An interview about Jessica Warrior: The Heartbeat Hero, presented in partnership* with Brian Thalhammer and The Children’s Book Review.
In this captivating interview, we delve into the extraordinary world of Jessica Warrior: The Heartbeat Hero with author Brian Thalhammer. Inspired by the resilience of his fiancée, Taylor Graham-Worden, who battles a rare heart condition, Thalhammer introduces us to Jessica, a 12-year-old with a similar struggle and an audacious dream of becoming a superhero. The narrative takes an intriguing turn when a mystical artifact intertwines with Jessica’s life-saving medical device, propelling her into a journey of self-discovery and empowerment.
Thalhammer shares insights into Jessica’s character traits, the formation of her superhero team, “The Heartguardians,” and the inclusive themes that make this children’s book exceptional. With interactive elements such as drawing pages and a self-care reflection journal, Thalhammer envisions readers not just following Jessica’s story but actively participating in her universe.
As we explore an enchanting excerpt from the book, Thalhammer emphasizes the universal appeal of Jessica Warrior, breaking down barriers for readers of all backgrounds. The interview concludes with a reflection on the key takeaways, the book’s impact on readers, and Thalhammer’s aspirations for the future of Jessica Warrior and her crime-fighting comrades. Throughout the conversation, Thalhammer’s passion for creating a positive and inclusive narrative shines, echoed in his commitment to donate a portion of proceeds to Children’s Heart Health and Veteran PTSD awareness organizations.
Jessica Warrior: The Heartbeat Hero emerges not just as a thrilling tale but as a beacon of hope, courage, and equality for children from all walks of life. Enjoy the conversation …
Jessica Warrior: The Heartbeat Hero is about a 12-year-old named Jessica Warrior, an ordinary girl with a rare heart condition and an extraordinary dream of becoming a crime-fighting superhero. This story has a personal connection for you. Will you share a bit about who inspired Jessica’s character and where the idea for the story originated?
Brian Thalhammer: Jessica’s character was inspired by my fiance, Taylor Graham-Worden, who was born with a rare heart condition called Long QT. Taylor has survived 5 heart surgeries since she was just 15 years old, and her headstrong determination and fearlessness pushed me to create a character with those same courageous qualities. Tay is no stranger to spending a great deal of time in hospitals and recovery, so I thought that creating a book for kids who can relate would be beneficial and help provide them with another world they can escape to when things might seem scary, lonely, and uncertain.
Jessica discovers her destiny when a mysterious ancient artifact intertwines with her life-saving medical device. Can you tell us a little more about this plot twist without giving any spoilers?
Of course. Being that Jessica Warrior has a heart condition, she needs a defibrillator surgically inserted near her heart to help it function properly. While this is a pretty standard medical procedure, what isn’t so normal is that this specific medical device has somehow gained the ability to give its owner superhuman powers. Rumors say it has something to do with an ancient civilization, but readers will have to get through the book to find out the whole truth.
Empowered with newfound strength, agility, and healing abilities, Jessica embarks on a heroic journey, using her compassion, bravery, and determination to protect her city from menacing villains, inspiring hope and courage among its citizens while balancing the everyday toils of doctor appointments, school, and friends. Tell us more about Jessica’s character traits (her superpowers) and why you think they make great themes for a children’s book.
The ultimate idea is that while Jessica Warrior has her own medical difficulties, it isn’t something that hinders her from being the best version of herself. Her powers are harnessed through her heart, and while she has the ability to defeat villains by using super-strength and pulsating waves of power, she still deals with the same everyday struggles as any other kid facing the challenges of life. I think these ideas make for a great theme because any child, whether disabled, ill, or completely healthy, can resonate with a (relatively) normal kid like Jessica Warrior.
Are there any additional themes in the story that you’d like to touch on?
Readers should be excited to learn about Jessica’s team of superhero sidekicks, “The Heartguardians,” who are made up of friends whose mission is to safeguard the city of Brightville, each member utilizing their unique abilities and upholding the values of compassion, justice, and unity. The team features Marcus, a skilled martial artist who has lost his eyesight yet fights with a fierce sense of justice by listening to the world around him; Maya, who was born with a rare disease that limits her to a wheelchair, but yet she is a brilliant inventor with a knack for gadgets; and Carlos, a deaf and compassionate healer with the ability to mend both physical and emotional wounds.
Together, The Heartguardians form a tight-knit team, united by their shared purpose. Each member brings their own strengths and perspectives to the table, and they quickly discover that their diversity is their greatest asset.
With interactive drawing pages and a self-care reflection journal included, how do you imagine readers engaging with your book? What do you visualize when you imagine a child with your book in their hands?
If you know a kid who needs to stay busy, Jessica Warrior is a great option. I wanted this book to offer extra benefits to the reader, so I included multiple prompts for drawing and a self-care journal at the end of the book for times when kids might need to reflect and write down how they feel. I think this is a good way to process emotions, especially for those who spend a lot of time at doctor appointments or in recovery. In many children’s books, kids are able to comfortably follow along with the story. With Jessica Warrior, they can actually become a part of her universe. When I see this book in a child’s hands, I see someone determined to put positivity, hope, courage, and equality before all else.
Do you have a favorite excerpt from the story that you’d like to share with us?
“Their journey took them across continents, from ancient libraries to sacred temples, following the breadcrumbs left by the Order. Finally, their pursuit led them to a remote island shrouded in mist and guarded by treacherous waters. Legends spoke of this place as the sanctuary of the Order, where a Heartstone was said to be kept. As Jessica and Lily set foot on the island, a palpable energy enveloped them, tingling with anticipation. They navigated through dense jungles, overcoming perilous trials and deciphering ancient riddles. At the heart of the island, they discovered a hidden chamber adorned with intricate carvings and bathed in an otherworldly glow. In the center, atop a pedestal, rested one of the legendary Heartstones—an iridescent heart-shaped gem pulsating with mesmerizing light.
As Jessica reached out to touch the Heartstone, a surge of energy coursed through her, connecting her to the very essence of her powers. Visions flashed before her eyes, revealing a lineage of extraordinary individuals who had harnessed the Heartstone’s power throughout the ages. The truth became clear. Jessica was not just an ordinary girl who stumbled upon powers by accident. She was part of a lineage of heroes, destined to carry the mantle of the Heartbeat Hero and protect the innocent. With the Heartstone in her possession, Jessica felt an immense responsibility settle upon her shoulders. She understood that her powers were not just a gift but a legacy passed down through generations. She vowed to honor that legacy, to use her powers wisely, and to protect those who couldn’t protect themselves.From Jessica Warrior: The Heartbeat Hero
What else should readers know about your story if they haven’t already read it?
While many characters in the story have an illness or disability, this shouldn’t deter kids without ailments from reading Jessica Warrior. This book is for anyone who enjoys strong superhero characters who live to defeat ominous villains and who also love tales filled with action and adventure!
What do you think will be the first impression of Jessica Warrior: The Heartbeat Hero that sticks with readers? An image, a sentence, a paragraph, or a feeling?
I expect readers will gain a strong feeling of attachment and relate to Jessica and The Heartguardians. Those with disabilities and illnesses are underrepresented in children’s literature, especially the superhero genre, so I hope these characters resonate with kids seeking a hero that reminds them of themselves. We all need someone to look up to, and if that person has any of our same qualities, it makes their influence so special.
What do you believe will be the key takeaway that your readers will have after reading the story?
Fight for others and for what is right, keep courage and hope close to your heart, and know that having an illness or disability can’t stop you from being the best version of yourself. You are a powerful force, and nobody can take that away from you, no matter how different you might feel. Some of the most powerful people come from the most unexpected places. Stay positive and keep going.
Is there anything else you’d like to share about Jessica Warrior: The Heartbeat Hero, yourself, or your writing?
Jessica Warrior is the first independently published book of a multi-book series currently in the works, and I’m excited to see where her journey takes her and The Heartguardians. I’m in the process of seeking traditional publishing representation for the rest of the series—it’s been a lot of work to deal with on my own. It would be a dream to see Jessica Warrior: The Heartbeat Hero adapted to the screen, whether that be an animated kid’s television show or a movie.
I truly believe there is a massive market of kids underrepresented in children’s literature, and Jessica Warrior has the ability to become a leading female character in the realm of superheroes. So far, I’ve received extremely wonderful feedback from readers, parents, teachers, and doctors who find Jessica Warrior to be an exciting addition to the world of children’s books. It was a #1 New Release on Amazon, Physicians are stocking them in their waiting rooms, and counselors are ordering them for their clients.
I look forward to the future of Jessica Warrior and her loyal, crime-fighting comrades. I created this book to help kids feel good about themselves, and that’s all that matters to me. Follow along at brianthalhammer.com or on Instagram at original_jessica_warrior.
*Also to note, a portion of all proceeds from the sale of this book will be donated to Children’s Heart Health and Veteran PTSD awareness organizations, two causes very near to my heart.
About the Book
Written by B. Thalhammer
Contributions by Taylor Nicole
Ages 6+ | 140 Pages
Publisher: Independently published | ISBN-13: 9798861510080
Publisher’s Book Summary: In the bustling city of Brightville, there lives Jessica Warrior, an ordinary 12-year-old with a mysterious heart condition who dreams of becoming a crime-fighting superhero. After accidentally receiving a unique medical device containing a hidden ancient artifact, Jessica’s dream suddenly comes true as she realizes a great power is growing within her. With newfound powers of strength, agility, and healing, she inspires others with her compassion, bravery, and ability to save Brightville’s citizens from evil villains.
Balancing her new secret identity with the responsibilities of school, doctor appointments, and surgeries to remedy her medical condition, Jessica faces extreme challenges but remains determined to make a difference. With a dedicated team of fellow super-sidekicks she names The Heartguardians, Jessica becomes an unstoppable inspiration, proving that the most powerful individuals can arise from the most unexpected places. Discover the origin story and follow along as a young patient becomes a butt-kicking heroine in this tale of heart, strength, and pure determination.
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About the Author
Brian Thalhammer, a graduate of Northeastern Illinois University – Chicago, is a multifaceted wordsmith. His expertise spans diverse realms, including crafting compelling Project Proposals, navigating the intricate world of Medical Grant Writing, and delving into the art of Journalism.
Within the realm of editorial finesse, Brian shines as a Copy Editor and a valued contributing writer for a prominent automotive magazine. Brian’s literary prowess extends to the realm of fiction, where he has garnered acclaim as an award-winning novelist and writer. His recent accolade as a 2023 Writer’s Digest Award Winner for his poignant and evocative essay, “Borrowed Beds and Tonka Trucks,” within WD’s celebrated 92nd Annual Writing Competition, speaks volumes of his storytelling craft.
A respected author, Brian has penned impactful works such as “Even Monsters Get Mad: The Coloring Book For Dealing With Your Feelings,” a #1 New Release cherished in the realm of Early Childhood Development. His latest release, “Jessica Warrior: The Heartbeat Hero,” is a story about superheroes who live with disabilities that showcases his narrative aptitude and which is now captivating readers on Amazon.com.
This interview—Brian Thalhammer Talks About Jessica Warrior: The Heartbeat Hero—was conducted between Brian Thalhammer and Bianca Schulze.