I was a reader of fantasy long before I was a writer of it. Oh, sure, I have a notebook in a drawer somewhere where ten-year-old me started a story about a queen giving birth to a prince on a stormy night, but really growing up for me it was all about reading books not writing them.
My earliest reading memory is of A Wrinkle in Time. If you asked me what the plot was, who the characters were, or anything else, I wouldn’t be able to tell you. I just know that A Wrinkle in Time is the first book I actually remember reading and loving. I found it at the little small town library. (Can you believe a town of 100 people actually had a library at all? Crazy, but it did.)
Next I remember the summer I spent reading all the Oz books. It was the summer before 4th grade and once a week my mom would take us to the book store and I’d get to buy the next Oz book. I still have them somewhere. Loved them. And that memory of waiting with anticipation to go and get the next one stays with me. (That and my collecting fuzzy stickers that summer. The things we spend money on…Better than that period where my friends and I would create eraser dust and collect it.)
After that I found David Eddings, again at the local library. I read his entire Belgariad series in a weekend. (Why I was given a “Shhh, I’m reading” bookmark for Christmas that year, I suspect.)
And then I discovered the Science Fiction Book Club. Talk about heaven! I ordered so many books from them it was ridiculous. And found writers I probably never would have otherwise. Like Mercedes Lackey and Anne McCaffrey and Stephen R. Donaldson.
That didn’t keep me away from real book stores of course. I spent my sixth grade year reading the collected works of H.G. Wells from this beautiful leather-bound book we bought at the bookstore for some insanely cheap price like $10.
I kept my love of books and reading through high school. I still remember with fondness how my friend’s mom bought me three of Isaac Asimov’s robot books when she found out I hadn’t heard of him yet. (I have less fondness for her opinions of how I held a fork and my lack of appreciation for opera.)
And I kept that love of books in college. I had the joy of working at a bookstore for two years and we could borrow books to read. Oh, how fun! To be a broke college student but still be able to read whatever you wanted to?
I remember I read something like five books during finals week one year. I’d make myself a deal, study for half an hour, you can read for fifteen. Of course, fifteen was never enough.
One of my co-workers there turned me on to Melanie Rawn. That’s also where I read one of the Game of Thrones books for the first time as a free ARC.
Even after college books were there for me. Seven or eight years ago a co-worker turned me on to China Mieville’s works. I loved how crazy imaginative he was.
There are so many good books out there. Old and new. Just this year I discovered the works of Robin Hobb for the first time.
So many great authors with so many great twists on reality. I could read forever and still have more great books to read.
Always, year after year, fantasy writing has nourished and sustained me. It’s let me know that anything is possible and helped me escape those times when real-life was maybe just a little too painful.
Reading is one of the few pleasures that lets me completely turn off my brain and relax for just a little while. Without it I’m not sure I’d be as relatively sane and stable as I am. (A fact some might argue with, especially those who know me best.)
Oh, sure. There were other books in other genres. As a reader how could I not branch out and try new books and new experiences? But fantasy…fantasy is where the heart and soul of it is for me.