I read Heidi in the summer before first grade. I asked my parents “What does this word mean?” a dozen times before I finished reading the first page. My dad gave me a dictionary and told me, if I didn’t know a word, look it up. Which I did. Then looked up words I didn’t know in the definitions of words I had to look up in the first place. By the time I finished the book, I had absolutely no idea what the hell happened in it, but I had a much stronger vocabulary to show for my efforts.
During elementary school, I spent every day after school in the library. I rarely used the card catalogue (yeah, that’s what we used back then), rather started at one end of a row and read through it until I was finished. One day when I was 10 or 11, I ran out of reading material at home and turned to my mother’s bookshelf for something to tide me over. I was in the mood for an easy read, so chose the thinnest volume on her shelves. Which turned out to be Nine and a Half Weeks. Yep, I read what was quite possibly the most popular BDSM novel in the pre-50 Shades era before I hit puberty. After that, my taste in literature favored dominant, male villains. Though I rarely read books without a female heroine.
Through middle and high school, I spent my lunch period in the library. Even when I went to the mall, it was to browse the horror and fantasy sections of B. Dalton Bookseller. After a time, I was reading a book a day. At $8.99 a pop. While my parents tried to support my reading habit as best they could, one day my father told me, “You’re breaking me, B. Instead of reading all of these books, why don’t you try writing one?”
As it were, there was a certain type of story I was searching for–with a certain type of character–that I never could quite find on the shelves. If you are an author, you know the one. The one you end up writing.