The Book That Inspired My Author Adventure

watershipdownWe all know every writer started as a reader. Recently a writer friend of mine shared that the book she read in middle school that kicked off her interest in writing for children was E.B. White’s Charlotte’s Web. I agree that book is a serious favorite of mine too. I named my first two-wheel bike Charlotte after all. But for me, if I have to narrow down from all the books I read as a kid, (everything from To Kill A Mockingbird to Salem’s Lot) the one book that inspired me the most was Watership Down by Richard Adams.

The blurb from Sparknotes does not do this novel any favors:

Watership Down is the tale of a group of rabbits in search of a home. Fiver, a small, young rabbit, has a gift: He can tell when things are going to happen and he can sense whether they will be good or bad. Fiver foresees great danger to the rabbits’ home warren.


Bunny Metaphors Abound

Bunny Metaphors Abound. Photo credit Irina Blaski 2016.

The book is So. Much. More. Maybe part of my affection stems from the fact that my favorite teacher in middle school passed along her personal copy to me, encouraging me to dive deep within its pages to find the story beneath the story. Shout out to Mrs. Monroe @Summit Hill Junior High for lighting the fire within this little girl. Honestly it took her a couple weeks of pestering for me to give this book a chance just because the back cover blurb was so lame.

Once I started, I couldn’t put it down. And so began my love of reading and writing stories that are more than what they seem on the surface, stories with nuance that warrant a second, and third reading.

Richard Adams wrote Watership Down in 1972. From his Amazon Author Page:

Richard George Adams (born 9 May, 1920) is an English novelist, author of Watership Down, Shardik, Maia, The Plague Dogs, Traveller, Tales from Watership Down and many other books.

He originally began telling the story of Watership Down to his two daughters during a long car journey, and they insisted he write it down. When Watership Down was finally published, after many rejections, it sold over a million copies in record time in both the United Kingdom and the United States. Watership Down has become a modern classic and won both the Carnegie Medal and the Guardian Children’s Fiction Prize in 1972. To date it has sold over 8 million copies and been translated into many languages, including Finnish, Hebrew and Chinese.

And yes, he’s still alive and kicking at 96 years old. [UPDATE Richard Adams passed away the day after Christmas, 2016 a mere three months after my original post. His obituary can be found RIP.]

Adams reads from Watership Down at a 2008 exhibition of Aldo Galli paintings, Photo Credit

One of my favorite interviews with him is from The Telegraph, originally published in 2014, in which he tells us that when his publisher accepted the manuscript (after rejections from seven other publishers) “This blew a trumpet in my heart.”
Great line, right? It’s the same feeling I get when a four or five star review for any of my work hits Goodreads!
Another of my favorite Adams quotes is from an interview with Alison Flood of The Guardian just last year, where he said, “I do not believe in talking down to children. Readers like to be upset, excited and bowled over.”
Nothing wrong with a little heart-pumping excitement or a good, cleansing cry while turning the pages of a book.
Which book started your author journey? Share in the comments!

Rest in Peace Richard Matheson, 1926-2013

Matheson in 2008, from Wilipedia, the free encyclopedia,

Matheson in 2008, from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

There are a handful of writers who I adore. Writers who sent my imagination soaring when I was a young girl and made me want to become a writer. Writers who influenced me as I developed my own writing style. Richard Matheson is one of those writers. He passed away peacefully yesterday surrounded by his loved ones.

A science fiction and horror short story author and novelist, if you haven’t read his work, you’ve certainly heard of it: I Am Legend and What Dreams May Come were both made into popular movies, neither of which reflect the actual content of what Matheson wrote.

Honor the man. Read the words.

I Am Legend

What Dreams May Come

Somewhere in Time

A Stir of Echoes

Hell House


Observations on the Beach: Electrons vs Paper


The beach is the perfect place to read, and in June, I was able to spend two weeks of blissful sun ray soaking, sandy toe stroking, gentle surf sounding, reading time. I even broke my personal reading record: five books in two weeks. As you can imagine, it was hard to leave that perfect reading environment behind.

Each day, after diving in to a good book for a couple hours at a time, when I finally came up for air, I did some people watching on the beach. And, nosey gal that I am, I took a peak at what they were reading. Mainly, paperbacks. Yes, there were Kindles and Nooks (I saw three of one and two of the other on the first day), and a spattering of hardcover books (three throughout the week), but by and large, beachers were reading paperbacks in every genre.

I couldn’t help myself. I had to ask someone. Well, okay, a few someones that had fatefully unfolded their chairs near mine.

Rachel from Virgina, reading Something Borrowed by Emily Giffin, told me she owns a Kindle, but would never bring it to the beach because of the sand. “Even if you don’t drop it, there’ll be sand on your hands when you’re touching the screen.” She said a paperback is lower risk and just as satisfying.

Mark from N. Carolina, reading The Man in the Rockefeller Suit by Mark Seal, sitting next to Maggie with a Nook reading The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins, said a paperback felt better. “The sun warms the pages. It feels good. Better than that machine she’s got there.”

Maggie, on the other hand, was all for portability. “I got too much to lug around as it is. And this thing holds an entire library.”

Finally, Carla from S. Carolina reading Message in a Bottle by Nicholas Sparks, said, “I’ve always brought a new paperback to the beach, ever since I was a kid. I pass them around when I’m done and someone hands me off another. The condo I’m staying at has a bunch and you can tell they’ve been well read. It’s recycling.”

So there you have it. My completely non random non statistical sample of the books and book format people read on the beach. And me? I was one of the three with a hardback book. Dust jackets repel sand as well as dust.

How about you? What do you bring to the beach?

Photo © Alex Bramwell