It started when I got this hankering to go back to ANNE OF GREEN GABLES, which was hands down one of my very favorite series for many years when I was young.
I still have the books - they're on a bookshelf containing many of my old besties, waiting patiently for the day my daughter may want to read them. (My son's tastes definitely do not run toward that kind of voice -- he's more of a Star Wars, Percy Jackson, and Origami Yoda guy. And he loves Roald Dahl. MAYBE I can get him to read Sammy Keyes. I love the books he loves too - but they're definitely not Anne. He's among the primary reasons I write MG, but that's the subject of another post)
When I pulled the book off the shelf, it made that delicious sound. You know, the one a hardback book makes when it slides out from between other hardback books? That scrapey, soft sound of anticipation. As I felt the weight of the book fall into my hand I had the SAME FEELING. The one I had all those times I read it as a young girl, the feeling of deep content. I was hanging out with a person I loved, living in her world, talking and acting a little like her - kind of on purpose and kind of because I couldn't help myself. She's why I always wanted to be a red head.
These books in particular hold a special place in my heart because I bought them myself. I found them in a bookstore and begged my stepfather to buy them all for me because the library only carried the first three of the eight books. He did buy them -- but then made me purchase each one back from him. At the time I thought that was unusual cruelty. I want them now! now! now! But instead, I had to slowly earn the money, babysitting every weekend for months, hoarding dollars and quarters until I could afford a book. Truth told, in spite of my childish impatience, the process made each purchase all the sweeter.
And when I was finally able to fork over the cash and get a new book -
Each purchase merited cozy days of nothing but reading, tucked into a corner of the living room or on my bed, blocking out everything in the world but Anne Shirley and Prince Edward Island.
It's that -- the tucking in and coziness and lost-in-another-world memories -- that fuels my MG writing specifically. The book worm I was and still am today hopes deeply to create and share those exact blissful moments for young book-worms-in-the-making. This is the age when you either learn to love reading, begin to see it as a necessary part of your life, or not. The books they read now - I hope - will be books they return to again and again, like calling up an old friend on the phone to catch up. I want to be one of those old friends.
Other authors that took me to my happy place? Madeleine L'Engle, E.L. Konigsburg, Louisa May Alcott, Maud Hart Lovelace, Laura Ingalls Wilder, E.B. White.
Who are yours? And why do you write?