Like many of my generation, I grew up surrounded by superheroes. The pantheon had started being assembled years before I was born with helmet-haired, square-jawed icons like Superman and Captain Marvel, but gradually evolved to more conflicted, human-scale superheroes like Batman and Spider-Man. As a child in the 1970s, I was fortunate to grow up at a time when Wonder Woman was also on the pop culture scene. This tough but womanly superhero role model wasn’t just a female version of a male character. It was impressive how Wonder Woman deflected bullets with her wrist cuffs, but, still, the genre never really excited me.
This might sound strange given that I’ve recently published my first novel, The Adventures of Vivian Sharpe, Vegan Superhero. However, I am more interested in characters that respond in complex but revealing ways to the world that they inhabit. I didn’t want to create a shock-and-awe-style superhero who could leap tall buildings and punch or kick the bad guys into oblivion; with Vivian Sharpe, a subdued 15-year-old girl who experiences a deep internal fissure, I wanted to create a character who would realistically respond to her internal revolution as the world around her keeps spinning in ever more dizzying circles.
Vivian inhabits the same world we do: one with genetically engineered food, industrialized agriculture, deforestation. Vivian is blissfully ignorant, though, and lives a sheltered existence until she is irreversibly rattled at her foundation by a seemingly ordinary decision to eat a ham sandwich. This sets into motion a dramatic chain reaction in which, for the first time in her life, Vivian must take center stage.
An exuberant pig spirit named Tolstoy appears in Vivian’s life, informing her that she is going to be responsible for bringing a huge change into the world, whether she wants to or not. Soon after, Vivian discovers that she has developed a hyper-empathy and intuition, as keenly felt as another sense, which will be both her source of strength and her Achilles’ heel. It turns out that trouble is underfoot in her town of Center City, and the most powerful, entrenched business in town is preparing to release a product that could have disastrous ecological repercussions, not just in her hometown, but internationally. With the free-spirited Wren Summers, her new best friend, the occasional visit from Tolstoy and her recently developed powers, Vivian must piece together what is happening and try to stop it. Meanwhile, she begins receiving packages with threatening messages from a long-underground activist thought to be an eco-terrorist. In this uncharted territory, Vivian must keep moving so she can stop what the most powerful people in her town are intent on creating.
Although she is thrown into very unexpected circumstances, Vivian is also just a teenager trying to just navigate that world, and she faces the same conflicts anyone else would. The Adventures of Vivian Sharpe, Vegan Superhero explores what happens when one unremarkable teenaged girl has no choice but to step up and become extraordinary.
To find out more, or to order the book, visit http://viviansharpe.com/.