Why I Write What I Write

I’m a big fan of fantasy and sci/fi. Romance, too, because there is a big part of me that is still sixteen and dreaming of the perfect love. A few years ago, I finished a fantasy series, put the paper back down on a towering stack of books (pre-Kindle days), and thought, "I’m going to run out of books to read." And panicked.

I read a lot. A lot. Sometimes several books a week. I could write a full-length book. I’d written a book-length dissertation, after all. I started my first novel when I was eleven. I wrote a '"Chapter" on one of daddy’s yellow legal pads and read it to my younger brother—who thought it was great. Wrote another "Chapter." Read it to him…

It was about a young girl and wild horses, of course. Mean ranchers were driving the horses off a cliff into the sea, forcing them to swim to an island far offshore. She went with them. I don’t remember her name or know what happened to her parents. To an eleven-year-old girl, parents were an unnecessary story element.

She found an abandoned cabin to live in. All was good—the story was moving right along—none of the horses drowned—when she decided she needed to bring water from a spring into her cabin. Uh, Oh. How could she do that? I couldn’t figure it out. It was an engineering problem that was beyond eleven-year-old me. So I quit writing and abandoned the girl and the horses and brother Jimmy, who has never forgiven me. I’m sure he still dreams about that girl and what might have happened to her.

Many years later, living in San Francisco, going to graduate school (as an elder student), I read a mystery—taking a break from the psychology reading I was supposed to be doing. The main character was a woman who moved to a remote island to recover from some trauma I don’t remember. She lived in an old cabin and wanted to pipe in water from the spring up the hill. The author solved the engineering problem that stumped eleven-year-old me in a matter of two sentences. I’ve forgotten everything else about the book—the main character, the mystery, the author (I’d like to thank), even how the water got to the cabin. But I haven’t forgotten that she solved this unsurmountable problem in two sentences.

So back to when I put down the book I was reading, thinking I was going to run out of books, I thought, "I love reading about alternate universes, about strange new worlds. Why not create my own?" I went into my office, fired up the computer, and started writing. That first scene changed a lot and ended up in the middle of the book not the beginning, but I had my two main characters, an idea about a new world, and a possible romance. Life was good. 

The book is Karda, and the world I created is Adalta. The Karda are (technically) hippogriffs—beautiful horse-bodied, hawk-headed flying creatures. And the planet of Adalta is techno-phobic. Advanced technology cannot exist there. (Imagine—a world with no iPhone!) It is a simpler world, like the remote island I invented when I was eleven. And the horses can fly.

So, what I am saying is, I’m still an eleven-year-old girl writing about horses and escaping into a fantasy world. 

I never have to grow up.

This is why I write what I write. Tell me why you read what you read. I’d like to know.