My superpower is chasing squirrels. Not the fuzzy kind, the mental kind. I’m an “ooh, shiny!” kind of girl, but it’s not Tiffany’s bling that catches my eye, it’s usually something on the History Channel, or a footnote on Wikipedia, or a stray reference that I chase down “for authenticity’s sake.”
It starts out as a noble cause. After all, as a writer, it’s important to fact-check. That’s dangerous when you’re the kind of person who can go to the dictionary to look up a word and not come up for air for an hour because you’ve hopped from one interesting new word to another. Fact checking is like that, too. I go out to look something up, and there’s a hyperlink to something that looks interesting, and –squirrel!–I keep reading, and then I click again, and again. By the time I look up, I’d need a trail of bread crumbs to find my way back, but I’ve found some amazing new trivia.
The reason I consider my squirrel chases to be a superpower is that they’ve led to some of my best ideas. Those intriguing links can take me places I would never have found on my own, and often, the elusive answer I was searching for shows up as I go from link to link. When I get stuck on a point when I’m writing, I go looking for squirrels, starting on a related site and intentionally following a winding path of links until the light goes on in my head and serendipity strikes.
The power of squirrel lets my brain relax a bit so that it doesn’t seize up worrying about not finding the answer. Squirrels also have the superpower to get into locked birdhouses and climb impossible surfaces to get what they want. I’m not that acrobatic, but figuratively speaking, I am inspired by squirrel-like tenacity and adaptability. Squirrels are also courageous. They jump from limb to limb, and very rarely fall, even when the branch under them sways wildly. They’re not so good at crossing busy streets, but then again, neither am I.
Reign of Ash, book two in the Ascendant Kingdoms Saga launches in April, 2014 from Orbit Books. My new urban fantasy, Deadly Curiosities, comes out in July, 2014 from Solaris Books. I bring out two series of ebook short stories with a new story every month for just .99 on Kindle, Kobo and Nook—check out the Jonmarc Vahanian Adventures or the Deadly Curiosities Adventures.