Heroes aren’t just characters in books—they’re also real-life people who blaze trails, do amazing things, and put others’ needs before their own. Their superpowers include kindness, bravery, self-reliance, love, and plain-old awesomeness. We asked BookCon authors to tell us who they look to for inspiration.

Who is your hero?

Soman Chainani
(The School for Good and Evil #5: A Crystal of Time)
Every kid who can resist the pull of Fortnite or Instagram and lose themselves in a book.

Eva Chen
(A Is for Awesome and Juno Valentine and the Magical Shoes)
All the moms out there who are getting it done and raising their children. And Oprah, always Oprah.

Cassandra Clare
(Chain of Gold)
My mother, for all the support she gave me while I was struggling to become a professional writer.

Sabrina Jeffries
(Project Duchess)
Jane Austen, among others. She chose a single life rather than marry a rich man she didn’t love, and she wrote uncompromisingly of what she observed in her society without turning her books into political treatises. Plus, she was funny! I always admire writers who can be really funny. It’s hard work.

Meg Medina
(Merci Suárez Changes Gears)
The world is full of heroes, some of them kids. It’s so easy to focus on people doing dastardly and selfish things. But think of the people helping migrants. Think of people working on reconciliation worldwide. Think of teachers who insist on teaching at schools with the highest needs. These are the people who think beyond their own benefit. They are everywhere, and thank God for them.

Marissa Meyer
My Uncle Bob, who is this super cool guy that everyone loves, and he also happens to be a huge Trekkie and an unapologetic nerd. For years there was this lingering stigma against “geeky” things, which was tough when I was that weird kid in school who played Dungeons & Dragons and read manga, but Uncle Bob showed me that displaying your passions is part of what makes a person awesome.

Alyssa Milano
(Project Middle School)
Alice Paul, Gloria Allred, Erin Brokovich, Gloria Steinem, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Angela Davis, Coretta Scott King, Audrey Hepburn.

Daniel José Older
(The Book of Lost Saints)
All the young people across the globe who have stood up to end state violence and institutionalized oppression.
R.J. Palacio
(White Birds)
Greta Thunberg, a Swedish 16-year-old activist on the rise.

Rainbow Rowell
(Pumpkinheads and Wayward Son)
Climate activists.

Adam Savage
(Every Tool’s a Hammer: Life Is What You Make It)
Richard Feynman. One of the most polymathic scientists that ever existed, but also a person not only deeply committed to looking at and solving some of the deepest mysteries the universe has to offer, but also deeply committed to being able to explain them to anybody.

Raina Telgemeier
I so admire creators who go through tragic events, life or death circumstances, and come out with pen in hand ready to write or draw. My friend Brian Fies lost his home in the Santa Rosa fires a few years ago, and just hours after his house burned down, he had begun writing the comic that would turn into A Fire Story. He processed the experience in real time in a way that became shareable, and the resulting book is a true gift.