‘Colin Fischer’ is a modern-day Sherlock Holmes story, focusing on a 14-year-old who cannot stand being touched, detests the color blue and needs index cards to recognize simple facial expressions. On the first day of high school, Colin becomes involved in a mystery that only he can solve.
It’s a inspiring book, filled with mystery, humor and really great trivia. ‘Colin Fischer’ is from the writers of X-Men: First Class and Thor, but the book isn’t about superheroes. Instead, the book is about the emotional experience of high school, seen through the eyes of a particularly interesting young man.
We recently spoke with ‘Colin Fischer’ authors Ashley Edward Miller and Zack Stentz about their new book.
Can you explain the premise of “Colin Fischer.”
Ashley: “Colin Fischer” is about a boy (who just happens to be high-functioning Asperger’s) on his first day of high school. During lunch, a gun goes off in the cafeteria and the school bully, Wayne, is accused of the crime. But Colin sees that there is chocolate frosting on the pistol grip and realizes the gun couldn’t have belonged to Wayne because Wayne is a very fastidious eater. He sets out to prove that the bully is innocent. The book follows the adventure and the friendship that develops from Colin’s selfless devotion to the truth.
Where did the idea for this character come from?
Zack: In thinking about being a teenager, we thought about how scary and new all of the social situations are that you encounter in a high school, and how in many ways we all feel like outsiders. And in creating Colin, a boy who because of his Asperger’s syndrome has a particularly hard time understanding the emotions and intentions of others, we saw that we had a character who let us take all of those difficult experiences and make them even bigger and more extreme.
After writing a few big Hollywood blockbusters, what made you guys want to write a book?
Zack: Well, we both consider ourselves storytellers first and foremost. The medium isn’t important; the story being told is. And when we came up with Colin, we realized that it was a story that could live best in the novel format, and we were eager to stretch those new creative muscles in writing it.
Ashley: “Colin Fischer” started life as an idea for a television show. It didn’t go anywhere, but the character and his story stayed with us. It spoke to us a on a very deep level, and we kept talking about finding a way back to him. We’ve always thought of ourselves as character writers. We certainly do big, loud, exciting things in a lot of our work, but we believe the most effective moments we’ve written have been about the people in those stories. “Colin” is very different for us, but not so much as you’d think.
What are some of your favorite books?
Zack: I’m a huge fan of nonfiction, in particular books on history and science. For fun, I mainly like reading science fiction and detective novels both old (Raymond Chandler and Dashiell Hammett) and new (Robert Crais, Michael Connelly, Don Winslow, and others.) One of the things that really got me into science fiction as a kid, actually, was the comic strip adaptation of John Christopher’s Tripods trilogy that ran in the back of Boys’ Life! (The entire first book of the Tripods trilogy, The White Mountains, originally appeared in issues May 1981 through July 1982. To access our archives and read the cool story, click here.)
Ashley: As a boy, I loved “Where The Red Fern Grows”, “A Bridge to Terabithia” and “Watership Down.” All of those books were about very similar things: family, the power of love, the power of belief, and the discovery of a new world. They’re stories about outsiders who find their own place through connection with others. I also can’t get around the fact that these books are very much about death, and dealing with loss. They taught me to be more human. I love Heinlein and Tolkien. Orson Scott Card’s “Ender’s Game” is a personal favorite.
As movie buffs, are there any upcoming films that you guys can recommend to our readers?
Zack: As a ginormous fan of J.R.R. Tolkien, I’m really excited about the movie adaptation of The Hobbit. I’m also looking forward to the next Star Trek film, and also just saw a really fun movie called Chasing Mavericks (out in November) that’s sort of about big wave surfing but really about a teenager without a father who finds an unlikely mentor.
Ashley: I have high hopes for “The Hobbit” and I can’t wait for the next “Star Trek” movie.
What’s next for you two?
Zack: We’re currently working on the scripts for several movies, including a new version of Robert Heinlein’s classic science fiction novel ‘Starship Troopers.’ We’re also hard at work on the sequel to Colin Fischer, which desperately needs a cool title.
Finally, with such an extensive superhero writing past, who are your favorite superheroes?
Zack: It sounds so boring, but I love me some Batman and Superman. In terms of lesser-known heroes, I’m a big fan of the Doom Patrol, Dr. Strange, and some of the more magic-wielding characters of the DC and Marvel universes.
Ashley: Writing “Thor” was a dream come true because he was always one of my very, very favorites. I know that character backwards and forwards – I have a complete collection of Walt Simonson’s run on that book. It made a huge impression on me as a kid. I love the X-Men as well, but Thor was the man. Or the god. Or the incredibly powerful guy from another dimension. I also could be one of the biggest Batman fans in the world. My collection of Batman comics – and by that I mean every book related to Batman and the “Batman family” – is complete going back to roughly 1986. Thousands of comics, all bagged and boarded. For the record, I loved the Tim Burton films and I love the Christopher Nolan movies even more. “The Dark Knight” isn’t just the great achievement in superhero films, it’s one of the great achievements in film… period.
“Colin Fischer” is in bookstores now. Recommended for ages 13 and up. Click here to read an excerpt from the book.