I've always been a visual person, so I when I was very young hours would be spent looking through anything with beautiful illustrations or photos. Non-fiction animal books and National Geographic especially interested me; I went through a "I'm gonna be a Veterinarian when I grow up" phase.
I also loved fairy tales and had a beautifully illustrated compilation of them. I wish I still had it, but I did keep a Cinderella pop-up book that I loved to pieces, literally. I remember signing my name in cursive, so everyone would know it was mine. I was so proud, because I hadn't learned cursive yet. Looking at the signature now cracks me up; it certainly doesn't look as neat as I remembered it.
"Where the Wild Things Are" was one of my early favorites. I'm not sure if it was the illustrations that hooked me, or if I was dreaming of being as mischievous as Max and wanted to take an adventure. Now that I think about it, I'm sure it was the latter because I also loved "James and the Giant Peach". The image of a boy who was mistreated by his caregivers I guess was a real draw. Not unlike Harry Potter who became so popular. Dr. Seuss' "To Think That I Saw It on Mulberry Street", "Pippi Longstocking" and "Peter Pan" were more of my early favorites, all of which were also strongly character driven. These kids got to do things I never would have dreamed. They went against authority and had wonderful experiences. My parents were probably happy I didn't live by that theme. I was a very boring child who lived vicariously only through the books I read. That's okay because I made up for it when I became a teen.
As a pre-teen and teenager, edgy books were my thing. I went to a Catholic school, still stuck in my shell when my friends and I found "Are You There God, It's Me Margaret". A group of us passed that book around like a hot tamale, hiding it in our school folders because we knew our parents wouldn't approve. We thought we were being so naughty reading about puberty. After junior high, I went to a public school and found "The Outsiders" and "Go Ask Alice". I didn't use the characters as role models, but these were the kinds of books I enjoyed reading as I learned to break free and become my own person. Then I got away from reading all together as I thought I had more important things to do.
I hope to write books that will inspire teens to keep reading. I'd like to write about things they can relate to while trying to break free from their own shell. I also think it would be fun to write a middle grade novel. I'd like to create an adventurous character like the ones who inspired me as a child. I guess I'm still living fantastic adventures through books. Is that wrong?