I read a great deal as a kid. I tore through book after book like a fat guy at a buffet. (I have also been the fat guy at the buffet, but that’s not the point). Reading was adventure. I wasn’t just sitting in my room reading a book. I was traveling worlds with an ever rotating cast of characters. Stories took me out of the moment. They helped me to see beyond Sierra Vista, or whatever rain soaked Pennsylvania town my mom brought me to, crossing oceans and deserts and the spaces between stars.
One of my favorite book series is The Prydain Chronicles, by Lloyd Alexander. This is the series that the much derided Black Cauldron Disney movie is based on. The story of Taran growing up from a boy who lucks himself into victory in The Book of Three grows into a man I looked up to as a child by book 5, The High King.
When I read these books at 8 or 9, I didn’t really like Taran Wanderer. I just didn’t understand the point of the book. It took me until I was a bit older to understand that book four was Taran’s journey into adulthood. He set out on a path do discover who his parents were, but found himself. Incredibly clichéd I know, but considering when the series was written, it may have been just a bit less clichéd. No matter, the book still made an impression on a younger David, showing me that I had to make my own choices. Who I am depends on me.
I grew up in an abusive household. My father once spanked me with a belt until blood ran down my legs. My stepfather took every opportunity to belittle me and my siblings, calling us every name under the sun. I turned to books, lost myself in story after story, tagging along on many adventures. Some of my favorite authors were Tamara Pierce, Anne McCaffrey, David Eddings, Terry Brooks, Robert Heinlein, Elizabeth Moon… by high school I was reading more Robert Jordan, George R. R. Martin, Terry Goodkind… with some Margaret Weiss and Tracy Hickman thrown in. All of these authors showed me worlds beyond what I had. They showed me that whatever hay have happened to me, how I reacted to it, and how I chose to move forward depends entirely on me. My story has tragic moments, but it has a great deal of happy moments, a great deal of hilarious moments, and lots of opinions about things I am grossly unqualified to have.