Recently, I was asked a question many writers encounter on a regular basis: How did you get the idea for your novel? Oftentimes writers don’t know where we get the inspiration from ourselves but here’s what I do know.
The novel is called To be a Hero. It’s about a girl called Valerie who has grown up reading stories about heroes, so that when a self-proclaimed hero in mask and costume shows up in her small town, she decides to become a hero herself.
As it already clear from the topic one of the main themes is heroes. This is a topic, which seems to be omnipresent in our media more than ever. Recently, immensely successful comic book adaptations of heroes have been made. Even the 2014 Academy Award Ceremony had heroes as its theme.
My first decision was that I wanted a main character who is undoubtedly a nerd and identifies herself as one. Valerie grew up on legends of heroes like Odysseus and Beowulf. Of course she would also have read more recent literature about heroes but for copyright reasons I decided to focus on the older ones.
So now I had my main character. But most heroes aren’t alone. They have friends. What better foundation for a friendship, as many nerds will agree with me, than having an obsession in common. So I gave her friend, who actually dresses up like a superhero from comic books and strolls around the city, trying to perform good deeds. Naturally, both feel like outsiders in a rather judgemental little town and so they become friends. They also remain friends because it was important for me to make the point that just because the main characters are a male/female duo, they don’t have to end up getting their hearts broken in a tedious romantic subplot. Besides, as Valerie and Shadow agree, for most heroes in stories, their love life often ends in tragedy and death; unnecessary complications they can do without, considering they still have their normal lives, including stress of handing in their homework on time.
In the course of the story, Valerie and Shadow discover they have different views of what a hero is, views that also clash with the heroic images other characters in the novel have. They discover that the title of hero is very changeable and doesn’t always mean you have to save the whole world. Sometimes it’s enough to get over one of your own fears and do something nice for someone else.
All those different ideas of what a hero can be and how one can become one in a world where there are no evil empires to fight and where the hero is just an ordinary, teenaged girl leading a fairly average normal life. It especially appealed to me to not have Valerie be the chosen one but to struggle with being a hero because that’s the destiny she decided for herself.
Read more about Valerie in To be a Hero
Valerie has loved stories about heroes ever since she was a child. Now it’s her chance to become one herself.
When a masked, self-proclaimed hero called Shadow appears in her hometown, she decides to team up with him and become a hero herself. Valerie is an unlikely adventurer. She can’t run fast and she is a little insecure. But she is passionate about turning her life into an interesting story.
However, soon she has to learn that living a story is not as easy as she had thought. In a small town with no big adventures, the person underneath Shadow’s mask is the only mystery worth exploring. When Shadow’s secrets pile up, she has to learn to face problems without her mask.
In a world that believes it no longer needs heroes, can Valerie and Shadow prove it wrong?