A couple days ago a friend asked what books made me become a reader and love stories. Ironically, I had been thinking about this topic for most of 2018. I’m writing my third Kammbia novel, Diondray’s Roundabout, and after writing two previous novels you get a sense of what stories you want to tell. Also, you gravitate toward stories that you loved as a reader.
Well, I had to admit my love of reading and stories came from map books similar to the one above. I used to get Rand McNally Map Books as a kid and read them like they were novels. I grew up in St. Petersburg, Florida and I would always read distances between St. Petersburg and other Florida cities like Orlando and Jacksonville. Next, I would go to the back of the book and look for their population. I knew that St. Petersburg’s population was about 238,000, Orlando’s population was about 165,000, and Jacksonville’s Population was over half a million in the mid-1980s. I would create stories from reading those map books. So, I have realized that my first love of stories (and influence on my writing) started with map books.
I came to novel reading in my late teenage years. Outside the aforementioned map books, I read comic books before coming to novels. The first novels I read was Chronicles of Thomas Covenant Series by Stephen R. Donaldson. Thomas Covenant, the anti-hero protagonist, captured my imagination and gave me the impetus to read more novels. In my early twenties, I discovered two novelists that gave me a love of stories I’m deeply grateful for. I devoured the books of Charles de Lint and Dean Koontz. I read at least ten novels each from both authors. De Lint’s books were set in the imagined city of Newford, Canada and Koontz’s books were genre mash-ups ranging from sci-fi to mystery to horror. The above picture were my favorite books from both authors. This year, I have decided to re-read those books. I have already re-read Cold Fire (my favorite Koontz novel) and The Little Country (my favorite de Lint novel) and plan to re-read Strangers and Memory & Dream before the year ends.
What does this examination of where my love of story comes from? What conclusions can I make from it? My main conclusion is that stories matter. Stories can give a perspective outside your own everyday experience and take you somewhere you have never been before. Stories can give you a connection that you never thought possible and change your life, like it did for me.