I was born and raised in east central Pennsylvania. We were rather rural, which meant that public transportation extended as far as the school bus; when cable television finally started being run out into our area, they stopped 100 feet from our property; and most of my friends were too far to walk to see without risking life and limb on roads without shoulders and idiot drivers.
Sometimes, I like to say that I hated reading until I was in high school, but that’s not really true. I distinctly remember the moment I could read, though I can’t remember the book title now. My dad was reading it to me, and suddenly all the black squiggles came into focus and I saw words. And I understood them. And I loved it. I was in kindergarden at the time, and in my elementary school, they would take me to other classes to read my book to the students. (I had no idea they were trying using me to try to get others to read somehow. I just loved showing off what I could do.) Math was a struggle because my brain didn’t work like others and came up with some really odd stuff, but I loved science. I actually read all the books in our set of children’s encyclopedia.
But then they started making us read books for school. And these were not fun books to read, though Shakespeare was rather fun. These were the “classics” that were depressing as hell. There was no explanation on how the story was built. Nothing about the construction. It was all analysis. It was opinion and no one taught us how to defend our opinions. We had to have the “right” opinion.
I couldn’t even get into comic books because they were forever in the middle of some story arc that made no sense to a newbie coming in. Until I discovered the independent graphic novel Elfquest. (I know, it started as a comic, but it was the novels I first saw, grabbed, and fell in love with.) I hated books until our teacher told us to go pick something out in the library and I discovered Anne McCaffery’s Pern series with Dragonsinger and found out there were more. I discovered the multitude of novels of Star Trek that expanded on the series that I watched in the evenings at supper along with other syndicated gems like Bewitched, Mash, and Gilligan’s Island.
I started spending my money on books. And more books. And while the stories were good to great, I started wanting to see certain scenarios played out. But either nobody was writing them, or I couldn’t find them. A $10 allowance a week didn’t go far, even back when books didn’t cost more than $3. So I imagined them in my head. Until I got stuck in a loop of sorts that I could only get past when I wrote it down. Writing, however, wasn’t a “real” job in my family. I couldn’t figure out what I wanted to do, so I enlisted in the U.S. Army to become a Russian linguist. (Sorry, forgotten most of it now. It’s been decades with no one to talk with. Practice matters.)
I eventually met my husband in the same unit I was in. After we were married, we had two kids, and struggled to find our way. My writing took a back seat to survival, and eventually, I went back to college. Earned what I affectionately call a business-technical translator degree and became an IT business analyst. Steven Brust became my inspiration with his wonderful irreverent style and atypical stories and I have been writing much more regularly ever since.
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