As originally posted on the Bell Books Blog (www.bellbridgebooksblog.com):
I cannot begin to count the times when, upon seeing the stack of “dragon” books arrayed before me on a book-signing table, some potential reader has asked, “How old are your children?” a question that always triggers the same response.
If curiosity overcomes their need to sidle away at that point, they no doubt want to know how I came to be an author of children’s books. This is usually when I explain how I really had no choice, as I never fully matured, mentally, but truth be told, I actually did grow up at one point. It was not until years later that I returned to the mental level of a seventh-grader.
Though I didn’t recognize it at the time, the humor-writing seed was first planted when I read Douglas Adam’s Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. To this day I’m not sure what age Hitchhiker’s Guide humor was intended for, but at the time I was twenty-five and thought Douglas Adams was hilarious.
A few years later I met Nancy, the woman who will surely be the topic of many future blogs but back then was just some crazy girl who would later become my wife. I was not exactly what you would call an avid reader, having read exactly four books since leaving college, all of them from the Hitchhiker’s Guide “trilogy.” Nancy, however, owned hundreds, if not thousands of books, mostly in the science fiction/fantasy genre, and hearing of my unquenchable appetite for humor books, she steered me toward Piers Anthony’s Xanth series.
I was an ancient twenty-nine when I read that first Xanth novel, so naturally I didn’t think of what I was reading as a children’s book. This could explain why my first “Journals of Myrth” story, with its many Xanth-like puns, was originally written with all adult characters. Not until I bundled it up and sent it off to that first publisher did I realize the type of books I enjoyed reading and writing were meant for children.
Okay, I know what you’re thinking. This guy really didn’t mature, mentally, did he? Maybe not. But once I realized that and rewrote my first Myrth book with child characters, I knew I had found my calling. Problem was, without children of my own to remind me what it was like to be a seventh-grader, I was forced to rely on my memories. I was in serious trouble.
Nancy can attest to the fact that I remember little about what happened before the age of twenty, or after. I do, however, seem to recall those preteen years as the one short-lived period of my life when I knew absolutely everything. Sure, there were awkward moments, some ninety-nine percent of the time, but even then I saw the humor in those many ridiculous, embarrassing situations. I didn’t know when or how, but I knew someday I would use those absurd experiences to my advantage.
Otherwise, what would be the point of having suffered all of that misery and humiliation?