I started my path with an insatiable appetite for fairy tales and comic books. As a child, I immersed myself in picture books, quickly becoming annoyed because there’s only so many times you can look at a picture. I learned to read in the foundation years of school – what a blessed day it was when my teacher taught me to read the words on a page. From then on, it was an expensive feat for my parents, who had to indulge me often by taking me to the book store a lot.
The first book I ever read all by myself was a compendium of three Roald Dahl books: The BFG, Matilda and George’s Marvellous Medicine. I read it once, twice… fifteen times. He was my hero. The first time I read it was the first time I realised I wanted to be a writer. And nothing has changed since, except perhaps my tastes in literature.
After my Roald Dahl phase ended, which coincided with me hitting that special phase of adolescence which marks the stage of rebellion, I developed a taste for a more sinister storyteller: RL Stine. He petrified me, but not quite enough for me to stop reading them. I revelled in the Fear Street series for teenagers, and luckily my school library stocked them so I never had to convince my parents to buy the scary stories. It was during this time I learned that I have a love for tales seeped in the supernatural and started to eat up books from authors like Anne Rice, Stephen King and other adult titles not quite so suitable for my age. I went backwards you see: starting adult books when I was 13 years old and then at the age of 18 going back into middle grade and young adult titles. I’m just weird that way.
Then something very special happened. In 2006, my matric year, I decided to read Harry Potter. People had been going on and on about them for years, and eventually I was like “why not?”
OH MY WORD!
I have never in my entire life enjoyed something as much as I did that. JK Rowling’s genius creation transported me to places that even my strange little mind could never have fathomed. I was more in love with the written word while reading these books than I ever thought possible. When the final book came out May 2007, I had pre-ordered it, cleared my weekend, and read the final instalment with such relish that I didn’t sleep for two days. Of course, when I was done, I had to go back and read it all over again because I couldn’t see for all the tears streaming down my face the first time.
In 2009, another miracle happened: My mother handed me four black books. I read the blurb and was like “ma, this sounds like a love story” and tried to give them back. She looked at me, amused, and said, “Just try them. You only ever give a book 80 pages to hook you any way before putting them down. Give it a whirl”. I did, starting the first in a series of four books called Twilight. I was astounded, besotted, hooked. Badly hooked. Twilight started a year-long cycle for me of putting the fourth book down and then immediately picking up the first once more – about seven times. It got so bad that I couldn’t even write my third-year university mid-terms – so I made a rule: only read in the bath. So, naturally, I bathed for 4 hours per day.
So here I am in 2014, crafting my own written works. The first of what I hope to be many is my own version of Hand Christian Andersen’s Little Mermaid, which I have called Serenade. I’d love to hear what you think, because I’m always looking to improve. I am about to start my second story, one of my own creation this time, and so begins my new path; not as a reader, but rather as a writer.