Category: Behind the Writing

My Secret Identity: Unmasking a Superhero

There is no superhero costume underneath my t-shirt or claws sheathed alongside my knuckles. My origin story doesn’t involve being the prince of a mythical land or a millionaire playboy genius. However, known to very few, Superman and I, Jeremy Flagg have something in common.

Like any comic book, we must start with an origin story. I, Jeremy Jeremy Flagg, was born to Phillip & Susan Flagg. Once my father retired from the military our family returned to my parents’ hometown. In an elementary school of a little more than one-hundred students, I should have been unique, one-of-a-kind, but no, I was not the only Jeremy inside the walls of Brownville Elementary. A female name-thief, Jeremie Smith, with a tenure track exceeding my own robbed my identity. Answering simultaneously as the name was spoken, a split second decision occurred, changing my life forever. Jeremy James died and J.J. was born.

It wasn’t much of a loss. My name isn’t pronounced Jur-mee or worse Germ-ee. Despite it’s spelling, it holds three syllables. Jair-ra-mee. Neither of my parents refer to me by name, my mother opting for “Boogie bear” and my dad, mocking those who pronounce my wrong, “Germ.”

By high school my nickname had become a slurred. J.J. required two syllables, and with the right slur it could be reduced to one. Birthed from laziness, Jage became the norm. In college it would later get shrunken to Jer. In a room mixed with friends from different periods of my life, I can be called upon half a dozen ways without my birth name being used. Each salutation gives away the age, association, and origin of our meeting.

The first half of my name took a beaten during my youth, but in college, the second half would be the name that carried me into adulthood. Via instant messenger, Virginia Castagno referenced my love the X-Men’s Gambit by referring to me as Lebeau. The realization the last half of my first name was Remy spurred an inside joke. For the sake of anonymity in social media, it hid me from the world. But as I acquired friends through Facebook, my real name faded away into the nothingness. Like Wolverine having his past wiped away in place for Weapon X’s Logan, my identity vanished.

I.Am.Maine was originally meant to be published under Remy Flagg. However, in a town about my youth and growing up in Maine, how could I rob myself from my most powerful marketing tool? When it came time to release the Suburban Zombie High series, I had to make a decision, use my real name and face the potential pressure from employers or remain safely hidden amongst the shadows?

I chose Jeremy Flagg.

By printing under my legal name, I simplified my financials and gave myself a legal advantage. I chose not to hide. I chose to be true to myself. I chose to remove my glasses, shed my button down and reveal the proverbial “S” on my chest. Despite the majority of my professional associates not knowing my real first name, I took a leap of faith. But while it lended itself to my image and brand, beneath the obvious ramifications, there was a philosophical and emotional plot unfolding.

Superman, unlike many characters in comic books is not an alter ego with stupendous abilities. Superman, a man with powers beyond any human is Kal-El. Clark Kent, the average daily reporter is the costume, a secret identity woven together to give him a stronger connection to the humans he’s sworn to protect. Remy Flagg is a construct, a persona utilized to connect with the outside world. He is my shroud of safety. And like in every comic book, there is an arc in which the hero is put on the shelf and they are forced to live the world as a mundane.

While my arc played out with Remy Flagg dominating the story, I continued publishing books under my real name. Tonight, while contemplating how we perceive our identities versus our outward facing selves, I had a moment of clarity. Remy, much like Clark Kent is a construct, a persona created to help me blend in with the world around me. However, Jeremy Flagg makes his appearances much like a superhero rescuing an elderly woman from a burning building. In my writing there is a piece of me known to a very small and select group of individuals. Each time I open the document and begin writing, a cape covers my shoulders and I dare to put my underwear outside my jeans.┬áIn my writing, you’re getting to see the real Jeremy Flagg.

J.J., Jage, Jer and Remy are convienent costumes. The indestructible, amazing, uncanny, fantastic, Jeremy Flagg, the man on the page, he’s the real super man.

Hi, I’m Jeremy Flagg.


A Milestone Worth Mentioning

There are a many things worthy of slipping into the milestone category. The first books released, the first time doing audio, completing a series and first time doing a public speaking gig. Each of these have been moments when I’ve stopped and thought, “Wow, I can’t believe this happened.” I’m happy to say, with the release of Wicked Haunted, the latest anthology by the New England Horror Writers, I reached a new milestone. On Friday night, our anthology reached Best Seller status on Amazon in the Horror category.

I’m beside myself.

What’s most exciting about this, it means I have the ability to make the lists. Does the list really add up to anything? No, not really, but there are bragging rights and sales doors open once this happens. With another anthology on the horizon, there’s definitely excitement about reproducing these results.

The next big milestone? It’s a huge jump, but here’s hoping for the day when I hit the NYT or USA Today best sellers list. It could be a long way off, but at least it’s an option. So much excitement.

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Writing for the One Fan that Matters

Hi. I’m Jeremy Flagg. People call me Remy (my mom hates this) partly because Remy LeBeau is an amazing member of the X-Men and partly because it sounds classier than being called Jer. I’m known as the sarcastic guy. It’s a mantle I uphold with pride. But this post is less about me the author, and it’s about my fans.

I’m incredibly uncomfortable saying I have fans.

The first time I signed a book for a fan, I signed my name wrong. I shit you not, I forgot my name. I get incredibly anxious when I discuss my fans, because rock stars have fans. Actors have fans. Angry Birds has fans. Me? I have people who read my books and like them. Fans? Right? While this seems like a no-brainer for some, it’s humbling to say somebody other than me enjoys my work. Tonight I received an email stating that somebody used the word “favorite” when discussing my book. Favorite? I think of that word and I think chocolate lava cake…my book is on the same playing field as cake? I’m humbled.

Let me talk about my fans for a few minutes, they’re some of the coolest people I’ve ever met. Geeks. I love you. Selling my books at conventions, my fans are the ones who come to my table dressed as Rorschach from Watchmen one day and show up in their finest Kylo Ren costume the next. My fans are not only a geek, but they wear it with pride. They also know I have duct tape and I’m the first to mend breaking costumes. I wish I remembered to photograph more of their geeky awesomeness.

My fans are parents who have young kids who love to write. I had a young boy stop and talk to me about his “stories.” He told me epic tales of the adventures him and a friend from grade school craft. I believe they were the Adventures of Taco Man, what I believe will someday be a best seller. He spent a solid half hour telling me how he prefers to write than play outside. I listened, because someday I will be standing in line to have him sign my copy.

Tonight I opened my blog to write a post. I thought I’d write about my latest movie lists and I took a moment to check for any emails from fans. I found myself reading.

I am so incredibly humbled by this I found myself blushing. A real person took time from their life to compliment something I created. They felt strongly enough to leave encouragement to move forward. Reviews can be flattering (or devastating) but this was a human reaching out to another human. While I say I often write for myself, truth be told, I am writing for the kid I used to be. I’m writing for that geek who hid in the closet afraid to admit he was passionate about things other people remarked as silly or childish.

I write for this fan.

My fans have a sense of humor. They laugh in an awkward way that makes us all laugh. My fans are fierce masters of their fandoms. My fans get excited when new superhero trailers are leaked online. My fans know random obscure sci-fi books nobody has read before. My fans argue if Alien is a better movie than Aliens. My fans recognize at my core, I am a big kid. My fans. If I say it enough maybe I’ll get comfortable? My fans, they’re the reason I open my computer and write when I’m not in the mood.

So I guess what I’m trying to say is, thanks for being a fan. Everything I write is for you.

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Children of Nostradamus Book 3 Receives its Title

Last night I returned to the Children of Nostradamus. It’s like greeting old friends and commiserating over a beer. I’ve missed them and am excited to be knee-deep in a world gone mad. The story has been plotted and I know where the adventure goes. Nobody walks away the same. There’s a darkness on the horizon and difficult choices must be made. Not all of them will right. Be ready, Night Legions will show the worst of our heroes and best of our villains. In Night Legions, the darkness wears many faces. 2018.


A Decade Later the Trilogy Closes

For the last few weeks, I’ve spent hours each day sitting behind a screen, mashing away at keys. I’ve been racing against a deadline and wanted to build in a buffer in case the unthinkable happened (like my laptop dying again.) It may sound tedious, but it’s like partying with some seriously awesome people. We went on adventures, we killed some zombies, hell, we even blew up a chemistry lab together (no, not in real life you crazy folks.) But now it’s over.

I started writing Suburban Zombie High In 2006 while I was working at a very prestigious high school. It became quickly apparent that the school and I weren’t the best of fits. To cope with the demands of the job, I started writing. Many of the quotes in the book are directly taken from students in my class. Often crude, outlandish, and hysterical, this is what teens say. To up the drama, I decided to write about a zombie apocalypse taking place within the walls of the schools. The characters are based on real people from my own high school experience or from my teaching days. Of the many teachers I knew, my favorite had been the librarian I worked with. Only Renee V. kept her name, and believe me, I didn’t embellish her kick butt nature.

Of course, I’m releasing the final book of the trilogy now. They’ve been reworked, new covers, a whole overhaul. I should be dancing in my seat to publish the final tale, but as always, it comes with a bit of melancholy. This is the series that started me on my writing path. These are the characters who got me through a pretty rough period of my life. Now, both them and myself are onto bigger and better things. It’s like saying goodbye to a good friend you haven’t seen in ages.

I’m turning my eye forward again. There are three more books on the roster to be written. I plan on finishing the final two books of the Children of Nostradamus series and writing a stand alone spy/humor novel. Depending on the direction I decide to take, I have a notebook filled with ideas that will keep me writing until 2020. The first 11 books have been completed, now it’s time to get cracking on the next 11.


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