Giveaways Inspirations and Influences

Guest Author (& Giveaway): Susan Jane Bigelow on Inspirations & Influences

Inspirations and Influences” is a series of articles in which we invite authors to write guest posts talking about their…well, Inspirations and Influences. The cool thing is that the writers are given free rein so they can go wild and write about anything they want: their new book, series or career as a whole.

It is with the utmost delight that we invited Susan Jane Bigelow back to the blog – as Ana is a SUPERFAN of her Extrahuman Series – to celebrate the release of The Spark, the EXCELLENT third book in the series, with a post on her inspirations and influences.

Please give up for Susan!

It feels like this book, and the Extrahumans series as a whole, comes from a million different places.

I had a ritual, back when I was in college. There’s a fantastic comic book store called Sarge’s in downtown New London, Connecticut, and every Wednesday I’d walk down there to pick up the latest and greatest. I’d stick them in my backpack and head across town to McDonald’s, where I could read Yukito Kushiro’s Battle Angel Alita, Sam Kieth’s The Maxx, Kurt Busiek’s Astro City, Peter David’s Supergirl and whatever comic book featuring Batman or his Bat-Friends happened to be out that week, all while chewing down on greasy McNuggets and fries. It was a good, satisfying, and stabilizing ritual, and it’s where I cemented both my love of comic book heroes and that brand of storytelling. This, I thought while re-reading Neil Gaiman’s Sandman for the ten-thousandth time, is the perfect way to tell a story. So much of the way I tell stories, and the kinds of stories I like to tell, can be traced back to those titles. There’s a little something of Alita (Gally in the Japanese version) in both Dee and Penny, for instance.

I also draw a lot of inspiration from authors who know how to write a great SF/Fantasy adventure story and populate it with incredibly memorable characters, like Tanya Huff or Lois McMaster Bujold. I also can’t get enough of compelling, deep, and well-drawn worlds, like those of Robin McKinley’s The Blue Sword or Jacqueline Carey’s Kushiel’s Dart. I stand in constant awe of what all of these authors are able to do.

There’s also a lot of real-world inspiration for this specific book. When I finished the first draft of Fly Into Fire in late 2008, I knew I wanted to write a book about Dee next. I even wrote a scene where she sneaks out of Penny and Sky Ranger’s house and runs away to a wildlife preserve. But once I got her there, I found that I had no idea what to do next. It wasn’t just writer’s block, either; life got in the way, as it will. I went through transitions of many kinds between the writing of that first scene and the moment in early 2011 when I managed to pick it up again. At that point, my first book had finally been published, and my life had begun to stabilize again. I had a lot of confidence, and a lot of energy for writing. But, perhaps more importantly, the Arab Spring was underway halfway around the world. Hundreds of thousands of people gathered in squares to demand their rights, and the part of me that adds everything I see to the worlds I create wondered, “What if that happened in the Confederation?” And then, in the next instant, I wondered what would happen if Dee were in the middle of it. The story began to take shape.

This book turned out to be the biggest and most ambitious writing project I’ve tried to do yet. I probably wouldn’t have made it through if I didn’t have what I call my pace-book, a somewhat lighter adventure set in a different universe, to fall back on when things got especially tough with this one. I also owe a debt to the fantastic PJ Harvey, whose incredible album Let England Shake was my soundtrack throughout.

It’s been incredible to write this series. I love this world, which I’ve been building in one way or another since I was a teenager, and I love these characters. I’ve been working on other projects set in other worlds lately, but I doubt I’ll be able to stay away from it forever.

Thank you so much to the Book Smugglers for having me, and to all you wonderful readers out there!

The Spark, the third book in Susan Jane Bigelow‘s Extrahumans series (after Broken and Fly Into Fire) is now available in both digital and paperback form, wherever books are sold! And remember, if you purchase directly from Candlemark & Gleam at, you get the digital version free – and DRM-free! – with the purchase of a paperback.


We have 3 bundles (one paperback, two digital) of Broken, Fly Into Fire and The Spark to giveaway! The contest is open to addresses in the US only for the paperbacks and to ALL, ANYWHERE for the digital copies, and will run until Saturday September 8 at 12:01am EST. In order to enter, use the form below. Good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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  • Alyssa Susanna
    August 29, 2012 at 3:48 am

    Aw it must be exciting and a little heartbreaking for your series to be fininshed. Now you gotta start something new!

    The Avengers! Love it! Go Thor! 😀
    I’m in the US.


  • Courtney Dee
    August 29, 2012 at 4:16 am

    Big fan of all the Candlemark & Gleam selections, and I’m thrilled to see this series getting such positive reviews. 🙂

    My fave superheroes are the teens of the Generation X comics. They got me into comics (with a bad TV movie but still). I’m in the US.

  • Sarai
    August 29, 2012 at 4:23 am

    Favorite superhero book is old school Captain America Comics LOVED them as a kid still find myself going back to read them 😉
    I’m in the US

  • Anonymous
    August 29, 2012 at 5:53 am

    Also a huge fan of the Avengers.From the U.S.So excited to start this series.

  • Suz Glo
    August 29, 2012 at 6:06 am

    This is a “new to me” series and I love that I am discovering it when all the books are available! My favorite superhero has got to be Tony Stark/Iron Man. (I am in the US).

  • Tina
    August 29, 2012 at 6:18 am

    I love the Avengers movies. I especially liked the last one because we got to see the superheroes bantering and interacting with each other.
    (I’m in the US)

  • Anna
    August 29, 2012 at 7:04 am

    This looks like a wonderful series (and ooh, rebellion)!
    I love the Sandman comics, and I’m in the US. Thanks for doing the giveaway!

  • Ellie
    August 29, 2012 at 7:12 am

    My favorite superhero movie is definitely The Dark Knight. I’m in the US.

  • erinf1
    August 29, 2012 at 7:27 am

    Thanks for a fun post and congrats on the series! This is the first I’ve heard of it and it sounds fabulous 🙂 I loved the Marvel Comic book movies. Thor, Captain America, Iron Man, The Avengers. I was meh on the X-Men (athough the latest one was good) and not even Ryan Reynolds could save the Green lantern. Thanks for the giveaway! I’m USA 🙂

  • Missie
    August 29, 2012 at 7:29 am

    Like everybody else, I loved the Avengers, but my favorite superheroes have to be the Misfits (at least the first two seasons).

  • Missie
    August 29, 2012 at 7:30 am

    Oh, and I’m in the US.

  • Tori
    August 29, 2012 at 7:30 am

    My favorite superhero movies are definitely the Dark Knight franchise! Christopher Nolan is a film genius. As far as books go, I love the Ultimate X-men comics… 😀

  • Meredith G
    August 29, 2012 at 7:33 am

    I love the Nolan Batman trilogy.
    I’m in the U.S.

  • Tami
    August 29, 2012 at 7:34 am

    I still adore the X-men. What can I say? I’m old school. =]

  • Seema
    August 29, 2012 at 7:41 am

    For me it has to be the Avengers, the movie was just pure awesome. I live in the US. Thanks for hosting this giveaway 🙂

  • Rebecca I.
    August 29, 2012 at 7:59 am

    What a great giveaway! I’m in the US and my favorite is Nolan’s Batman trilogy!

  • Patti
    August 29, 2012 at 8:06 am

    Another Extrahumans contest! Yay! Can’t wait to read the new book.

    So many favorite superheroes to choose from. I really love the new Buffy the Vampire Slayer comics. The latest Spike issue is awesome.

    I’m in the US.

  • Gerd D.
    August 29, 2012 at 8:10 am

    Favourite Superhero-Movie, hmm, there are some I do like.
    Would “The Incredibles” count?
    Because I never tire of watching that one; else I’d say “Fantastic Four,” I found the first one vastly entertaining.

    Hailing from good old Germany.

  • Franki
    August 29, 2012 at 8:15 am

    The X-Men, for sure. Such wonderful angst. 🙂

    I’m in Canada.

  • Michael B
    August 29, 2012 at 8:41 am

    Awesome giveaway! My fave Superhero book is Seven Wonders by Adam Christopher, it just came out but it’s soo good and unique!

  • mary anne
    August 29, 2012 at 8:44 am

    Superman is so geeky, and bland. Not very edgy. So why do I get so excited every time I see something new Superman coming out? My kids laugh at me, but there it is. So many cooler superheroes, and I get stuck on Superman, in all his reincarnations. Actually, I think it’s more Clark Kent than Superman, but still…

    I live in the USA.

  • THE SPARK Review Roundup and Contest « The Extrahuman Union
    August 29, 2012 at 9:00 am

    […] there is a great contest going on over at The Book Smugglers: you could win the entire series! Go check it […]

  • draconismoi
    August 29, 2012 at 9:13 am

    My favorite superhero book is Santa Olivia by Jacqueline Carey. Favorite superhero universe is definitely the X-men. Loved the comics, cartoons, and movies.

    I live in the US and have had this on my wishlist for-freaking-ever.


  • Teresa N
    August 29, 2012 at 10:57 am

    I really loved the first X-men movie, but Christopher Nolan’s whole Batman trilogy is great watching.
    I picked up the first book, Broken, during the free promotion and this just reminded me to bump it higher on my TBA list 🙂

  • Andrea
    August 29, 2012 at 11:48 am

    My favorite superheros are the ones who are really just average joes, nothing magical or radioactive happens to them to make them extraordinary, they just have talents and skills and put them to great use. We’re talking about Batman and Iron Man for the most part. But I love the others, too! Especially X-Men.

    I’m in the US.

  • Christine
    August 29, 2012 at 11:51 am

    The Runaways, for sure. Brian K. Vaughn is BRILLIANT. I live in Florida, USA! 🙂

  • Emma
    August 29, 2012 at 12:27 pm

    Favourite superhero book is Batman: Hush. I am in Canada 🙂

  • Michelle
    August 29, 2012 at 12:31 pm

    Raven/Mystique from the X-Men. I’ve never read the comics, but I love her in the movies; she has such a great character arc. I’m in the US.

  • Mitch
    August 29, 2012 at 12:38 pm

    I’d go with The Avengers, a boring pick but it was fantastic.

  • Theresa
    August 29, 2012 at 12:38 pm

    My favorite superhero movie is The Incredibles – it’s such a brilliant mix of superhero mythos with James Bond – -and I loooove the visual design!

    I’m in California.

  • Sakura
    August 29, 2012 at 12:46 pm

    I’m a huge fan of the Japanese manga Bleach which features soul reapers with lots of different powers in a soul society based on feudal Japan. A really interesting concept.

  • Caitlin
    August 29, 2012 at 12:51 pm

    The old x-men cartoon. My brothers and I watched it religiously. I’m in North Carolina.

  • Flash
    August 29, 2012 at 12:53 pm

    I am a huge fan of Watchmen–both the graphic novels and the movie, as well as X-Men

    X-Men is awesome.

    Also, I’m in the US(:

  • Vildea
    August 29, 2012 at 1:04 pm

    I’m not the biggest movie goer out there, so I’m… a little stunted on the movie front I guess 😛 I did watch The Avengers and I loved that one, I also adored the first X-Men movie… Oh! But my favorite is probably The Crow because that’s the one that introduced me to the rest really 🙂

    I live elsewhere, or Norway as it’s more commonly known as all places that are not American, Chinese or Russian are obviously Norwegian instead 😛

  • Hannah H.
    August 29, 2012 at 4:27 pm

    I love superhero books, movies, comics… you name it. They’re one of the few things I enjoy unreservedly, almost regardless of quality (Proof- I’ve watched FF- Rise of the Silver Surfer at least seven times. Yes, I’m ashamed). So this question is really hard. Um… I’m going to cheat. Fav superhero movie- the Avengers, of course. Fav superhero book- a tie between Perry Moore’s Hero and Mur Laffady’s Playing for Keeps. I did mention the cheating, yes? And my favorite comic book superhero group has to be Watchmen. (Although that’s only because I cannot find it in me to classify the Sandman as a superhero story, no matter how much I love it.)

  • Hannah H.
    August 29, 2012 at 4:28 pm

    Oh, sorry- I’m in Washington

  • Michelle k
    August 29, 2012 at 4:34 pm

    I’m in the us. I think Ironman is my favorite hero, because he doesn’t want to be a hero

  • Jodie
    August 29, 2012 at 5:17 pm

    1/2 way through Fly Into Fire. Loving it! Can’t put it down!

    Really enjoyed reading The Watchmen.

    From I’m from the U.S.

  • Victoria Zumbrum
    August 29, 2012 at 5:45 pm

    I would love to read this series. Please enter me for paperback copies.

  • Victoria Zumbrum
    August 29, 2012 at 5:47 pm

    USA. I love Thor

  • Megan
    August 29, 2012 at 6:28 pm

    Batman Begins.
    From the US.

  • Lily
    August 29, 2012 at 6:30 pm

    I like Thor! =D

    I’m from the United States.

  • Hayley
    August 29, 2012 at 6:32 pm

    um, I’d have to say I like the Avengers, cause that was so good.

    I am from the USA.

  • Bee
    August 29, 2012 at 6:44 pm

    I’m not much for traditional superhero stuff, I never read comic books or anything, but I do love The Avengers and all the movies tied to them, and I will always have a soft spot in my heart for Sky High. Though I honestly couldn’t tell you why… I’m in the US.

  • Kelley
    August 29, 2012 at 6:48 pm

    The Dark Knight. Every time I watch it I’m blown away by its awesomeness.

    I’m in the US.

  • Michele M
    August 29, 2012 at 7:06 pm

    i love iron man. based in canada

  • MarieC
    August 29, 2012 at 7:17 pm

    I’m a big Silver Surfer fan (marvel comics fan, really). But in terms of books, the crossover books of Marvel vs. DC are great. I also loved the books ‘The Rise of Renegade X” and ‘Ex-Heroes’. In the US.

  • Jen B.
    August 29, 2012 at 7:19 pm

    I loved The Avengers movie this summer. It made me love The Hulk again. But my heart still belongs to Ironman. **le sigh** But I think my favorite ever superhero is Doctor Who. I know most people don’t consider him a superhero but he is always saving the day. To me that’s the definition of superhero!

  • raych
    August 29, 2012 at 7:21 pm

    I have a tiny crush on Jeremy Renner (only tiny because he, himself, is tiny) so I am like, Hawkeye. Mmmmhmm.

    I am in effing Canada.

  • Scarlett
    August 29, 2012 at 8:03 pm

    Thanks so much for hosting this giveaway and for introducing me to this series! I’d have to say that The Avengers pretty much tops the list (so much eye candy and awesome action) but the Incredibles was so creative and a true joy to watch. Based in the US ^__^

  • britney
    August 29, 2012 at 8:09 pm

    Oh I liked Supreme, I really like meta so it was right up my alley. I am in the US

  • Giuliana
    August 29, 2012 at 8:50 pm

    A famous one is ok? Tony Stark. Love him since I was a little girl, I loooove comics. From Brazil here. o/

  • Stephanie
    August 29, 2012 at 8:56 pm

    My favorite superhero movie is X-men.

  • Gabi
    August 29, 2012 at 9:00 pm

    Robin! Robin is my all-time favorite super hero. (Okay, fine, he’s actually a sidekick.) I love him in the 1966 Batman the Movie. You know, the cheesy costumes and ridiculous plot? I hate how they’ve left Robin out of the new Batman movies. Boo.

    I’m in the USA.

  • vanillaabsolute
    August 29, 2012 at 11:01 pm

    My favourite superhero movie is Avengers. Though X-Men: First Class is close behind it. (elsewhere)

  • Mervi
    August 30, 2012 at 12:40 am

    Currently, my favorite superhero movie is the Avengers. I saw it four times! I’m elsewhere.
    I’ve been thrilled to see that original superhero books are published more and more these days.

  • Summer
    August 30, 2012 at 12:53 am

    Velma “Velveteen” Martinez by Seanan McGuire. Because Iwill read anything McGuire writes and Velma is awesome

  • Malika
    August 30, 2012 at 2:01 am

    My favorite superhero movie has got to be green hornet, but only because one of my favorite C-Pop singers is in it. 🙂
    My favorite superhero is Batman!
    Based in Minnesota, USA

  • Meagan
    August 30, 2012 at 6:18 am

    I have to say my favorite superhero is Catwoman. She is just awesome! (She counts, right?) If she doesn’t count, then I liked Elektra (she has SAIS!!).

    I am based in the United States 🙂

  • Kat
    August 30, 2012 at 6:51 am

    Favorite superhero comic/film: Batman. I love his dual nature and the way he struggles to balance his dark and light sides. Based in the US

  • Britta B.
    August 30, 2012 at 7:19 am

    The Incredibles is a favorite movie of mine; while I am not a superhero genre fan, I like them when the are trying to be “normal” but eventually embrace their “different-ness”. Located in NY.

  • Jenni
    August 30, 2012 at 9:36 am

    My favourite superhero movie is X men first class (though January Jones as Emma Frost was excruciating) and I am based elsewhere 🙂

  • SueCCCP
    August 30, 2012 at 10:27 am

    I think my fave superhero is Tony Stark, because he is so sarcastic and funny.

    I am in the US.

  • Brigh
    August 30, 2012 at 12:26 pm

    Currently, the Avengers (which seems kind of boring to say, but I’ve just started reading/watching superhero stuff…)

    I’m based in the US.

  • Lesley
    August 30, 2012 at 12:56 pm

    Huh. The form wouldn’t let me answer the question there. I hope this works, because these books sound like just my thing.

    I’ve loved a lot of comics, and a lot of comic-book movies, but without question my favorite “book based on superheroes” would be Perry Moore’s HERO. The lovely portrayal of father-son dynamics is even more moving to me as my son enters his teenage years, and the romance is adorably sweet.

  • Lisa
    August 30, 2012 at 1:12 pm

    The form did not let me type an answer to the question, so I’ll write it here: Currently my favorite superhero is Spiderman from the Tobey Maguire movies. Wish I could swing through city streets above all the traffic like he can — would shorten my commute considerably! lol! I’m based in Los Angeles, California, USA.

  • RED
    August 30, 2012 at 1:48 pm

    As with Lisa above, the form wouldn’t let me answer. So here goes:
    I recently read all the “Runaways” comics, and loved them. Quite Buffy-like, in tone and cast of characters.
    And, as with everyone else, I found The Avengers to be totally awesome.

  • RED
    August 30, 2012 at 1:49 pm

    I forgot to mention where I’m based… I live in Canada, but I have a US address I can use. Does that mean I can enter both?

  • Rachael L
    August 30, 2012 at 2:11 pm

    Batman and Captain America are my favorite superheros. I live in the U.S. Thank you for the giveaway!

  • Lesley
    August 30, 2012 at 2:34 pm

    Oops, forgot to add, based in the US.

  • Summer
    August 30, 2012 at 4:48 pm

    oh, and I am in New Zealand

  • sarac
    August 30, 2012 at 5:25 pm

    Fave superhero is Buffy. (from the US)

  • scribe k.
    August 30, 2012 at 8:17 pm

    i’m in the US and I’m not sure I’ve read any superhero novels (i know, i know) but I think this series would be a great place to start!!

  • Nikki Egerton
    August 31, 2012 at 6:14 am

    I love superheroes! I’ve been so spoilt this summer with the Avengers and The Dark Knight Rises movies. I’d be quicker to name superheroes I don’t like, for instance I hate Spiderman (he’s too whiny for me)
    I’m international (UK)

  • Sameara
    August 31, 2012 at 7:31 am

    My favourite superhero must be Sam Temple from the Gone sextet!! I just adore him.
    I’m from London so I would love the digital copies + I haven’t read these before!!

  • Sameara
    August 31, 2012 at 7:41 am

    Or Eragon from the Inheritance series…I can’t choose haha.. 😀

  • gita
    August 31, 2012 at 7:46 am

    constantine (2005) starring keanu reeves based on the graphic novels of the same name.

  • gita
    August 31, 2012 at 7:48 am

    oops, my previous comment probably doesn’t count, as it is, strictly speaking not a movie with a superhero character.

    so, i’ll name another one:
    kick-ass (2008) starring aaron johnson, chloe moretz

  • Sameara
    August 31, 2012 at 8:40 am

    I was reading the other comments and noticed that everyone chose well known ones. My ones (Sam or Eragon) are probably warriors instead of superheros…so hmm, Spiderman..? Haha, sorry!

  • LisaC
    August 31, 2012 at 10:28 am

    Spider-Man 2 with Doc Ock was fun. I also liked the Incredibles. (U.S.)

  • Amanda Allen
    August 31, 2012 at 10:34 am


  • Emily Thompson
    September 1, 2012 at 7:58 pm

    The Rise of Renegade X by Chelsea M. Campbell (which I think I came by from reading Book Smugglers!) was a really good superhero book, as was Hero by Perry More.

  • Laurie C
    September 2, 2012 at 7:56 am

    The Runaways by Brian K. Vaughan is my favorite! (USA)

  • Jasmine Stairs
    September 2, 2012 at 9:15 am

    Im based in Canada, with a mailing address in the states. And my favorite superhero book is always and forever Rise Of Renegade X, by Chelsea Campbell.

  • Jessica Tan
    September 3, 2012 at 7:19 am

    My favorite would be Batman! He’s not really gifted with superpowers but he uses technology and his smarts for the good of the world. He’s a normal everyday man and I think this is very inspiring. I’m from Singapore.

  • Abby
    September 4, 2012 at 6:18 am

    Green Lantern was always my favorite. U.S.A.

  • Brenda C
    September 4, 2012 at 9:14 am

    I loved the X-Men: First Class movie!

  • bn100
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  • Kaitlin
    September 5, 2012 at 10:39 am

    Who doesn’t love Iron Man?

    I’m in the US

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