Monday, April 13, 2015

Oh my: Lions and tigers and bears. Oh my. Lions and tigers and bears.

Ana muses about a book series that influenced her life:

The Oz books were my favorites when I was seven through twelve years old. I have 40 jumbo hardcover books on a special shelf downstairs. Uncles and aunts always knew what to get me for Christmas--and they must have kept count, for I never got a duplicate.

I was an escapist kid. I loved the Oz series for its magical world the characters, including flying monkeys and Munchkins. The original author, L. Frank Baum, wrote the first fourteen books. The publisher then found other authors to pen subsequent stories. In truth, I never noticed the change in storyteller.

The Oz books led to my love of science fiction, especially Asimov and Heinlein, who didn't shy from sex and romance in his books. He led me to fantasy, which often was strongly sensual. From there I found Bertrice Small, a pioneer of modern steamy historical romance. (Sadly, she passed away a few weeks ago.) Her books were lengthy, and she had a formula that cast a spell upon my imagination.

After a ten year stretch, where I read every used romance novel I could lay my hands on, I read one that irritated me. The ending was rushed, un-set-up, and unsatisfying. I think the big-name author had a deadline to meet, and so did the publisher. I vowed that I could write a romance and set out to do that.

The product of that was my WIP, which was a good first attempt, but not at all ready for prime time. I've kept at it, and know one thing for certain. Writing is the next best thing to reading a super good book.

On second thought, it's better.


  1. I think every writer had their favourites as a child. I was never into fantasy (or science fiction either!), but preferred school stories and especially any with a theatre connection.
    I had a similar experience, although mine happened after I'd written my first full length novel. I wrote mainly for myself (and a couple of friends), but I was reading a lot of romances at the time, and one I read was so poor (with stilted 1930s movie dialogue) and not even a decent plot, just a rambling story, that I decided my story was better than that, and sent it off. It was accepted, and the rest, as they say, is history!

  2. I enjoy reading, Ana, but I love writing more - I think. When it's not going right I don't. But on the whole I wouldn't have been doing it this long if I didn't enjoy it.

  3. I never realized there were so many Oz books! I read "The Wizard of Oz" with my kids every year, and I knew there were several other stories based in Oz, but I had no idea the series was so extensive.

    For me as a kid (and still now to an extent) it was Nancy Drew. My favorite parts were when she spent time with her boyfriend Ned. I guess I had the romance 'bug' even as a kid. LOL

    And I totally agree with you, writing a good book is better than reading one!

  4. I had several of those books as well. My favorite great uncle used to send them to me and my dad would read them to me at night.