WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. - On the day Brad Meltzer's first child was born, he decided to write a book. A book that would help his boy become a good man.
"But the truth was I didn't know anything about being a father," says Meltzer.
But he did know how to tell a story. You see, Brad Meltzer is the author of seven bestselling novels!
"I wrote number one: love God. Number two: be nice to the fat kid in class. I started writing rules but we know rules are silly. What I think is far more amazing is when you can give kids absolute proof that what you dream you can be."
In Heroes For My Son, Brad didn't just write about great people, he wrote about the moments that made them great.
"Every time the Wright Brothers went out to fly this plane," he says, "they would bring enough materials for multiple crashes. It meant everytime they went out they knew they were gonna fail. If you have a dream, work hard with a side order of stubbornness, you can do anything in this world."
Thomas Jefferson is in the book, not because he wrote the Declaration of Independence, but because he never took credit for it.
"No politician today would have that kind of humility that's proof that humility can get you far."
Brad's book features many famous people and some that should be, like Frank Shankwitz.
"He's a police officer who found out about a little boy with leukemia who also wanted to be a police officer. He had a little uniform made for the boy and goes into his hospital room and when the boy falls into a coma he pins some motorcycle wings on the boy. The boy wakes up, out of the coma and smiles. Then he falls backs into the coma and dies. On the way back from the funeral Frank Shankwitz looks at his buddy and says, 'For one day we made that kid happy. We should do that for others,' and that's how the Make-A-Wish foundation was born."
Brad also wrote about sports heroes like Roberto Clemente who
played for the Pittsburgh Pirates.
But he didn't write about his baseball skills.
"Roberto Clemente found out about an earthquake in Nicaragua..and sent food and medicine. Three planeloads full..all were confiscated. He was so determined that the 4th plane get there...he got on the plane himself. The plane crashed killing all onboard. So he's not a hero because he died he's a hero because of why he got onboard.
Brad's favorite hero in the book is his mom Teri whose love and support never wavered even when Brad thought his literary career was ending.
"I called her up terrified and said mom this is it. It's over. She said I'd love you if you were a garbage man. My mom passed away 2 years ago from breast cancer and it's the reason I finished the book. It made me say don't save the nice words for the eulogy."
52 heroes. 52 stories. 52 reminders that anything is possible.
" The most important pages in the book are the last two pages. They're blank and say "your hero's photo here and story here. When you put your mom, dad, grandfather or grandmother's picture and write one line about why they are a hero that will be the most beautiful page of the entire book."
Heroes For My Son, which is Brad Meltzer's first non-fiction book, is currently on the New York Times bestsellers list.
His daughter Lila reminds him everyday that she is waiting for
him to write another one.
So expect Heroes For My Daughter in the future.
Brad's 8th novel is due out in January.
©2007 The E.W. Scripps Co. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.
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