My origin story

I won't be seeing the new "Man of Steel" movie, mostly because it's the origin story all over again. Is there anyone in America above the age of six who doesn't know the story of a baby sent from a dying planet to Earth, where he had superhuman powers and became the greatest superhero ever?

Filmmakers seem to think they need to start from scratch each time. How many times have we seen the origin story of Superman? Spider-Man? The Hulk? Perhaps the directors feel the previous movies got it wrong, but more likely they stick with the origin story because it's easier to start at the beginning. Plus, everyone can relate to the story of where a person came from and how it shaped the eventual adult.

My own origin story bears a surprising number of similarities to Superman's story (not counting the whole illegal-alien-from-a-dying-planet angle).

My superpower was reading. I started reading at the age of 3, and was a major pain to my early-grade teachers because I already knew how to read well. Teachers soon learned to feed me library books to keep me quiet while the others were trying to learn.

Like Superman, I grew up in a small town. In Sheridan, Ark., a tidy brick library stood next to the courthouse square. My mother took me there every week and let me check out as many books as I could carry. She even insisted that the elderly librarians let me read books in the "Adult" section (such risque fare as Leslie Charteris and Mickey Spillane). About the time I'd exhausted that library, we moved to a nearby city with a bigger library. I was all set.

At Pine Bluff High School, I worked on the school newspaper. I quickly decided on journalism as a career, just like Clark Kent, and went to work for the Arkansas Gazette right out of high school. The editors and reporters there, and the ones at The Associated Press, where I worked for nearly 10 years, shaped me as a writer and beat a lot of stupidity out of me.

Encouraged by my wife Kelly (a former journalist who bears absolutely no resemblance to Lois Lane), I started trying to write fiction when I was 30. For a decade, I worked at the Albuquerque Journal and wrote fiction in my spare time, while also helping raise our two sons. Those were the superhuman years. When I turned 40, Kelly sprung me from full-time journalism, and I've been writing fiction from home ever since.

I've published more than 25 books over the past 20 years and have a couple more in the pipeline. Most days, I can't wait to get to work on whatever new one I'm writing.

And that feels super, man.