I was a Beatles fan early on. “Paperback Writer” was a favorite and possibly the first clue that writing could be a career choice. I made up stories to songs like “Yesterday” and “Help!” before I knew how to form words on paper.
Everyone read in my house. My dad read the newspaper cover to cover. My sisters and mother always had their noses in books. My brothers read science fiction novels and magazines. Tired of asking everyone to read to me, I instead asked my mother to teach me to read for my fourth birthday.
When my kindergarten teacher posed the standard question of, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” many of the other girls answered, “A mommy,” or “A nurse,” or “a teacher.”
I said, “A writer.”
She told me women couldn’t make a living as writers. I insisted they could. She told me to name three who had. Precocious little monster that I was, I named five. That was probably the first (but definitely not the last) time a teacher complained to my mother about my “attitude.”
By second grade, I was writing my own “books” and entertaining my classmates with stories pulled from my overactive imagination. Bored with Nancy Drew, I moved on to Sherlock Holmes, even if it meant having my mother write a note so I could be allowed into the "grownup" section of the library. In those isles, I found Shakespeare, H.G. Wells and… books about The Beatles. Since I was attending a religious school, those last volumes had to be smuggled in and out of the building, but that just added appeal.
My sister introduced me to Edgar Allan Poe, and then I found Alfred Hitchcock. Several sleepless nights and phobias were the result, but I loved the darker side of fiction. When I was twelve or so, she handed me a Stephen King book, The Gunslinger. The first line drew me in. The story hooked me on Stephen King’s style. And then there was the Author’s Note at the end. Mr. King wrote of being in college and securing a sheaf of green paper from a pulp factory. He mentioned being inspired by the empty page and thinking that maybe it was magic paper. I had, a few years earlier, been given a stack of green paper by a nice guy at the paper recycling plant. It inspired me the same way. I remember thinking, with great relief, “Here’s someone who thinks like I do. I’m not weird!” And then I remembered I was comparing myself to Stephen King. Uhhhhh… Of course, now, I would be honored to be compared to him.
I wrote my way through high school, teaching myself by writing teenage romance story based almost entirely on Beatles lyrics. I tried it as a novel and as a bit of musical theater before stuffing the manuscript into a bottom desk drawer. It still lives there, never to see the light of day.
My college years brought about a horror novel, laced with Beatles lyrics and those of Bob Dylan and Metallica. Maybe someday, when I can afford the rights, I’ll revive that story.
Odonata: City of Night was my first novel to make it out of my home office and into the publishing world. Thanks to Renee Rocco and everyone at Lyrical Press, it became an e-book in 2011.
The release date was February 7th which happens to be the anniversary of when the Beatles first landed in the US. For a lifelong Beatles fan, what could possibly be better than that? Somebody cue “Paperback Writer,” please.
Here it is.