Two weeks from LAUNCH DAY and I think it's only fitting that I acknowledge one of my major creative influences, the Amazing Spider-Man.
When people ask me to describe ANOM: Awakening I tell them it's like a comic book for adults, only much longer and without any pictures. And honestly, that's exactly what I tried to create. I wanted to write the kind of novel that I would enjoy reading myself.
I love comic books! I love superheroes! And my hands-down, absolute favorite is your friendly neighborhood Spider-Man.
I fell in love with Spider-Man during the fourth grade (and even though that's not 100% accurate. I was a big fan of Spider-Man and his Amazing Friends -- the cartoon with Spidey, Iceman, and Firestar -- but I digress). But in fourth grade my parents got me a subscription to The Amazing Spider-Man, and I never looked back.
My first issue, all those years ago, featured a forgettable character named Cardiac (well-respected surgeon by day/vigilante at night capable of tapping into the electricity of his own pace-maker). Then, just yesterday, I picked up my latest issue, Civil War 2: Amazing Spider-Man #1 from our local comic shop, Crossroads Comics.
So how have 25 years of Spider-Man influenced my writing and my novel?
To answer that question, I need to start by explaining why I love Spider-Man in the first place. For me, the story of Spider-Man has always revolved around the concept of self-sacrifice.
We're all familiar with the Spider-Man mantra, "With great power there must also come great responsibility." But do we ever stop and ask ourselves, "a great responsibility to what?" When we see the question, I think the answer becomes obvious. Spider-Man feels an overwhelming responsibility to serve the greater good, often at the price of tremendous self-sacrifice.
This altruism by Peter Parker is present in a way that's missing from the other two BIG superheroes. Batman seems to be motivated by a near-psychotic need to avenge his murdered family. And Superman is more "Superman" than Clark Kent. In other words, they exist at polar ends of the same spectrum. Batman is meeting his own selfish need for vengeance and Superman is so perfect that of course he's fighting for truth, justice, and the American way. In other words, in a real sense, Batman and Superman are both doing EXACTLY what they want to do.
Spidey is different. For as much fun as he seems to be having web-swinging through the city, there always exists within Spider-Man the tension between what Peter Parker "wants" to do, and what Spider-Man "has" to do.
So what does this mean for my novel, ANOM: Awakening?
After 25 years with Spider-Man, my idea of heroism has become inextricably linked to the idea of sacrifice and that theme comes up again and again in my writing.
Spider-Man books are full of action, and action is great! Hopefully you read some of the action sequences in my book and think they're awesome. But action, by itself, is hollow. It's the choice -- the decision to act in the face of great personal sacrifice -- that makes any action heroic.
In ANOM: Awakening characters are faced with these choices again and again, and just like in real life, they don't always get it right. But when they do . . . that's heroic. And hopefully that's worth reading about.