To sleuth out the answer to this fantastic question, we'll have to delve into the mind of an impressionable, ten-year-old girl, and discover what first propelled her towards the written word. My answer to this question is simple, really.
It's all about Nancy Drew.
The first book I remember falling in love with was my grandmother's copy of The Haunted Bridge, a Nancy Drew mystery by Carolyn Keene, a pen name for the many authors of the Nancy Drew Mystery Series.
Be still my little heart. There really was nothing more exciting than embarking upon a journey with hip, smart, beautiful and sophisticated Nancy as she expertly weaved her way through shady characters, dangerous adventures, and less than honest eye witness accounts in order to discover the truth. She was a strong female character who gave me the kind of courage that I think every little girl is in desperate need of these days.
I had an idea that perhaps I could be as outgoing, determined and intelligent in whatever I decided to pursue because Nancy Drew did it every day. I stuck to mysteries until my high school English courses introduced me to literary greats such as Jane Austen, William Shakespeare, Mary Shelly, and Harper Lee. From these individuals and their stories, I learned that first impressions are not always reliable when assessing ones character, high school drama is really "much ado about nothing", morbid creations can enthrall and thrill, and hatred for people based on race, gender or cultural differences are a sad reminder of the frailties of men and the mistakes our history tends to repeat.
Most of all, I learned that I will forever be drawn to fierce, intelligent, courageous women.
Jane Austen authored many romantic comedies that delved into the manners and every day intricacies of the gentry. She dared to write during a time when females were encouraged to sew, play instruments and look ornamental on the arms of their spouses. The name, Jane Austen, was never printed on any of her books during her lifetime, though she dared to challenge and ridicule the niceties of polite society and their never ending attempts at matching suitable gentlemen with suitable gentlewomen. She revealed the unvarnished truth, and reveled in it, despite the troubling confinements society placed upon her gender.
Mary Higgins Clark dared to broach the subject of sexual abuse in her novel Where Are The Children? She wrote this book during a time when society was uncomfortable with the subject matter and refused to address it as a real issue, though sexual abuse was just as prevalent then as it is today. She is the perfect example of an author willing to push the boundaries by revealing truth when most preferred to lend blind eyes and deaf ears.
Anne Frank, though she never knew it when she lived, is the author of the most compelling glimpse into the life of a jewish girl during the time of the Nazi occupation. She wrote with such beautiful, heartbreaking prose. Her witty observations, emotional outbursts and candid details gave light to a truth more horrific than any young girl should ever be expected to endure. Forced into hiding for two years to escape persecution and imprisonment, she lived her life to the fullest, at least as full as a young girl could considering her circumstances. I hope she resides somewhere in heaven, at peace in the knowledge of the affect those two years of her life had on my own life, not to mention so many millions of others who shared in her quiet griefs and exulted in her small joys.
Fierce, intelligent, courageous women. Oh, how I wanted to be just like them.
I could spend hours attempting to pinpoint every single author who inspired me to live loudly, think deeply and indulge in long hours of tireless reading that lent my thoughts to wild musings of my own, but we would be here for hours together discussing a subject that can never be fully explored. Suffice it to say, I was interested in my own nuggets of truth, and what I might have to offer to the world if I ever had the courage to try.
I eventually found that courage buried deep within me, planted years ago in the heart of a little girl who solved a thousand mysteries and lived a thousand adventures without stepping outside the safety of her own bedroom. The time had come for that little girl to discover her own adventures as the main character in her own story. With the guidance and support of some very dear friends, I became an author, and I wrote about what I knew. As I met other authors who shared with me what they knew, I realized that their truths were just as important as Jane Austen's, Mary Higgins Clark's or Anne Frank's.
And so I blog.
I blog about their lives, their thoughts and their experiences, and I blog about their own stories in the hope that I can contribute to their journey in some small way.
There are books that explore the realms of paranormal adventure, others navigate the dangerous dynamics of love, relationships and the impossibility of a perfect life. No matter the level of drama, intrigue, moral platitudes or devastating tragedies, there is always something to be learned from anyone and everyone. With thousands of lives being lived and thousands of authors furiously scribbling away so we can all live them, it stands to reason that we as human beings should enjoy their adventures as much as we enjoy our own. There are nuggets of truth waiting to be discovered. What if those truths were simply one blog post away?
To all of my author friends everywhere, I say, share those truths and find joy in the journey. To all of you voracious book bloggers out there, I say, carry on and happy reading. And for any mothers out there looking for a great book to introduce to their impressionable, ten-year-old daughters...well...I'd start with Nancy Drew.
C. J. Anaya