Thursday, October 27, 2011

A reader's journey with the publishing industry

My journey as a reader started with my parents, as is the case with a lot of people. More specifically, it started with my Dad. He used to gather my sister and I up onto the bed, pull out this book we loved that was filled with fables and folklore and read to us while we listened in ore. That's when I fell in love with the written word.

My favourite story he used to read to me was Brer Rabbit and the Tar Baby. I loved the ending, how the rabbit managed to outsmart the fox. "Please don't throw me in the briar patch."

Then as I got older I craved more. In primary school (middle grade) I would get a list of books from the book fair and buy whatever I could. One that stuck in my mind is FIFTH GRADE CAN REALLY KILL YOU. It's also when I started reading ghost stories and good old Twistaplots. But I was finding them ultimately unsatisfying, so I started on books for teens (there was no 'YA' at that stage). I remember on called THE TEN CUPCAKE ROMANCE that was about a girl who swears off boys, but dates one for research for a book she's writing. But it still wasn't filling the void.

I moved onto Stephen King (oh the sleepless nights over IT), Virgina Andrews and a bunch of trashy novels from the adult section. I still would try the stories for teens, but they were very short and not always satisfying. At about fifteen I became obsessed with David Eddings and fell in love with one of his characters Sparhawk. High fantasy, such as The Keltiad series, consumed me.

Unfortunately then I left home and went to uni, which meant I was poor and away from my mother's large high fantasy and horror collection. My reading consisted of text books. Luckily in my second year of university I switched courses and got to read short stories and plays as part of my study. But my reading habits had been lost. But my writing habits started. I wrote short stories and play. I wouldn't share them, until I met my first Alpha reader "She-who-must-not-be-named" (she's very shy). She loved my writing and encouraged me to do more.

But I read for my own son, like my father read to me. And when he got old enough to start reading on his own, I started reading his books too. Goosebumps, Deltra Quest and then, Harry Potter. My love of books was reborn. And I noticed something else too. The quality of books that my son was getting to read was far higher then anything that I had gotten when I was his age. The publishing industry had matured to produce engaging adventures that could be loved by all ages. I had tried penning a middle grade book, but it didn't work (it still sits on my computer hoping to become a YA novel eventually).

I keep reading with my son, and my daydreams started running wild. This is when my first YA novel idea hit me. I had no idea it was a YA novel as I hadn't read any and my son was still reading MG books.

I wanted to start reading more as I knew it would help make me a better writer. The first YA I read was the Twilight series, then The Host. I was hooked on YA and paranormal then. My book collection rapidly expanded, being filled with YA titles and adult authors such as Charlaine Harris.

Sometimes I wish that I had the range and depth of books to read as a teenager as the current teens do now. But I still wouldn't swap Sparhawk for the world.

So - what are your favourite childhood books? How have books impacted on your life.


  1. I was a voracious reader as a child and middle-schooler, but when I became a teen, there just weren't any "real" enough books readily available for me, dealing with the issues I was facing, so I fell away from reading for a few years. It's sad, because I think things might have been different if I'd had some novels to love back then. I'm so glad the YA market has exploded, and offers so much to teens now.
    As a child I loved Shel Silverstein and RL Stine spooky books. Also all the Ramona books. Ooh, and remember HOW TO EAT FRIED WORMS? :)

  2. I'm having a ball at the moment, rediscovering books I loved as a child with my sons. We've read the whole Willard Price Adventure series which I adored for years, Roald Dahl, Emil and the Detectives and all the Elizabeth Enright books about the Melendy family. As they get older, I'm looking forward to the classics I loved, Treasure Island and Robinson Crusoe among them.

    Books saved me as a child. We moved to a new country every two years or so, and books remained my trusty friends even while I left my real ones behind.

  3. My favorite childhood books were the Dragonlance series and the Pern series (yay for high fantasy!) But they're adult books. In fact, back then all the books I enjoyed were adult. You're right, teen books have come a long way and the genre is amazing now.

  4. I feel like I could have written this post. I totally got into Harry Potter, Narnia, LOTR and many others through my son. I used to read to him for hours and ended up having to sneak his books when he wasn't looking.

    When I was a teen, I read Sweet Valley High novels, Judy Blume, Beverly Cleary and a few others, but supplemented that with trashy novels by Judith Krantz, Jackie Collins, V.C. Andrews, and more. It was hard to find a middle ground between cheesy goodie-goodie novels and total trash. I remember Waiting Games and Sooner or Later by Carole and Bruce Hart found a happy medium, but yeah, YA in the 80s was rather pathetic.

    I'm so glad my son has had Brian Jacques, Eoin Colfer, Anthony Horowitz, and of course books like the Hunger Games to read. He likes Jodi Picoult *pukes a little* but you can't win them all.