I’ve always felt like I have karmic luck. For every bit of sunshine, there is usually an equal dose of rain, and vice versa. That’s why I think that out of one of the worst things that ever happened to me, a horrible car accident, came one of the best things, my first inspiration to write.
It really was a terrible accident. I’m lucky to be able to walk, I’m lucky to be able to think and do things for myself, and I’m damn lucky to be alive. I experienced some pretty serious head trauma that damaged the part of my brain responsible for motor skills and forced me to learn how to walk again, along with a wedged backbone that made walking more difficult. While trapped in the hospital and later recuperating at home, reading became my best friend, and everyone knows that the most eager writers were at one point in time the most eager readers.
The stories I preferred when I was trapped in my solitude were the most otherworldly, the ones that allowed more of an escape from my mundane world. Along with a British book with stories about garden fairies, I had a giant green book of fairytales that I read from cover to cover – my first introduction to fantasy and one that planted the seed that made me want to write it. It wasn’t just the dragons, giants, unicorns, wizards or witches that captured my imagination, but the premise of the underdog aspiring against all odds and overcoming them. Considering the battle I faced at the time, I needed something that would help me believe that I would overcome my own challenges someday. I always remember being fairly resilient, and I think that’s where it all began.
As I got older, I managed to eventually return to a more normal way of life, but after finding myself outside of my peer group for so long, it was hard to get back in. I still had a crookedness to my walk and had gained weight because of my lack of mobility (I still can’t participate in high impact sports without causing myself great pain.) This, along with my shyness, played fodder for the bullies, and they gave me a new reason to want to escape.
While looking for more fairytales, I stumbled across a book of Greek and Roman myths, with some Arabian mythology as well. This was even better than the fairytales, exploring much more of the human condition through the exaggerated acts of the gods. I was hooked. I read everything mythological I could get my hands on, and delved into other cultures: Norse, Egyptian, North American Native, South and Central American, African, and Celtic. I couldn’t get enough of it.
With both the fairytales and the myths, I always enjoyed the darker stories the most. I found them cathartic. I was also sucked in by grimmer children’s books like Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (which I read many times over) and other Roald Dahl novels. I think that’s why I usually lean towards dark fantasy myself. It’s what intrigues me.
When I finally moved on to adult books, graduating with YA books like Tuck Everlasting, I sourced out my parents bookshelves first. My Mom was not a fantasy fan, but she did have The Lord of the Rings, some Anne McCaffery and a selection of Richard Adams books. Those served as a stepping stone to the adult fantasy section of the local library and I immersed myself in Jack L. Chalker, Tad Williams, Lawrence Watt-Evans, Piers Anthony, Tanith Lee, Guy Gavriel Kay and a myriad of other great fantasy writers. I was definitely addicted to the magic of it all.
This is why, even though I love writing and reading horror and have had several horror stories published, I still consider myself first and foremost a fantasy writer. The inspiration was definitely there, and there isn’t a day that goes by that I’m not grateful for it.