Saturday, September 3, 2011

Origins of an Urban Panther

The dear Karina Cooper was recollecting books that she remembered from childhood on Twitter. I remembered how liberating it felt to start picking out my own books. I have always been drawn the to the weird and strange and the not quite normal. Three stood out for me and explain VOLUMES of why I am so very strange and probably write in the genre that I write.

The Never Ending Story by Michael Ende. According to my mother, I read the book before I saw the movie because it was one of her favorites as well. We have this original edition in red and green that is fully illustrated, which is why I picked it up in the first place. With its fantastical elements and evil emissaries of the Nothing, you’d think that would be all the explanation that I need to explain why I write about big evil black monsters with green eyes.

Gmork from The Never-Ending Story

Violet from Diaries of an Urban Panther

I think not.

But I think what influenced me more is that it is so very meta. It’s about you reading a book about a kid reading a book about another kid whose having an adventure. Hello Inception. That’s probably the reason why my main character is a horror writer and understands that she is will survive this by using her horror movie skills.

The next series that probably explains a lot is the Blossom Culp series by Richard Peck. I only remember three, but I devoured the books about the girl who could see ghosts and would switch bodies with them. I read them over and over and over. God, I wanted to be a telepath after that. I remember trying to enhance my psychic abilities and I’m pretty sure I checked out a book from the library called You are Psychic just to see if I could be Blossom Culp. It didn’t work but it opened up a section of the library that would be very influential in all the other research I’d need to do about werewolves and fairies later on.

My personal favorite and one that I still buy every kid that I know of even now: Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark by Alvin Schwartz. I LOVED these, mostly because they scared the bejebus out of my little brother as I would read them to him late at night.
What? Mom told me to spend time with my little brother and I did. The short scary stories are nothing spine tingling now, but definitely got me on the path to being a story teller and were a gateway book to Dean Koontz and Bentley Little later on.

After thinking about this, I can understand why I write in this particular genre: my brain seems hardwired for it. These are the stories that I went for instead of the Babysitter's Club.

What did you read as a little kid? Are there suspicious trends that you can see?


Anonymous said...

OMG I absolutely loved Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark! And, of course, The Never Ending Story is a classic. I read a ton of R.L. Stine as well, but I made the leap to Stephen King and Dean Koontz fairly early in life. Still love them both (and many many others now, hehe).

Thanks for the trip down memory lane. :D

rhomitz said...

I never read Never Ending Story but I loved the movie. I didn't know their was a book but now that I know I will check it out. Thanks! My childhood was in the 70's and early 80's, not giving away my age to much huh, lol. I read the Ramona series and books like that and as I got older I read Nancy Drew, Hardy Boys, Sweet Valley High, etc. Boy these books bring back ALOT of memories, thanks!

Unknown said...

Encyclopedia Brown then Nancy Drew, Bobsey Twins, Little Women, Hardy Boys to name a few:)..I loved books..when I was about 11 I started "borrowing" my Grandmother's Harlequin Romances..and never looked back LOL...

Emily Tardy said...

Sadly, I wasn't a fan of reading til about 2 years ago... But I'm making up for all the reading I missed

Bonnie said...

I used to read James and the Giant Peach, From the Mixed up files of Mrs Basil E Frankwelder, and Steven King & Flowers in the Attic in Jr High school.

Sharon Stogner said...

I love The Never Ending Story! Now I have the song in my head . I didn't read much as a little kid, once I did it was straight to the horror/ghost stuff.