--by D Michelle Gent
I remember being inspired to read by my granddad. He would sit me on his knee in the back room of the house. There was a delightful book that I particularly loved. It was about an infant Pegasus and the adventures he got into. I can’t recall the title of the book but I do remember vividly the enjoyment and delight at Story Time.
My love for books must have been born there I think, and it developed and grew from then on. Stig of the Dump, Smith, Watership Down and Alice in Wonderland all stick in my mind as books I read, re-read and adored. The Chronicles of Narnia can be read over and over without becoming boring or jaded and I moved on in my tastes as I grew older.
I would never be without a book in my hand, even at the table. “Michelle, put that book down while you’re eating!” was a familiar instruction from my mother.
Little Women, What Katy Did and What Katy Did Next were all devoured, as were the horror anthologies and history encyclopaedias – it didn’t matter to me what genre a book was, as long as I could get my hands on it and read, read, READ!
In my teenage years, I remember reading James Herbert’s The Rats trilogy and my fascination for all things horror was given a foundation on which to build. Stephen King, Guy N. Smith, Dean Koontz were all my ‘friends’ in the books they wrote and I shunned movies in favour of the far superior film that played in my mind’s eye as I read their stories.
I stole my dad’s copies of Jaws, The Deep and, most unwisely: The Exorcist. I became adept at knowing which books I could ‘borrow’ without getting caught – the ones on the bottom of his ‘To Be Read’ pile were the obvious ones to read first; he’d not miss them, especially if he was still in the middle of a book. I had far more opportunity to read than he did, so I could be certain of returning it before he’d finished his – I also became adept at reading without damaging the paperback spine so there would be very little evidence of anyone having read it before he got to it. I was very grateful if the book was a borrowed one and had already been read.
I suppose I should be thankful that he liked to read horror rather than sport!
That was when my need for a book that satisfied my desire for perfection began, I think. No-one had written the book I really REALLY wanted to read and eventually, I set about writing my own.
Then on to my adult years where I could (and did) buy my own books to read. I had spates of phases where I’d buy absolutely everything I could lay my hands on in a particular theme – zombies, vampires, anthologies, ‘survivalist’ novels – and one bizarre phase on those books where you made the adventure up yourself by choosing the direction you went in, flipped to a specified page, skipping chunks of ‘unneeded’ story (what a waste!) and only reading that part which was relevant to your decision.
My penchant for reading everything and anything came to an abrupt end when I read novel after novel of books that disappointed me and left me wondering if this was the best they could do. Formulaic, easily predicted endings left me cold.As for which book is my favourite, which inspires me most... well, that would be like asking which pet is my favourite – I don’t have just one, I can’t have just one, it’s impossible to choose. I can’t even choose which genre is my absolute favourite – historical fiction, historical fact, alternate history, horror... I can’t do it!
D Michelle Gent’s blog can be found here and book reviews here. Michelle's publisher can be found at Gingernut Books.