What five books are most important or influential to you?
Here's what she has to say:
First off, asking me to pick only five important books feels like asking me to decide which of my children is my favorite--you cruel, cruel, woman! :) But I will do my best . . .
I think I'll go with the 5 books that have had the most impact on me as a writer.
1. The first book is one that I am not actually quite sure of the title. I believe it was called DUCK TALES (not the Disney Ducktales). It was a chapter book I found in my Easter Basket when I was about 8 years old. My reaction was probably something like, "A book? That's a dumb thing for the Easter Bunny to bring!" I struggled a lot with reading as a child and even though I enjoyed the bedtime stories my father used to tell me, I thought at the time that reading was boring and hard. However, this was the first time anyone had ever given me a chapter book to read, so decided to give it a try despite thinking it was going to be too difficult. But within a few pages, I was completely enthralled by this story about a little lost duckling trying to find his family. I found myself staying up late, reading under the covers to find out what happened. And then asking for more chapter books when I was done with this one. This was the book that turned me into a real reader.
2. JACKAROO by Cynthia Voigt. Even though I still struggled with reading through most of my childhood, I continued to enjoy it and always sought out new books to read. When I was in middle school, I found this book in my older sister's collection. I read it and fell in love with this story of a girl who must pretend to be the famed hero/bandit "Jackaroo" in order to save her town. I became so enthralled by the story, I started writing my own little stories and poems about the characters. Then I started writing my own stories about my own characters. This is the book that turned me into a writer. It also had a strong girl-power message that gave a me a confidence boost as a 13 year old.
3. HE SHALL THUNDER IN THE SKY by Elizabeth Peters. In high school, I found myself bogged down by all the assigned reading I had to do for my honors English classes. I was a very slow reader and and I had to work very hard to keep up with my homework--which means I hardly ever got to read for fun anymore. It wasn't until I was in college that I got back into reading for pleasure. My sister introduced me to the Amelia Peabody series by Elizabeth Peters and I pretty much became obsessed with it. It is a long series with several books, and I spent a lot of time combing the dusty stacks of my college's library (that was being renovated at the time) to find the each next book in the series. I remember once wading under what felt like miles of plastic sheeting in a dark library basement--with a flashlight--because I HAD to get the next book! My favorite book in the series was HE SHALL THUNDER IN THE SKY. This was the book I was reading when I came to the realization during my junior year of college that instead of being an attorney, archeologist, or actress, I really wanted to be an author.
4. At the time that I decided that I wanted to be an author, my roommate was student-teaching a third grade class. She told me all of her students were really getting into this book called Harry Potter. I was a volunteer reading tutor at a local elementary at the time, and I was always searching for books my students might enjoy, so I decided to check the book out. I enjoyed the first one, so I read the second one. Both were really good, so when HARRY POTTER AND THE PRISONER OF AZKABAN came out a few weeks later, I ran out and bought it--and I LOVED it! It is still my favorite of the series and still one of my all-time favorite books. This is the book that made me decide to enroll in a series of "writing for children" classes at my college.
5. When I first started taking those writing classes in college, I thought I wanted to write middle grade books like my beloved Harry Potter. However, during one of my writing courses, I was required to read a few Young Adult novels and then write the first chapter of a YA novel. One of the books I chose was THE PRINCESS DIARIES by Meg Cabot. I loved this book! And when I took a crack at writing a first chapter of a YA novel, I realized that YA was where my voice really belonged, and that's what kind of books I wanted to write. Princess Diaries was the book that made me want to write YA. And if I can sneak a 6th book into here, I would say that reading SPEAK by Laurie Halse Anderson solidified me as a YA writer for sure. I find so much inspiration in that book.
Thanks for the interview! It was fun to talk about some of my favorite books. I find myself wanting to re-read them again.
Thanks Bree for a look into your book inspiration to becoming a writer! I want to re-read (or read for the first time) some of these books too!