After writing for movies and TV shows as far back as 1995’s “Candyman: Farewell to the Flesh,” Mark Kruger is entering a new arena with the release of his first novel, “Overpowered.” He’s not shutting the door on his other work, though. He continues to serve as a writer and supervising producer on USA’s “Necessary Roughness,” and has a couple feature films he’s working on.
Zap2it had the chance to talk to Kruger about his new book and more at Comic-Con 2013. “I’ve always wanted to write a novel,” he says, “but it wasn’t at the forefront of my brain.” When he finally set out to do it, he didn’t have to look far. “The genesis of [‘Overpowered’], it was the first TV pilot I ever wrote.”
Originally, Kruger had worked on the idea with director Wes Craven and Julie Plec, co-creator of “The Vampire Diaries.” The pilot never materialized though. “Craven was going to direct it,” he remembers, “It was about to go, then 9/11 happened and everything fell apart.” It wasn’t until four years ago that the project started its comeback. “My TV agent said to me, ‘Have you ever thought about adapting that into a young adult novel?'” As a fan of the Y.A. Genre, it was a thought that had crossed Kruger’s mind, but not something he had explored.
From there, he took the pilot and expanded it into a world big enough to fill the book, adding characters and plot points to take the story much deeper.
So, what is “Overpowered?” The main character is a 16-year-old girl who has spent the majority of her life traveling the world with her mother. “[Then] her mom decides she should live a more traditional life with her dad in Colorado,” Kruger says. The girl is distraught when her whirlwind life lands her in “the most boring place on earth,” going to a normal high school like every other teen.
However, the boring part of her new home starts to fade away. “What she finds out is there’s this weird atmospheric occurrence that happens in the town,” Kruger explains, “and she and her friends develop advanced powers for 24 hours, which no one talks about.” From there, the girl and her friends try to discover the source of their powers, while being tracked and hunted by a corporation that essentially runs the small town.
“For me, it was a way of writing about being a youth in today’s world and feeling like your own power is taken from you because you’re expected to be a grownup,” he says, “yet you’ve got all these restrictions on you and no one seems to be talking about what they see going on.”
It seems like he’s not short on ideas for the world he’s created either, as Kruger adds, “I know what the first two novels will be and I have an idea of the third.”
Writing the book has also been a fun experiment, while working on a TV show at the same time. “‘Necessary Roughness’ is so different from ‘Overpowered’ and I love being able to be in both worlds,” he says. “That’s the fun of being a writer, to reinvent yourself and find your voice in different mediums.”
Speaking of “Necessary Roughness,” the show made a big change for its third season, with John Stamos joining the cast. While things may be a little different now, Kruger says, “It’s still about Dr. Dani Santino. Callie Thorne and John Stamos just have a lot of chemistry and Stamos is fantastic to work with.”
As for what to expect from the rest of the season, Kruger says there’s “a lot of big twists and turns” coming. “Every episode pushes the mystery forward,” he hints, “What has Dr. Santino gotten in the middle of? What about Stamos’ character, Connor McClane? Is he a good guy? A bad guy? What’s his end game?”
When he’s not busy with those two jobs, Kruger also somehow manages to write movies. He has adapted a Shirley Jackson novel, “We Have Always Lived in the Castle,” that is looking to film in 2014. That’s not the only Jackson story he has on his plate. “I’m adapting a short story called “The Lottery” for Michael Douglas, who’s producing it. It’s one of the great short stories of American literature in the 20th Century.”
“Overpowered” will be in stores August 27. “Necessary Roughness” airs on USA, Wednesday’s at 10 p.m. ET/PT.