By Laura K. Deal
I once knew a man who introduced himself with the identifier “Hero Support.” He threw parties for writers, read their books, and generally championed his author friends every chance he got. I thought of him again last weekend, when I helped celebrate the release of Lisa Brown Robert’s book, How (not) to Fall in Love. She told the most wondrous fairy tale, and reminded us that we should never give up on our dreams, because they do come true. She also called me out for making her nervous by telling her that I was looking forward to her signing even more than the Neil Gaiman signing in Fort Collins the day before hers. It’s true, I had a fun time standing in line to support Neil Gaiman’s work and the independent bookstore, Old Firehouse Books, which hosted the event. I made new friends, and got half a minute of Neil Gaiman’s attention. It was a half-minute worth waiting for, to take a look at how a true hero does a marathon signing–in Neil’s case, with graciousness and humor for each and every one of us for eleven hours straight.
Of course I enjoyed Lisa’s more. She and I started walking together on this journey years ago, both of us learning, being hero support to our friends who had books born into the world. Now it’s Lisa’s turn to be the hero, and it was fabulous to see so many of her friends turn out for her launch party. And I had the chance last week to celebrate Christine-Liu Perkins’ book At Home in Her Tomb. In conjunction with Chinese New Year, she gave a talk at the library and offered a craft for us to try. After watching the long process of this book from inspiration to publication, it was immensely satisfying to be able to see it reaching out to even more readers.
This is what I love most about the writers I know–they truly celebrate each others’ successes, because we all share a conviction best summed up recently by Denise Vega when I commented that some days it’s tempting to walk away: “Indeed. But the call is always stronger than that temptation to walk – we have things to say. Important things.” We celebrate all the books and the courageous writers who draw from their own hearts and souls to create them. They…we…have important things to say.
The term “Hero Support” comes, of course, from fiction, particularly heroic fantasy. These are the sidekicks who help the heroes shine, like Fisk, in Hilari Bell’s Knight and Rogue series. Okay, maybe Fisk wouldn’t have thought of himself that way at first, but clearly Michael assumes the role of hero. That makes Fisk hero support. What I love about their relationship, though, is that they both grow beyond such labels, and take turns with them. The ways they interact can teach the reader a lot about when to be the hero, and when to be the support. It’s a lesson that serves us all, as our roles shift within friendships, or family, or the larger community. Today may not be my day to be the hero, but, like Fisk, my time will come around again. And when it does, I know all the heroes in my life will be there supporting me.