Don't Touch by Barb Taub

In a former life, Barb Taub wrote a humor column for several Midwest newspapers. Now living in an English castle with her prince-of-a-guy and the world's most spoiled AussieDog, she enjoys translating from British to American, travel, and collaborating with daughter Hannah on the main volumes of the Null City series.

Twitter Name @barbtaub

Hope flares each morning in the tiny flash of a second before Lette touches that first thing. And destroys it.

Her online journal spans a decade, beginning with the day a thirteen-year-old inherits an extreme form of the family ‘gift’. Every day whatever she touches converts into something new: bunnies, bubbles, bombs, and everything in between.

Lette’s search for a cure leads her to Stefan, whose fairy-tale looks hide a monstrous legacy, and to Rag, an arrogant, crabby ex-angel with boundary issues. The three face an army led by a monster who feeds on children’s fear. But it’s their own inner demons they must defeat first.

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Q) What inspired you to write this story?
My daughter and I have this tiny little life-altering addiction to superhero movies. Okay, we’d probably starve to death with chocolate only a room away if a Marvel hero was in front of us. (Except Hulk, of course, because that would be just wrong.) But in general, give some guy a spandex outfit and a mask and he owns us.

One night we started talking about superheroes with awkward powers. Let’s say you are the Man of Steel, but you don’t dare have sex with Lois Lane because your LittleMan of Steel would probably split her in two. (And we’re not even going to discuss the havoc your Swimmers of Steel could wreck on Woman of Pasta…)

The point is that when you think about it, most people with special powers would be lining up to get rid of them and get their normal lives back. That’s where Null City comes in. After one day there, those with extra gifts turn into their closest human counterparts. For example, imps become baristas. (Of course, they’re now ex-PhD candidates in literature or classics who claim to be experts on third-world coffee blends and obscure world music groups. But hey – there is only so close to human that hellspawn can get…)

So the point of Null City is that it takes our fantasy worlds and turns them into normal life.

Q) How long did it take you to write?
The first book in the series (One Way Fare) took a year to write. And edit. And rewrite. But Don't Touch is a quick read set in that world, and it just flew onto the page.

Q) What is your favorite thing about writing?
I love to tell myself a story. And of course, there is the whole power trip, which appeals to me as a parent. And yet, it's a sad truth: even though I hold the power of life and death over them, my characters have no more respect for my authority than do my children. Hmmm....

Q) What is your least favorite thing about writing?
Taking my beautiful, deathless prose and sending it into exile in my dead kittens file. Even though I tell my words that they are just resting, and that I will find a use for them someday, I suspect they know that I also have several old bridesmaids dresses I said the same thing about.

Q) If you could be any famous person for one day, who would you be and why?
I'd like to be the Pope for about fifteen minutes. I'd quickly change several rules, and then go back to being me, turn on CNN, and sit back to watch the fun.

Q) What is the oldest thing in your fridge and how old is it?
There is a bowl of brown stuff in the freezer. Some days I tell myself that it might be the banana chocolate ice cream we made last Christmas. Other days I feel sure that it is the best-forgotten sludge from a very unfortunate attempt at Duck Liver Pâté. I usually come to the conclusion that it's best not to risk finding out which it is.

Q) What can readers expect from you in the future?
I'm having lots of fun with the Null City series right now. In the next two books, things will take a slightly darker turn and some favorite characters will have a difficult time. (Do you think maybe the power of being their author has gone to my head?)

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