Books: Come Ride the Dragon with Me

Q: So, Vicki, why did you write what you call an Urban Fantasy Romance?
Me: I already blogged about that.
Q: You’re a little snarky today.
Me: Maybe. Okay, yeah, I am. My forehead’s bloody—the wall I slammed into working on Chest of Air hurt.
Q: Poor thing. So let’s talk about your childhood.
Me: That should put everyone to sleep.
Q: What books did you love as a kid? You know, ones that influenced your writing.  
Me: Ah, now there’s something I can dig my fangs into.
Q: Clears throat. Back away. Runs.
Me: Silly girl. They’re only virtual… mostly.

Books. (I sigh.) They take you anywhere and anywhen. Reveal anything you wish. Feel anything you want. Come ride the dragon into the past with me.

 Art by Kerem Beyit

Art by Kerem Beyit

In my crib, I slept with my Golden Books or so my mother told me. The Story of Ferdinand was a favorite, as was The Little Engine That Could. But the real treasure trove of my childhood was My Book House. My grandfather’s gift. Twelve volumes of magic and mystery and memory. Even the titles—Through Fairy Halls, The Magic Garden, The Treasure Chest—open imagination’s doors.

 Twelve Volumes of Magic

Twelve Volumes of Magic

Fairy tales, folk legends and fierce adventures. Trolls, elves, and witches. Jonathan Swift, Robert Louis Stevenson, and Rudyard Kipling. India, China, and the Americas. More. I sailed the seas as captain. Climbed glass mountains as a bold knight. Let my Rapunzelian hair down to escape. I read and read and read.

And then I discovered the Greek myths.

 When I was 10, I received these two books, birthday gifts from my parents.

When I was 10, I received these two books, birthday gifts from my parents.

But instead of telling about the books of my childhood and youth, I’ll show you. How? Because I kept my favorites, of course. These aren’t repros, but the original books. My treasures. (Oops—I'm sounding a bit Gollum-ish!) I’ve reread each many times. They don't simply recall memories of childhood—of lands to explore, galaxies to see, and dragons to ride—but let me feel the wind crazy-up my hair, hear the thump-thump-thump of wings, taste the nectar of adventure.

The magic of these books? Ahhh—they're the background symphony for each and every word I write.

  Lost Horizon —swoon. I was twelve.  The Once and Future King— sigh. Thirteen.  Dragonflight —Dragons! Ha! Yes! College. (Note the smexy girl on  Dragonflight 's cover, sideboob and all. I mean, really? No hint of Lessa's badassery in sight.)

Lost Horizon—swoon. I was twelve. The Once and Future King—sigh. Thirteen. Dragonflight—Dragons! Ha! Yes! College. (Note the smexy girl on Dragonflight's cover, sideboob and all. I mean, really? No hint of Lessa's badassery in sight.)

 My bible: Edith Hamilton's  Mythology  I was thirteen when I discovered EH. (Note the careful placement of Perseus's sword. Hummm.)  The King Must Die —high school. Renault was transformative.

My bible: Edith Hamilton's Mythology I was thirteen when I discovered EH. (Note the careful placement of Perseus's sword. Hummm.) The King Must Die—high school. Renault was transformative.

 From 11 onward, I inhaled sci-fi.  Dune  and  I, Robot  are just two of a dozen in my "childhood" collection. Arthur C. Clarke, Philip Jose Farmer, Ray Bradbury. Many, many more.

From 11 onward, I inhaled sci-fi. Dune and I, Robot are just two of a dozen in my "childhood" collection. Arthur C. Clarke, Philip Jose Farmer, Ray Bradbury. Many, many more.

• So tell me, what books informed your childhood? Have you ridden any good dragons lately? •