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Author Interview: Brad Meltzer on Heroes for My Son

When Brad Meltzer's first son was born eight years ago, the bestselling writer and new father started compiling a list of heroes whose virtues and talents he wanted to share with his son -  each one an ordinary person who was able to achieve the extraordinary. The list grew to include the fifty-two amazing people now gathered in Heroes for My Son, a book that parents and their children—sons and daughters alike—can now enjoy together as they choose heroes of their own.

1. Who were your heroes as a boy ... have they changed?

My Mom and my grandfather. After them, Jim Henson and Mr. Rogers always led the list. Sure, there are tons of others in the book -- from Rosa Parks, to Gandhi, to Muhammad Ali -- but Jim Henson and Mr. Rogers just always had the biggest impact on me. Maybe it was their kindness. Maybe it was Kermit and that idea of “making millions of people happy.” Maybe it was just my obsession with idealistic puppets. But the idea of being the top of your game -- at the cutting-edge of entertainment -- and you can do anything, but instead, you give all of that to children’s public television…? Yes. My heroes. But Mom now wins.

2. The heroes you've chosen are so different -- some famous, some not, some from long ago, and some very current - are there any common ties?

They all help someone. That's all you need to be a hero. That's the only requirement. You can help someone directly, like Mother Teresa, Abraham Lincoln, or Frank Shankwitz (one of the founders of the Make-A-Wish Foundation), or you can simply inspire, which I believe were the best legacies of people like Amelia Earhart, Jim Henson, Muhammad Ali or so many others. We forget the power of inspiration. That inspiration feeds the entire world.

3. You're best known for writing thrillers and mysteries. How was writing this collection different?

In my thrillers, I can make up whatever I want. Here, these were the stories of Gandhi and Rosa Parks and Eleanor Roosevelt. I need 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.

5. You say that the messages in your stories are equally important for your daughter; so does she mind the title?

My daughter doesn't mind because I'm working on Heroes For My Daughter right now. And the heroes I choose won't differ one bit. To me, every single hero in Heroes For My Son is someone I would share with my daughter, and vice versa. Rosa Parks is good for everyone. But it doesn't stop my daughter from saying, all the time, "You done with my book yet?"

6. Can you share what you're working on next?

My next thriller is called The Inner Circle. It's a mystery set in the White House. Comes out in January and I can't wait to show the secrets inside.

If you would like to win a copy of Heroes For My Son for yourself, simply leave a comment on this post. We will randomly select two winners.

General contest rules: To enter, you must be a U. S. resident, and at least 18 years of age and you must leave a comment or question on today’s post. No purchase necessary. The winner(s) will be randomly selected and will receive a win a copy of  Heroes For My Son . Employees, contractors, and the families of employees and contractors of Daily Grommet, Inc. are not eligible to enter. You are not eligible to win if you have received a prize or giveaway from Daily Grommet in the last six months. Void where prohibited. Contest will run from 8:00 am EST May 13th through 10:00 pm EST May 13th, 2010.


  • jennifer grover Says:

    What a great sounding book. I'm definately going to check it out as a father's day gift

  • Megan K Says:

    This sounds like a really fantastic book! I think my husband would really enjoy it with our 2 year old son and another boy on the way!

  • Darleen and Gregg Says:

    I love the concept of this book and can't wait for the second one even though I have all boys. My husband is a fan of your work so tis will be a pleasant surprise. Definitely a Father's Day pick.

  • julie Says:

    follow on twitter @waterbluffy sounds great ty

  • Katherine Persons Says:

    SOunds like an inspiring book would love to read it.

  • Steve Says:

    What a great idea... I had articles that I wanted to read to my kids like bedtime stories, but didn't think to go a little farther & take pieces of people I wanted them to be like.

  • Amy Says:

    I heard Brad on the radio this morning (in VA). I loved hearing how he chose the selected 'heroes' and a few of those who didn't make the cut (and why). Sounds like this is the perfect dad's day, baby gift, grad present! I can't wait to read it!

  • Tori Says:

    Thank you all for your thoughtful comments-- and thanks Brad for generously giving away 2 books!

    The random winners were 4 and 6-- so congratulations to both Julie and Steve!

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