How to write a book: Step One….

It all started with a dare

A friend on Facebook came up with something that he gleefully shared with me – a story prompt, of sorts – inviting a story about a superhero, a little old lady with knitting needles, and her sidekick, an orderly in a nursing home. This friend (hold that thought – we will return to this person in a moment….) posted that on my wall with a challenge to write just that.
Naturally, I said no (wasn’t the idea preposterous???) and then the damned thing got injected into my creative bloodstream and infected me, like a virus.
I wrote the story – the one with the little old lady superhero, and the knitting, and the nursing home, and the orderly. And it actually turned out surprisingly well, for such a gloriously weird story prompt. It turned out fairly luminously, in fact. It was about the little old lady, but it also introduced an orderly named Eddie, and a place called Val Hall – a Retirement Home for Superheroes, Third Class.
And then the entire thing mushroomed into something far richer and far more strange.


How to write posterEddie, the orderly, transmuted into something amazing. Also, he assumed the gifts – and pretty much the identity (I Tuckerized him…) of the friend who sicced me onto this project in the first place.
Before I knew it, I had a project on my hands. A project which had me writing a “Wikipedia” entry about Val Hall as though it really existed (and dear GOD I hope it does, somewhere…) and Superheroes, Third Class, became a Thing.
Whether their gifts involved controlling storm winds, flying, being a muse, deflecting weapons of mass destruction, bending time, knowing exactly when people are going to die, touching things and knowing everything that there is to know about them, Superheroes, Third Class are ordinary people, all of them, who have been given the burden of one enormous, special, fantastic superhero ability.
Apart from that, they’re just like you, just like me. You’d never know, if you didn’t know. They’re real people, living real lives, and the message that comes pulsing out of every single story I wrote for the Val Hall collection is simply this:

Superheroes are us

This lies inside every single human being. If you have ever done something special, something extraordinary, and you have (all of us have) – there is a real possibility that Val Hall is waiting for YOU.
I needed a framework so I put together a “century” of Val Hall stories – tales tied to individual years in which specific superheroes made their abilities clear. I divided the stories into two volumes, the “Even Years”, and the “Odd Years”. I tied the years into moments of history, moments you will recognize, know, perhaps even personally remember – and not a single one of those moments will ever be quite the same again, not after you meet the superhero at its heart; I know they weren’t for me. There are stories in this collection that made ME weep and shiver. It really is that special.
You might think that there is very little to be said on the subject of decrepit, ancient, geriatric ex-heroes in a nursing home in the twilight of their lives – but you’d be wrong. This is the wisdom of the elders. These are the superheroes you will remember.
There are no high-speed chases here, or “shazam” moments, or ‘Deus-ex-machina’ gods, or aliens. We aren’t going to Wakanda, or Gotham, or that place that almost shares the name of my refuge, the “other” Valhalla.
You’re coming home, with me, with all of them, with Eddie who cares for them and loves them all and is so fiercely proud of them all. Eddie has his own secrets – and you’re being given a rare privilege. You’re invited to talk to a superhero. One on one. You’re invited to find out what makes them tick, what makes them unique, what makes them special… and how you can use all that as a mirror to find out where you’re special, too.
Superheroes are us. They always have been.
Welcome to Val Hall.


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