HONK IF YOU HATE ME is a book about secret identities, about the wish to be greater than who you are, about the need to feel like you’re more than the schlup that the outside world sees. Kind of puts you in the mind of superheroes, doesn’t it?
Think Superman. Think Batman. Think Wonder Woman.
Whether you’re a teen trying to survive school or a grown-up trying to survive the “real world”, who doesn’t want to be a superhero? You can be the biggest geek (ahem, Clark Kent?), you can be the stodgiest businessman (or would you call yourself a playboy, Bruce Wayne?), you can be the sissiest rank-and-file goodie two-shoes in the entire army (ring familiar, Diana Prince?), and it won’t matter a single iota because you know that inside, under that bulging backpack, that wrinkled suit, that starched-and-pressed uniform lurks a being more powerful, more intelligent, and waaaaaay more gorgeous than any other human alive. Appealing, isn’t it? It is to me, and so it is to the characters in HONK IF YOU HATE ME.
One thing I’ve always loved about reading is coming across books that give you more than just the main story. So that’s how I write my own stories, with layers in the storytelling, such as symbolism or cultural references that add dimension for those who catch them but that aren’t required for those who wish to just enjoy the main story at hand. I deliberately plant little treasures, maybe in a character’s name or in his/her favorite possession or choice of clothing, things for readers to find the second, third, even fourth time around if they are inclined to give my books that much attention. I try to write the kinds of books I want read, and I want to read stories that are more than they first appear. Much like a superhero.
So I’ve peppered references to superheroes throughout HONK IF YOU HATE ME, with the brooding Dark Knight being my favorite hero to exploit. If you want to have some extra fun with my story of Monalisa Kent, see how many Batman references you can spot. Some are obvious, some not-so-obvious, which is as it should be. After all, Mona’s story is about looking at people just a little bit deeper.