So I Say Thank You For The Books...' is a regular feature were we invite authors and book bloggers to share with us who or what inspired their love of books.
Today we're welcoming author Joss Stirling as part of her UK book tour Stealing Phoenix, follow up to the very awesome Finding Sky...
So I say thank you…
Answering the question ‘who is responsible for making me the writer/reader I am today?’ is akin to one of those embarrassing Oscar speeches that go on too long and the band interrupts. And yes, like Gwyneth, I will be in tears and end up telling my audience of authors ‘I love you all *sob*sob*’
Joking aside, it is impossible to put my finger on one person or one book without being unfair to all the others. Picture me as one of those fiendish 1000 piece puzzles, each bit representing something that went into making the whole. I can only hope to find some corner bits to show you; the rest will have to remain in the box.
One corner has to be Geraldine the babysitter. She lived next door and had the unenviable task of looking after my sister, brother and me. I of course was the angelic youngest (the other two did it). When we weren’t tying each other up to trees and rampaging across the garden in our fire engine assembled from deckchairs, she got us excited about this book called ‘The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe’. She wasn’t much older than us and I think her pleasure was still very much that of the child who believed doors did open into Narnia. As a result I was convinced the airing cupboard in my room was going to let me through if I opened it just right. Sadly the only creature that discovered a new world through that door was an escaped hamster (but that’s another story).
I rustle through the box and pull out another piece: Mr England. He was my teacher in the equivalent of Year 6 at Primary School. A funny looking chap (three-piece suit, tubby, comb-over), he made us learn things by heart. Thanks to him I can still recite ‘Tiger, tiger, burning bright…etc.’, which has proved surprisingly useful and enjoyable. I wish I’d learnt more this way. What he did was let me write. Once I’d finished my tasks for the day (I was quick so that was often an hour or so ahead of others) I spent my time making up stories. Ofsted might fail this style of teaching now but it suited me down to the ground. He also was the first to predict I’d have books in a library one day. So thank you, Mr England.
Third piece – my local library. I did not come from a bookish family. My mum was more artistic than literary (lots of art books) and my dad a busy policeman (he was the one who brought the Ian Flemings into the house I would guess). Not having many books at home was more than made up for by the local library. Can you think of a greater pleasure for an inquisitive child than experimentation at no cost? We really mustn’t lose the libraries in our communities because children like me from non-book backgrounds will find it difficult to make the jump into lifelong learning.
My final corner piece – an English teacher when I was in the sixth form, Mrs Waterhouse. She taught me not to dismiss what I did not understand or know. In one discussion, I made some callow comment about stupid poems on things like Greek urns and she challenged me to read Keats’ poem and understand it. Thank goodness she did, or I would never had got into Cambridge to read English and later go on to do a doctorate. That lesson also taught me not to rubbish genres others sneer at: romance, sci-fi, chicklit etc. A good story is a good story even if hidden under a genre wrapping that might be initially off-putting.
OK. I’ve gone on long enough. The band is playing and they are cutting to adverts. *Sob* I love you all *Sob*
Don't forgot to follow the next stop on the Stealing Phoenix blog tour tomorrow at http://bookpassionforlife.blogspot.com/
And look out for Lyndsey's Review of Stealing Phoenix coming later today!