guest post by Gary Parkes I am pleased to present this interview with bestselling author Brad Meltzer, whom I first met in 2004, to all my fellow Savvy Daddies out there. This interview was done just for you all. As we approach Father’s Day this new book, Heroes for My Son, is even more noteworthy. Author Brad Meltzer wrote this amazing collection for his sons and thought this was worth sharing with the world and it truly is! Brad created a book that shows more than great people. It shows the single moment that makes each person great. While the title may say Heroes for My Son, this collection is important for boys and girls alike. We can never have enough heroes after all. Brad Meltzer is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Book of Fate, as well as the bestsellers The Tenth Justice, Dead Even, The First Counsel, The Millionaires and The Zero Game. He is also one of the co-creators of the TV show, Jack & Bobby—and is the Eisner Award-winning author of the critically acclaimed comic book, Justice League of America. Raised in Brooklyn and Miami, Brad is a graduate of the University of Michigan and Columbia Law School. Brad currently lives in Florida with his wife Cori, who's also an attorney, and their three children-Jonas, Lila and Theo. To learn more about Brad and his works, please visit www.bradmeltzer.com and to learn more about Heroes for My Son, please visit www.heroesformyson.com. How long have you worked on this book and what was the spark that lead you to this collection of heroes? It began the night my first son was born. I was stuck at a red light, and I remember looking up at the black sky and thinking of this baby boy we were just blessed with. That’s when I asked myself the question for the very first time: What kind of man did I want my son to be? I have three children now. I’ve long ago realized I have little say in the matter. But at that moment, I decided that I wanted to write a book over the course of my son’s life and then when I eventually gave it to him, he’d realize what a brilliant father I was. I’d assumed Norman Rockwell would of course be resurrected to paint the moment, because it would be that perfect. But the book was just a list of silly platitudes -- until a friend of mine told me this story about the Wright Brothers: Every day Orville and Wilbur Wright went out to fly their plane, they would bring enough materials for multiple crashes. That way, when they crashed, they could rebuild the plane and try again. Think about it a moment: every time they went out-every time-they knew they were going to fail. But that’s what they did: Crash and rebuild. Crash and rebuild. And that’s why they finally took off. I loved that story. I still love that story. And that’s the kind of story I wanted my son to hear: a story that wouldn’t lecture to him, but would show him that if he was determined…if he wasn’t afraid to fail…if he had persistence (and a side order of stubbornness), the impossible becomes possible. Since that time, I’ve been collecting heroes for this book, which has been one of the most rewarding projects of my life. When you were thinking who to include, what was your process like? Did you know most of the people you wanted to feature off the top of your head? Some I always knew, like Jim Henson, Rosa Parks, or George Washington. Sometimes, I just liked someone, like Charlie Chaplin or Lucille Ball -- and their stories would be even more inspiring than I ever thought. And sometimes, we'd find out what a jerk someone was. But the goal of the book was always the same: This wasn't about fame. It's about what we are all capable of on our very best days. Since this is your first non-fiction work, did you have to go about the research differently than you do for the fiction books? In my thrillers, I can make up whatever I want. Here, these were the stories of Gandhi and Rosa Parks and Eleanor Roosevelt. I needed to get it right. I felt like the guy who carries the Olympic torch for one block. It's not mine. But for this one block, I'm the caretaker. That mattered to me. I understand the simple sentence “Batman and Robin were in the Batmobile.” plays a key part in your life and this collection. How so? The very first hero in the book was my grandfather, Ben Rubin. When I was little, my grandfather knew I loved hearing Batman stories, so he’d always tell me this one story that went like this: “Batman and Robin were in the Batmobile. And they were riding along the edge of a curving cliff. And up ahead of them was a white van, which held the Joker, the Penguin, the Riddler, and Catwoman. And as they drove along this cliff, Batman and Robin caught them.” That’s when I’d look him right in the eyes and whisper, “Tell it again.” He’d smile at me and say, “Batman and Robin were in the Batmobile… It was the same story every time. Just four sentences long. Batman and Robin were in the Batmobile… But he told me this story over and over simply because he knew I loved hearing it. That’s a hero to me. In that action, he taught me about love and compassion and dedication. He taught me the power of creativity. He opened the first window of my imagination. And most of all, as I looked back on it, he showed me the true impact of a well-told story. That’s what I wanted for my son. Did having so many great women in your life, shape who you consider heroes? You know me too well. I love strong women. I was raised by strong women. So how could that not effect me. I know your Mom passed away last year and it has been difficult. What would she think about being one of the heroes in your book? Would she like it or would she tell you not to include her? She'd say I was being ridiculous. But she also knew when to be a proud Mom. Although this is your first non-fiction book, it is not the first time heroes have been prominent in your work, correct? In every thriller I do, I'm writing about my belief that ordinary people are the ones who change the world. And it's the same with the work I do in comic books. Heroes are everywhere. Tell us a little bit about the charity, Ordinary People Change The World, you started and the work the foundation has done to date? I think the best way to answer this is sometimes to simply show it. Go here and see the power of ordinary people: Why is this book important for both boys and girls alike? We all need heroes. And heroes, to me, aren't different for boys and girls. I'd give every single hero in this book to my daughter. To do otherwise would be just foolish. You consider this book less a history lesson and more a dynamic guide to living, correct? Why? I just think we need to be reminded that anything's possible. Often, we get that message from movies. But forget movies. That message is here -- in real life. I want my kids to know that. And I want people to say to whoever it was in their life, "Thank you for being my hero." Your last fiction book, Book of Lies, involves Superman, the original superhero. In Heroes for My Son, the creators of Superman are also featured? What has Superman meant to you? Do your children share the same love of superheroes? They don't. But they do know I believe in his morality. It's still a potent message. Which is your favorite Superman-George Reeves, Christopher Reeve, Brandon Routh, or Tom Wellig? Christopher Reeve. No question. Do you have a favorite Batman-Adam West, Michael Keaton, Val Kilmer, George Clooney, or Christian Bale? Bale, but without the throaty voice. I imagine your daughter, Lila, will be expecting a book as well? Expecting? Every day she comes into my office and says, "Are you done with my book yet?" She knows I'm working on it. What is your most important hope for your children? Besides health, that they accept themselves for who they are. I know you really enjoy interacting with your readers. Would you like to hear about your reader’s heroes? Yes! If you go to www.HeroesForMySon.com, we've asked people to submit their own. With blogging and the internet so many people are becoming writers. Any advice for aspiring writers? Never let anyone tell you "no." Any final words of advice for the thousands of Dads of all walks of life who are fellow Savvy Daddies that will read this? I just hope they enjoy sharing with their kids as much as I've enjoyed building this for my own. Gary Parkes, the interviewer, is a fellow Savvy Daddy who moderates the Savvy Daddy Tweens Group on Facebook. He lives in the Atlanta suburbs with his wife Stacie and his two daughters, Abigail and Delilah. By day, Gary works as a mortgage loan officer and helps run the PTA at his children’s school. Gary currently serves as a Vice President of the Carmel Elementary School PTA in Woodstock, GA and will be the Co-President starting in June. In what is typically a Mom-dominated area, Gary is proud to show that us Dads can handle it too! More than ever, Dads are taking part in their children’s schools and lives and Gary is glad to be a part of that trend, albeit a small one. Feel free to look up Gary on Facebook or LinkedIn-he would be glad to hear from you!
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