I can remember one of the first times that I knew I wanted to be a writer. I was young- I’m going to guess around 11 or 12. I was at the library and had gathered my weekly haul full of Choose Your Own Adventure books and possibly a Judy Blume or two. I was waiting for my mom and I wandered into the adult section of the library. I pulled a Stephen King book off the shelf- Salem’s Lot. Think Our Town meets Dracula. On a whim, I added it to my stack and went downstairs to check out.
Our hometown librarian was a serious woman with almost no lips at all that she would keep pressed into a thin pale line. She must have saved millions on lipstick. She took the books from me and then held out the King book as if I had handed her a warm bag of dog poop. “You don’t want this book,” she said. “This is a nasty book.” Instantly my desire to read this book grew by a factor of a thousand. I turned to my mom for back up. My mom took the book, read the back and then said to me. “This is a scary book. It’s all make believe, but it might be scary. Do you think you can read it and keep in mind that it is pretend?” I assured her given I was now a worldly wise age in the double digits, I could read the book without being scared. My mom gave her approval and to the librarians great dislike I was allowed to get the Stephen King book. I felt very mature as I walked out of the library with my first adult book. To think that I would be scared of a book. Words on paper. Made up stories. Pfffft.
That book scared the pants off of me. I can remember sitting up in bed straining my eyes to see through the dark as I waited for the vampires to come and get me. My ears were trained to a razor sharp awareness as I tried to tell if the sound I heard was the furnace turning off or the soft hot breath of the undead. I knew I couldn’t go into my parent’s room because I had told my mom I wouldn’t be scared. I would have to tough it out on my own.
I knew the book was pretend. I knew that someone, this King fellow, had made all of it up. How could he make something up, and make it so tangible that it felt real? How cool would that be? To make your own world and invite other people inside? To make them feel whatever you wanted them to feel?
In that instant I knew I wanted to be a writer too…. unless the vampires got to me first…