I’ve been thinking a lot about literary heroes, specifically the nature of their heroism.
If you watch blockbuster films—or read books with the same designation—there’s sometimes a suggestion that “hero” equals kickboxing, car-chasing, baby-saving and other over-the-top verbs that most of us don’t perform on a daily basis. And all that’s wonderful. I’m all for superheroes and larger-than-life characters with actions that match.
And yet I prefer my heroes to be sandwiched by the realities—and complexities— of daily life. I prefer my heroes on a piquant rye with all the fixin’s.
As an English major, I spent my fair share of time studying Joseph Campbell and the hero’s journey. What I love about Campbell, and those who follow his lead, is the universality of the trek and the criteria for heroism. In Campbell’s world, the hero isn’t always a kick-butt-now-ask-questions-later character, but a three-dimensional person on a path of internal and external discovery.
This is the path that my protagonist, Maggie O’Malley, follows. Maggie is a super-smart young woman with a relatively ordinary life. She’s shy, nerdy, messy and prone to spilling coffee on her blouse within minutes of dressing. She doesn’t seek adventure or challenge. In fact, she shrinks from it. But when challenge comes knocking, she opens the door. She rises to the occasion. She kicks butt, rights wrongs and saves the day, but only with serious contemplation and initial resistance, ultimately discovering that the hero she’s been seeking is the one within.
So as the release date of 39 Winks, the second book in the Maggie O’Malley Mystery Series, approaches, I channel my inner Maggie. I set aside fears, ignore that voice that says I can’t, and take the chances required to become the hero of my own story. I’m so glad to introduce you to Maggie and to the world she both fears and conquers. I’m grateful to have you along for her—our—journey. Thank you.