From small things do bigger things grow — cubs into lions, acorns into oaks, ideas into stories and then collections of stories and then worlds.
Some time ago a friend tossed me an idea “challenge” — a story about a superhero granny whose weapons were knitting needles, and a hospital orderly sidekick.
It sounded terrifyingly improbable, but the gauntlet had been flung, and I sat down with the idea and stared it down. Superpowers. Knitting needles. Granny. Retirement home. Orderly.
I wrote the story. It was unexpectedly luminous, in the end — it took place in this retirement home for superheroes, and concerned a cranky old dude who could do nothing but complain after an accident rendered his cape unable to fly—thus making his superhero days (such as they were—he was never of the first rank) clearly and completely over.
Except that it also concerned another inmate of the home, a granny who examined the cape and realised what had gone wrong, readied her knitting needles, and asked an orderly named Eddie for red yarn to remedy the situation.
I am not going to spoil the rest of the story. It is called “The One About One More Time”, and it is part of Val Hall: The Even Years, Book I of the Val Hall series (the second book, The Odd Years, is just out).
But let me go back to those small things from which big things grow… because when I first wrote about Eddie… I did not know who he was.
To begin with, I Tuckerised the friend who tossed me the original story idea, giving the orderly character his name and certain attributes—but then he turned out to be the glue that held the entire project together.
He wasn’t just an orderly. He was the son of an ancient God, illegitimate to be sure but still immortal, and powerful. He was a Superhero First Class (because he had Divine DNA) — but he was also a Superhero Third Class, an ordinary person who exhibits a specific extraordinary talent. For him it was making origami animals that come to life.
Everyone else in these stories—people he gathered lovingly into the place he called Val Hall when he (in a prior incarnation) first founded it—came with other gifts. Hearing music still unwritten, and inspiring those who make it come alive. Protecting people from the storm. Having a voice that commands obedience. Saving a city from a bomb. Folding time. Walking alone in Seven League Boots that help everyone else move closer to a Promised Land.
These are ordinary people, in ordinary circumstances. But something happens —something triggers them — and they become EXTRAordinary. It can happen to anybody. It can happen to someone you love. It could happen to you.
In these trying times, the idea that there is a superhero living inside all of us… is an astonishingly powerful idea.
I’d like to offer you these stories.
Meet a few fellow heroes. And then go forth, and find a time and place that wakes that hero that you carry inside YOU. We all have one.