It’s time for the second part in our series of EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEWS with the writers of the superhero blog The Urban 30. Season 6 is underway and the team is dealing with a smorgasbord of new challenges, villains, and personal issues. But where does all that come from? The creative force behind the characters and stories, the writing team.
We first interviewed the founder of The Urban 30, C Lorenzo Johnston. Next we’ll talk to the writer who has been with him from the beginning. She writes the character of Terra Stone AKA Elemental. Please join me in welcoming Toni Jackson as she steps Inside the Grizzly Studio!
Supascoot: Thanks for joining us. Can you tell us a little about your character, Elemental?
Toni Jackson: Elemental is around 35 in Earth years. People on her planet are much longer lived than on Earth. Terra left her home planet because she had always felt out of place there. She was the only one to have powers controlling the earth on a planet where the focus is on controlling the elements such as Fire, Storms, and Lightning. Her father, Obsidian, is the planet’s strongest Elder. It was later discovered that her father had an affair with an ambassador from another world. Terra was the result.
Was Terra around before the Urban 30, or did you create her specifically for that purpose?
I actually created Terra specifically for the U30. I try to keep characters separate in everything I write.
Elemental’s story at its core seems to be based in Science Fiction. Is that something that influenced the character’s origins, and that you are personally a fan of?
It did. I wanted a superhero that wasn’t from Earth from the beginning. I love Science Fiction and Paranormal and wanted to incorporate it into my character. Two of my favorite authors, Anne McCaffrey and Octavia Butler influenced me a lot with images of how things might be on other worlds and universes.
Elemental hasn’t been the luckiest in love since she arrived on Earth. Do you find it’s more enjoyable to write the kind of tortured heart situations that Elemental deals with, or maybe even more of a challenge?
To me it’s actually more of a challenge. People everyday write about people finding their perfect other and living the proverbial ‘happily ever after’. But what happens when fate conspires over and over again to interrupt this? That’s where the challenge comes in. How does it begin to affect the person’s outlook on life? That’s not always easy to determine.
Elemental holds the distinction of being the only U30 member with children (as far as we know… I’m looking at you, Sonus!). Do you feel like that might be an untapped theme in mainstream comics? And have you had any challenges writing a character with children?
Definitely. One of the reasons I created her with children was to show the struggle of a single mother. I had hoped to show that her strength wasn’t just physical, but mental as well. The hard part comes in when she doesn’t have a babysitter to go fight crime. Who can she turn to? The last person she can ask to watch the kids is Leroy (Sonus), not if she wants them back in one piece!
Is there a specific genre or theme you find yourself writing in besides the superhero sci-fi? Or maybe one you try to steer clear of?
I write a lot of Romance, especially paranormal. What can I say…I’m a sucker for a sob sad story. I steer completely clear of same-sex romances and attractions. I don’t believe that they’re wrong, it’s just not something that interests me.
Obviously Elemental is closely connected to the Earth, do you find yourself as a bit of a Nature nut?
Not so much a nature nut… [Laughs]. However, like Terra, I do find forests and parks peaceful. I love the colors of Autumn, the golds, reds, and browns, which I used as the basis for Terra’s coloring. It seemed natural that this should be her power.
Has writing always played a big part of your life? And did you see yourself writing a weekly post for a superhero blog?
I have always loved to write. I used to write ‘teen’ romances for my friends in Junior High..thank god my parents never saw those! As I’ve gotten older I’ve learned how to tighten up my writing to the point that I’m ready to publish some things. As for writing a weekly post, it’s something I never saw myself doing. It started as a way to practice and hone my skills and just kept going from there. I never thought it would be going on this long!
Do you have any favorite moments from the Urban 30’s past seasons?
Oh yes. Who could ever forget the infamous Christmas party held by the company Terra and Leroy used to work for? And of course, there was the first time that Terra and Vaidan admitted their feelings for each other. That was my greatest mushy moment.
Without giving anything away, what are some future plans for Elemental?
Wow. Where to begin? There is a possibility of love again in the future for her, but she has a lot of baggage to work through now, so I feel incredibly sorry for any guy that tries to win her heart. He’s going to have to be an extraordinary person. And I can tell you that more secrets concerning her birth will come to light in the future.
Very cool. I’m looking forward to it. Thanks again, Toni, for taking the time to chat with us. If I haven’t said it before I’ll say it now. You really need to check out urban3zero.com daily to be a part of the awesome story that’s just starting out for the season. And be sure to check out the next Inside the Grizzly Studio, where we will talk to another writer from The Urban 30!