery Honor. L’Engle passed away in 2007 in Litchfield, Connecticut.

Thanks to Greg Pattridge for hosting MMGM! Be sure to check out the other Marvelous Middle Grade Monday posts!

Story Research: Tree Rings and Daughter Universes

Every day, we decide on a course of action. Get out of bed. Take a shower. Go to work. Or maybe not.

Some decisions we may even wonder if we made the right choice. Especially when those decisions change our life or the life of someone we love.

But have you ever wondered if there is a version of yourself in a parallel world who made a different choice?

This is the essence of Hugh Everett’s Daughter Universes Theory. He proposed that every situation with multiple outcomes creates a copy of the universe where the other outcomes play out. Imagine spacetime as a tree branching into an alternate dimensions.

My story worlds are based on Hugh Everett’s theory, and I wondered, imagining spacetime as an endless tree, could remnants of the past surround us like the rings on a tree?

I’ve been exploring this question while writing the second book in my middle grade series, Snow Globe Travelers: Salvaged Time. It has led me to create a few tech devices for the story. (If you’re interested, I’ve pinned a handful of articles from my research on the Salvaged Time Pinterest board.)

What do you think—do remnants of the past surround us like the rings on a tree? If we created a device to view these remnants of time, what would they tell us?

Keagan’s Review of “Still Small Voice” by Allen Brokken

This is a book review written by my son. It has been published with his permission.

Still Small Voice is a middle-grade Christian fantasy novel by Allen Brokken. The story includes many unique elements, such as sacred animals with special gifts and physical forms of good and evil.

Lauren, Aiden, and Ethan are tasked with lighting the Towers of Light and freeing their parents from the Darkness. They try to convince their uncle to take them to Blooming Glen so they can light the Tower of Light. However, their uncle wants to take them to their grandmother’s house and unknowingly leads them off their path. Their enemies prepare traps for them along the way and almost succeed in capturing them.

I enjoyed Still Small Voice. The story is told from multiple points of view, which gave me a better picture of what was going on. There was always something interesting happening. The story did end on a bit of a cliffhangercliff hanger, but that made me want to read more.

I recommend Still Small Voice to anyone who enjoys reading fantasy adventure novels with faith-based messages.

Still Small Voice is available on Amazon.

About Still Small Voice

As defenders of the light, Lauren, Aiden and Ethan take up the Armor of God and embark on a journey to stop the dark forces invading their land.

Because of their faith, twelve-year-old Lauren and her younger brothers, Aiden and Ethan, prevailed in the battle for the Tower of Light. But their victory did not stop the Dark One. Darkness continues to spread across Zoura’s frontier.

Now, in a vision, Mother tells them to light a second tower in Blooming Glen. Before they can set out on their journey with the Knight Protector, their Uncle arrives with a different set of instructions. He doesn’t trust the Knight Protector or the Mighty Mercenaries and believes the children should go to grandma’s house instead.

Unyielding in his belief, Uncle unknowingly leads the children off their path. And a misguided acolyte follows them. Lurking in the shadows, he strikes at every opportunity as the dark forces prepare to descend.

Lauren, Aiden, and Ethan are Zoura’s last defense. Can they convince their Uncle of the truth—that he must listen to the still small voice—and make it to Blooming Glen before the Dark One’s forces overtake them?

Fans of Little House on the Prairie will feel at home in the series’ classic frontier setting, and the sincerity of the children’s love for one another and desire to do the right thing will bring a smile to readers and listeners of all ages.

About Allen Brokken

Allen Brokken is a teacher at heart, a husband and father most of all. He’s a joyful writer by the abundant grace of God. Follow his endeavors @towersoflight, @twodadsandajoke, and http://www.brokken.net. Your children can grow their own faith and love of God by following the adventures of Lauren, Aiden, and Ethan (plus their pets!) at instagram.com/towersoflight.

Thanks to Greg Pattridge for hosting MMGM! Be sure to check out the other Marvelous Middle Grade Monday posts!