From Small Town to Big City – The Big Nickel to the Big Apple
How a self-confessed book nerd has taken a life-long inspiration from Spider-Man
Mark Leslie Lefebvre has a lot in common with Michael Andrews, the main character of his latest novel, Fright Nights, Big City. And Andrews has a lot in common with Peter Parker, the alter-ego of Spider-Man.
Lefebvre, who writes under the name Mark Leslie, grew up in a small town with a population of approximately 2,000 people. To him, a “big city,” even with its 1980s era population was a little over 90,000. Michael Andrews, the hero of his Canadian Werewolf series that started with the 2016 release of A Canadian Werewolf in New York, also grew up in a small Ontario town, but found himself re-located to a much larger city.
The series, which the author describes as humorous thrillers, follows the adventures of a man cursed with lycanthropy. On the nights of a full moon, he turns into a grey wolf with no human consciousness or memory of his time roaming about on all fours. And, when in human form, he possesses additional senses and supernatural strength that he uses to help others.
Andrews, like Lefebvre himself, is a bit out of place in a big city, and some of the humor is derived from that ‘fish out of water’ scenario as well as the human being a bit of a nerd and geeky pushover. Lefebvre marveled at reading science-fiction and fantasy novels, as well as the extensive selection of comic books available at both locations. Inspired by the nerd-turned hero Peter Parker, Lefebvre loved the superhero’s creed that ‘with great power comes great responsibility.’ “Michael Andrews, who, in the novels, reveals his love of the world-famous wall-crawler, was, like me, inspired by Peter Parker. He also realizes that his curse came with side-effects that could be applied to helping others.”
In Fright Nights, Big City, the fourth book in the Canadian Werewolf series, Andrews teams up with two other supernatural humans and an occult expert to take on an infiltration of neo-Nazi bad guys seeking to create an army of super-powered cult members hoping to spread their message of hatred, ill-will, and fear.
The novel, which can be read as a stand-alone, takes place immediately following the events of Lefebvre’s previous book in that series, Fear and Longing in Los Angeles. In that book, Andrews first encounters the horrific cult, and falls in love with a woman with her own powerful supernatural abilities.
“Yes, the titles are cheeky nods to other movies and books,” Lefebvre says in response to a comment that his books bear striking resemblances to familiar other titles, such as the movies An American Werewolf in London, Bright Lights, Big City, and the movie and book Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas. “That classic werewolf movie by John Landis was a humor/horror film. I wanted potential readers to know that, though it was about a werewolf, humor was an important element of it, and the other books.”
The chapter titles within the books follow a similar pattern of informing the reader of the subtle humor embedded throughout the urban fantasy action and adventure series. Chapter titles from this latest novel include: When You Swiftly Get Caught Between the Moon and New York City; Where Wolf? There, There Wolf! Aware Wolf!; Fright Night’s Not Alright for Fightin’; and Urine for Another Delay.
Andrews, who is an alpha wolf by night, is a beta human by day, and much of the humor comes from his narratorial observations about the world and circumstances around him, as well as his penchant for cracking jokes in the face of danger. “It’s sort of a ‘whistling past the graveyard’ type of thing for Michael,” Lefebvre says. “He is terrified when in the throes of a fight with these bad guys, so his jokes are the result of the nervous tension he feels. Like me, Michael is more at home with his nose in a book or his fingers on a keyboard than in any physical arena.”
When asked if he has more tales planned for the series, Lefebvre reveals that he is already at work on a novella length back-story in the same universe. Lover’s Moon will be a combination adventure/romance book co-authored with Julie Strauss. Lefebvre says he is writing it in response to fans who want to know more about the back-story of Michael and his best-friend Gail, who, prior to the events in the first novel, were revealed to have once been lovers.
“It’s important to give the readers what they want,” he grins. “I’m just lucky that I’m having such a good time at the work involved in meeting those needs.”
And if what readers want is an action adventure sprinkled with tension, fear, some Canadian sensibilities, and a dramatic comic-book-like fight between good and evil, that’s exactly what they’ll get in Fright Nights, Big City.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Mark Leslie’s books, including the Canadian Werewolf titles, are available online in most formats. If they are not in stock at your favorite local store, they can be ordered. You can also request them via your local library.
A CANADIAN WEREWOLF IN NEW YORK
STOWE AWAY (Novella)
FEAR AND LONGING IN LOS ANGELES
FRIGHT NIGHTS, BIG CITY