Recently I was asked which book or author inspired me the most when I was a child or teen. What did I read that made me say, “Wow, I want to be able to do THIS when I grow up!”
The answer was pretty easy.
Robin McKinley, without a doubt, was the first writer who inspired me to think about the world in a different way. In the third grade, I won a spelling bee, and the prize was a choice between The Hero and the Crown and some pink girly book, and since it was an older boy who got 2nd place, and then me who won, the teacher thought that she had it all figured out. She THOUGHT I would pick the pink book. Well… you know me. I can never be EASY. “Oh, that dragon book is too hard for you.” Heh. I devoured that thing in two days and never looked back. I reread the part where Aerin slays the dragon over and over. Every time I read it, through every phase of my life, I get something new out of it. I know parts of it by heart, and even so, things still surprise me.
My childhood was filled with Ursula K. LeGuin, Diana Wynn Jones, JRR Tolkien, Peter Beagle, and Lloyd Alexander. They taught me to look for the magic in the world, and when I couldn’t find any, to make some up for myself. I started creating stories about people going on quests, people discovering what is most important, people sacrificing what is most dear to them for the greater good.
Now that my son is older, I really enjoy sharing these stories with him. We still read together every single night. We’ve read many of L Frank Baum’s Oz books, The Hobbit, The Chronicles of Prydain. Next he wants to tackle Alice in Wonderland and Harry Potter. The fun thing is that he is starting to write stories of his own.
I’m forever grateful to both my third grade teacher and Robin McKinley for introducing the world of fantasy to me. It wasn’t until just a few years ago that I wondered whatever happened to that poor boy who got stuck with the pink book…
What books or authors have inspired you in some way?