Friday, February 17, 2012

Introduction Part II: How I Was Introduced to Fantasy

Hello Again Everyone!

Although I have already introduced myself, I thought it would be appropriate to tell you about how I was introduced to the Fantasy genre and a little more about my writing background and education.  This Introduction will serve as a prequel to my next post and my first Author Spotlight on this blog, introducing an author and an acquaintance that has influenced and mentored me over the past year.


When I was a kid, my face was always buried deep inside the covers of a book.  I couldn't get enough!  I read voraciously, quickly surpassing the reading levels of my classmates.  There was something about being drawn into a book, another world, a world different from my own, to which I could escape...  and each book (or series of them) transported me to yet another one.  After my first discovery, almost all the books I sought out to read were either Fantasy or contained some fantastical element.
Bridge to Terabithia
Katherine Patterson's Bridge to Terabithia was the first fantasy book I had ever read.  It captivated me and had me hooked.  You probably couldn't count on both hands--or toes, for that matter--the number of times I wandered into the forest around my house looking for Terabithia!  In addition to the enchanting side of the story, the other theme in the book struck a poignant chord within me.  Mrs. Carpenter--perhaps one of my favorite teachers to this day, and a teacher that helped to mould my love of writing--suggested that I read Bridge to Terabithia after my good friend, Tina, had been diagnosed with leukemia. Tina and I were close, at least from what I can remember (I was seven), and when she was diagnosed, I struggled to understand what the consequences of her condition meant.  At my age, I had yet to encounter to topic of death; and although Tina had not died, I understood the reason why Mrs. Carpenter had given me the book (once I had finished it, and after a sufficient cry, of course).
My love for reading has never changed, but around the Fourth grade, my new love had become writing.  My obsession with fantasy continued through the words I excitedly scribed, day after day, onto the colorfully-lined paper upon my desk.  I remember my teacher, Mr. Woodward, calling a meeting with my parents because he was "concerned that Joshua's imagination might be too wild, that he might not have a good grasp on reality."  In my opinion, Mr. Woodward's sheltered life in the Middle-Of-Nowhere, Maine had given him a skewed grasp on reality.  The reality: I didn't care for his talent-squashing opinion of me, nor did I let it get me down.  In Seventh grade, I began writing my first novel.  It was called The Haunting Truth and was about the haunted house I lived in for four years of my adolescence.  My teacher told me that my descriptions were eerie, and that after reading it, she left the lights on at night for a while.  I still have it, actually, and have considered going through and re-writing it now that I have a few more skills under my belt.

In high school I became so busy with my academics that I stopped writing and reading--aside from assignments, that is.  Had it not been for the encouragement of one teacher, Ms. Drager, I may have stopped writing altogether.  After reading my essays and some of my poetry, she suggested that I assist her in creating and running our school's newspaper.  With some reluctance, I finally agreed, and after a year and a half as the paper's main contributor and editor-in-chief, I had an important epiphany.  I didn't want to be a journalist, I wanted to be a writer (fantasy, of course), and I wanted to pursue it as a career.

The beginning stages of my current manuscript began then, in high school, but it wasn't until my Creative Writing studies in college that I began to hone my craft.  With my new (expensive) skills, I began to re-create the world in which my story took place, crafting a separate language, and drawing a rough sketch of the world's map.  After three years at Alma College, my two jobs and financial aid no longer covered the rising cost of tuition, and I was forced to leave school.  It was a blessing in disguise, as most things turn out to be if you're willing to look past the now, and it was because I left school that I met the love of my life, who has been nothing but supportive and has constantly encouraged me to keep writing.

Over the past ten years since our meeting, I had written various stages of the various books within the series.  I think my non-stop world-building and slightly annoying perfectionism with my languages finally got to him, because in 2010 he bought me a writing coach for Christmas.  It is because of his gift and support that I was finally able to finish my first manuscript (not to mention losing my job--another hidden blessing, which not only gave me a bit of perspective, but the much needed time to do it).  It's his continuing support (and a little bit of needed nagging!) that has gotten me to complete about one-quarter of the second book and also has sparked some of the ideas behind my newest Urban Fantasy project.

With that (apologetically) long-winded lead in, I have brought y'all current and primed for the next post about my mentor and writing coach and my first Author Spotlight.

Stay Tuned, 

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