Don Riling, GSBA member and owner of Olympic Hot Tub, has been a comic book lover and self-proclaimed “super hero geek” since his teenage years and now in adulthood, has found himself the author of a superhero themed novel: Myriad—The Rise of a Superhero! We recently sat down with Don and the inspiration for his novel, pro cosplayer Michael Hamm, to chat about the path to being a published author. In an all too familiar start—Don was forced to close his business when the pandemic hit in 2020.
“I had a mini meltdown, to be honest, I didn’t know what was going to happen”. He said, “I was sort of looking for a creative outlet to keep myself from going crazy.”
Don found himself following Canada-based Michael Hamm’s cosplay channels on social media, and eventually connected directly with him, even using Michael as a model for an Olympic Hot Tub photoshoot and bonding over their shared love of superheroes and Disney. “It started out just me giving him creative input, how he could maybe market himself a bit, since that’s what I do, but then a few months later, I had this idea for a book.”
Michael, however, was skeptical. “I thought to myself- Don is so incredibly busy. There’s no way he has time to write a book!” Michael said. “And then months went by and he didn’t send me anything, so I thought it was just talk, ya know?”
The book took about seven months to write from idea to final product and it wasn’t until Don surprised Michael with the finished cover art, that Michael really believe it was happening. “He showed me this artwork, and I was just like, wow, you were serious this whole time!”
The book itself is a work of fiction, chronicling a cosplayer (based on Hamm) who gains superpowers through a mystical artifact juxtaposed against a story from the past that gives a peek into the history of the gay rights movement. “It’s a really great book. It’s just so weird to me that it’s *me*, ya know? And Don knows me well enough now that the character really seems like me.” Michael said.
“If he says something, it gets logged in the back of my mind.” Don laughed “He has to be careful”.
When asked if there might be a sequel in the works, Don smiled. “I already have the idea…I just have to find the time to make it happen.”
Myriad- Rise of a Superhero is available now at https://store.bookbaby.com/book/myriad.
To learn more about Michael Hamm, follow his Instagram or visit his Patreon page.
About the book: Marcel creates jewelry while his alter ego—Melodie—works as a drag queen at the Stonewall Inn in Greenwich Village. Marcel creates a remarkable piece of jewelry, a pendant, to hold the ruby-red gem, a family heirloom said to contain magical powers. Melodie is wearing the new piece the night that she and her fellow drag queens are caught up in the famous Stonewall Riot, when police raided the bar and marked the official start of the Gay Rights Movement in the 1960s.
Everything changes for Michael Hamm—a professional cosplayer and sought-after guest at Comic-Cons across the country over fifty years later when he makes the discovery of a lifetime. Michael is unwittingly transformed into a new superhero—Myriad, entering an entangled web of deceit and danger—as Madame Beatriz, a witch from New Orleans, takes extreme measures to pursue the cosplayer to regain her rightful inheritance. In an effort to learn more about Marcel/Melodie, Michael encounters various players from the drag queen’s past as well as Travis and Slade, a gay couple that are somehow involved in Beatriz’s quest.
This page-turner will marvel readers as they embark on a journey into the world of Comic-Cons, superheroes, and drag queens.