I Heart Books
by Susan McBride
I’ve always been a bookworm.
We moved around a lot when I was growing up so every few years we picked up stakes and went to a new place, wherever my dad’s job sent him. By the time I was thirteen, I’d lived in five different cities (four different states), and I’d been enrolled in four different schools. It made it hard to keep friendships when we never stayed anywhere for very long. The only thing I could count on in those days was books.
The first thing I did whenever we got settled was to visit the nearest library and get a library card. I’d check out a stack of books, as many as they’d let me take, and I’d read them in my room in our new house. The stories took me away from all my worries and fears about starting classes mid-term with people I didn’t know and trying to find friends in our new neighborhood.
I loved books so much that I built my own library, putting pockets with cards inside the front cover. I got a date stamp, and I made my brother and sister check books out. To this day, they’re not big readers. Hmm, wonder if I had anything to do with that?
When I was in fifth grade, I tried my hand at writing novels. I have three from back then saved in a box in my closet. One was about two friends who solved crimes on their street, another was an illustrated tale about two nice monsters from Monsterville, and the third was a mystery, like a Nancy Drew, called THE SECRET OF THE FORBIDDEN TEMPLE. I even made a paper cover for it with artwork on the front and spine. Inside the back flap, I noted “Other Books by Susan McBride” and made up a bunch of titles. I loved the thrill of conjuring up characters and putting them in situations I could only dream about. It was the perfect escape, and I let my imagination fly.
I should have realized back then that I was destined to be a writer. But it took awhile longer for me to figure that out. I didn’t seriously consider becoming a novelist until I was 19 and between transferring colleges. My family was road-tripping to my grandparents’ house for Christmas, and I had an epiphany. “I will write a book!” a little voice inside my head announced as I sat in the back seat, trying to keep a safe distance from my irritating little brother. I dug out a tiny notepad and pen from my purse, and I started scribbling then and there. What I ended up writing—a 600-page historical romance called THE THORN OF THE ROSE—was never published. But I did send it out to various editors and agents who encouraged me to keep at it.
Every year after I graduated college, I penned a new novel. I had 10 of them written before I ever signed a book contract after winning a writing contest. A small press published AND THEN SHE WAS GONE and OVERKILL, before a
I’ve had a blast devising tall
Although it was never much fun moving around when I was growing up, in a way I’m grateful for the challenges I had to face early on. I don’t think I’d be the person I am now without those experiences. Because of them, I learned to use my imagination, both as a reader and a writer. Isn’t it amazing, how words can transport us to other worlds, especially when we need to escape from our own? I love that!
No matter what, no matter where, it’s always home if books are there. J