For local author Marion Jensen, writing a book and running have a lot in common.
“If you go out and run, your body is telling you to stop and give up, and you have to tell it, ‘No. We’re going to keep going,’ ” Jensen said.
This is the same for writing, according to Jensen.
“Not only are you questioning, ‘Can I really do this; can I write at the level I really need to?’ A lot of people are telling you it’s not good enough, and that can be really frustrating,” Jensen said.
Now Jensen not only has overcome the desire to quit running, as he now has a couple of half marathons under his belt, but also is anticipating the release of his fourth book, “Almost Super” (HarperCollins, $14.99, ages 8-11).
The book is targeted for a middle reader audience and hits shelves Tuesday, Jan. 21. It tells of a family of superheroes, the Baileys, who protects common folk from the super villain family across town, the Johnsons. The two main characters, Rafter and Benny Bailey, are young boys in the superhero family.
The story behind Jensen's tale of superheroes came from two sources. The first was bedtime stories with his five boys. He said one night he told the boys a story about the five of them being superheroes, and at the end of the story, they begged and begged for more.
"Kids love to be powerful," Jensen said. "They love to be super, and they love to be important, so they hunger for when adults don't save the day and they do."
At the same time, he was also considering all the protagonists in current children's literature, such as Harry Potter. Many times these underdogs are born into unfavorable circumstances, then one day realize they have powers that could potentially save the world.
From these two sources, he decided to create characters that knew they would be born into a superhero family and have powers and glory, but in a sudden turn of events, that doesn’t quite happen.
In "Almost Super," the two 12-year-old boys are given powers that they didn't quite expect and have to figure out how they are going to contribute to fighting against the bad guys.
“If life doesn’t hand you what you want, then get up and earn it,” Jensen said, in reference to both the boys' experience in the book and his own life experience.
Jensen has learned this expression the hard way. He was 17 years old when he took second place in a writing competition. He won a wooden clock, and he said he would look at that clock and think, “Here’s my prize for being a mediocre writer.”
Jensen gave up his dream of being a writer and got a job working for corporate America. Through this, however, he said his desire to write never faded. He finally started writing again and attending writing conferences to refine his craft. It took him about 10 years to get his material out in the public again.
“People almost always aren’t born with these incredible gifts,” Jensen said. “Even childhood prodigies have spent hours and hours and years and years practicing.”
He now shares this story and message with children in schools and libraries.
“You’re probably not just going to wake up and be good at something, but if you really do enjoy something and are really willing to work at it and put in time for five or 10 years, you can be a master,” Jensen said.
Jensen has written three other books. One is a collection of short stories, and he wrote the other two under the pseudonym Matthew Buckley. He plans to continue writing between the hours of 11 p.m. and 2 a.m. at his home in Farmington while his children are asleep. Jensen anticipates releasing one book every two years.
"Almost Super" contains no foul language or inappropriate scenes. The sequel to "Almost Super" will be released at the end of this year or the beginning of next, according to Jensen.
A release party for "Almost Super" will be held Jan. 23 at The King's English Bookshop in Salt Lake City.
If you go ...
What: "Almost Super" launch party and Marion Jensen book signing
When: Thursday, Jan. 23, 7 p.m.
Where: The King's English, 1511 S. 1500 East, Salt Lake City
Note: Places in the signing line are reserved for those who purchase a copy of the featured book from The King's English.