When I think back over all the books I’ve read in my life, none have stuck with me as much as those that I read between the ages of 12 and 17. And I mean that literally. I still have the many of the actual books I read as a teen—not newer replacements.
I’ve taken my books everywhere with me. They’ve been lugged up six floor walk-ups in Manhattan or stuffed into the back of my car as I spent some time driving cross-country, getting hopelessly lost while trying to find myself.
On top of that, I’ve always been a massive sci-fi and fantasy fan. It started with E.T. and Star Wars when I was a little kid, and grew from there. I read the Darkover series by Marion Zimmer Bradley and the Dragonriders of Pern series by Anne McCaffery when I was a ‘tween and got addicted to world building. I really just wanted to spend all day thinking about what it would be like to be able to make a science out of concentrating psychic energy with a crystal, or how awesome it would be to have a dragon.
And then someone told me that fantasy and sci-fi wasn’t cool.
I can’t remember who it was, or if it was more of a group effort from my friends who sincerely wanted me to avoid getting teased, but I do remember hiding my love of the supernatural somewhere around the time when I learned how to apply eyeliner. It’s a shame, really. I wasted a lot of time reading “serious” books that were cool to brandish in coffee shops and whatnot, but I never really devoured them the way I did, say, The Lord of the Rings.
It took me years to unlearn this baloney.
I write for teens because I became passionate about stories when I was one, and if I get really lucky, I might write something that someone loves enough to drag around the world with them, like I did with Douglas Adams’ Hitchhiker’s Guide series. I write supernatural books because I like to think about what it would feel like to fly, or cast a spell, or telepathically be able to talk to a dragon. (I freaking love dragons, btw)
When I was in high school this made me a geek, but in this day and age, liking supernatural or paranormal books isn’t considered geeky at all. In fact, it’s um… cool.
Lucky for us, right?