Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Where Addiction Begins

A good book can be the start of a lifelong addiction. After reading Amanda Arista's blog post, I started thinking about what I was reading when I was a kid and whether it lead me to where I am now (which is working on the revisions for the first book in my new series).

I have admit that I don't think I started out reading anything particularly out of the ordinary for my age. I've been an avid reader for as long as I could remember. When I was in elementary school, I read every Beverly Cleary, Judy Blume, and E.B. White book I could lay my hands on. I read about Fudge, Ramona, and Stuart Little. These books were light and dealt with just the normal everyday things a kid faced such as annoying little brothers, bullies, and tests at school, folded in with the occasional talking animal (because we all wished our pets could talk).

In the fifth grade, I stumbled across a book called My Brother Sam Is Dead, which focuses on a family that was trying to survive the Revolutionary War. It was my first really serious book and I remember reading it a couple times. This seemed to be a turning point for me as the light-hearted books that I read before no longer seemed as appealing.

Fast-forward a couple years to Saturday visits to the library with my father. It was the highlight of every weekend. I would get an enormous stack of books and carry them down to a table on the main floor where I would read while waiting for my dad to make his selections. It wasn't long before I moved to the, then, very small young adult section. It was there that I found Robin McKinley's The Outlaws of Sherwood. I loved the story! I loved the images of Sherwood forest and the heroic tales and struggles of Robin Hood. But something wasn't right. I felt like the story was missing something. So, not long after finishing the story, I started writing my own version of Robin Hood. It was the first book that I finished writing. I still have it packed away somewhere with a few other old dreams. McKinley's Robin Hood was quickly followed by Parke Godwin's Sherwood and Robin and the King.

From Robin Hood, I found myself introduced to both the fantasy and romance genres at the same time by some friends. I think at that point, the die was cast. My fate was sealed. I needed the fantastic, the drama and action, with a nice splash of romance to make all the struggle and pain worthwhile.

So, to Cleary, White, Blume, McKinley, Godwin, and so many authors over the years that have helped to mold (and warp) me, I say thank you. Thank you for feeding my addiction to writing. Thank you for filling my imagination for countless hours at a time. Thank you for my addiction to the written word. Thank you for characters that have made me laugh and cry. Thank you for years of fun.

And now my question of you, what books filled your childhood? Are there any books that you would love to pass down to your kids, grandkids, nieces, and nephews?


Dawn said...

I started out very young devouring Dr. Suess books, so I had a love of crazy and fantastic worlds to begin with. I did read Beverly Cleary, Little House on the Prairie, Nancy Drew, and all the typical young girl books, but I was always drawn to fairy tales and myths. I read every fairy tale compilation and myth collection in the local library. I absolutely sobbed when Aslan died in The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe. It was the first book that both filled me with wonder and tugged my emotions. That sent me searching for more fantasy and I found Andre Norton and JRR Tolkien and Lloyd Alexander. And finally, I read Dragonflight by Anne McCaffrey when I was nine, and that set me on the path of SF and Fantasy (with a little romance for spice). And resulted in an apartment packed to the ceiling with books. LOL

Barbara said...

I read many of the same books as you littered with Nancy Drew and Encyclopedia Brown....then stole my Grandmother's Harlequin Romances..cause she said I couldn't read them..:)...I think a big turning point for me as a Tween was discovering Piers Anthony and his xanth Series..that opened the door to Fantasy..and I have never looked back. So I would definitely introduce the young people in my life to this series.

Kimberly said...

Even as a young girl I loved romance and myth. Beauty and the Beast, Snow White, and anything in the Greek and Roman Mythologies were welcome. I loved vampires, ghosts and witches. At a tender 13 yrs of age, V.C. Andrews "Flowers" series put the dark and warped garnish on my reading habits. Now you stir all that in a pot and come out with Dark Urban which happily rocks my world.

jfort357 said...

I remember what got me hooked on reading was R.L. Stine's Fear Street series & Flowers in the Attic by V.C. Andrews. Loved dark mysteries in my younger years. Now I've evolved into a paranormal romance reader!! :-)

Cylver said...

I have to say that I don't think I've ever been completely rooted in reality when it comes to my reading choices! The series that really got me hooked on reading was The Chronicles of Narnia when I was nine. I remember loving a book called A Candle in Her Room, about several generations of one family, and a strange and evil doll. There was also a book called The Silver Crown, about a girl who discovers a plot to turn children into robotic killers and arsonists. My father turned me on to science fiction when he gave my his copy of The Foundation Trilogy, and in high school I discovered Stephen King and Anne Rice!
Is it any wonder that my favorite heroes all have either fangs or fur?

Sharon said...

I didn't do a lot of reading in Elementary school, but in Middle School I found "Flowers in the Attic" and then moved on to Stephen King . I discovered UF and PNR in the last few years.

unseelieme said...

I was a young reader. My sister and I used to walk to the library every Saturday when she was 6 and I was 5, and hang out there shelving books and helping out behind the counter. My favorite book from childhood is This Room is Mine (about 2 sisters who share a room). I also loved The Best Loved Doll.

I think by the time I hit first grade, I'd read most of the books there. Other favorite books - Lark, Linnette, Mistress Malapert, Jade. Series - Trixie Belden, The Hardy Boys, The Three Investigators, and The Chronicles of Narnia.

I grew up in rural VT, so I lived in books.

I was reading at a 6th grade level in 1st grade & by 3rd grade I was reading at 12th grade level. At 11 yrs. old, I started sneaking my mother's harlequins and my father's horror books.

My sister became a children's librarian - no big surprise there. I got my degree in journalism.