Thursday, September 3, 2015

Where did the idea originate for Home: Interstellar?

The idea for Home began as a story I told my niece. She was having trouble with bullies at school (*), bullies that she thought overwhelming. She said she was just a little kid and the school did not help. She felt helpless and sad and wished she were a superhero. I told her not to let bullies stop her from doing what she wanted because there will always be bullies, at school, at work, and in the world. I told her bullies always want you to feel alone and helpless, so don’t be alone. I also wanted her to learn to defend herself: I’ve been bullied too, and I know they don’t stop unless they are stopped by someone. When you resist bullies, you are not just fighting for yourself and what you care about, but you are helping all the other victims of bullies.

We’re not superheroes, but they’re not supervillains either, and we should not be afraid to defend ourselves. So I made up a story to illustrate.

The short story was of a child freezing in the hold of a starship, hiding from pirates, too small to defend herself and the other children on her ship from armed and ruthless villains. A decade later those same pirates came after her again. But she wasn’t a child any longer and had ten years to prepare just in case. It was not easy: she had to train hard, overcome her own fears, and then rally others the help her. But she did it. Her bullies turned out not to be just pirates, but a whole conspiracy of galactic bad guys and she was just in the way. But she never stopped fighting for what she cared about.

I first put Meriel's story to rhyme after reading "John Brown's Body," the epic Civil War poem by Steven Vincent Benet.It's really hard to write decent poetry and  my attempt brought my friends to tears...of laughter. The poem glossed over her character and stressed her heroism, so that it read more like a child's version of Beowolf. Over many years, I got to know Meriel much better and fleshed out a real story.

(*) Side note: my niece is a black belt TaiKwonDo now. Her mom was the real hero of that story.

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