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I've always been picky about heroes. Like most American males, I've always admired athletes, particularly basketball players. I admired Julius Erving and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar not only for their athletic abilities, but for who they seemed to be off the court. They seemed to be spiritual, compassionate, and gracious people. Neither has done nor said anything over the years to contradict my image of them.

Unlike many American males, I always admired writers as much as I admired athletes. I loved books and the people who wrote books. John Steinbeck was one of my earliest heroes because he wrote about the poor. Stephen King became a hero because he wrote so well of misfit kids, the nerds and geeks. Growing up on my reservation, I was a poor geek, so I had obvious reasons to love Steinbeck and King. I still love their novels, but I have no idea if they were/are spiritual, compassionate, and gracious men. There is so much spirit, compassion, and grace in their work, I want to assume that Steinbeck and King were/are good people. I would be terribly disappointed to find out otherwise. . . .

Most of my heroes are just decent people. Decency is rare and underrated. I think my writing is somehow just about decency. Still, if I was keeping score, and I like to keep score, I would say the villains in the world are way ahead of the heroes. I hope my writing can help even the score. 


From Laura Baratto, "On Tour: Writers on the Road with New Books." Hungry Mind Review Summer 1995: 22