The year was…well, never mind that. Let’s just say that it was Jr. High and whenever the word “fantasy” was spoken among the pre-adolescents in this particular community, nobody thought of books. But, we had an amazing librarian. No, he didn’t look like the guy in the picture to the left. He was tall, gangly, and to my twelve-year-old self, he was old. I believe he wore glasses, but he had a ready smile, seemed to love hanging out with obnoxious pre-teens and teens, and loved literature in all it’s forms. Our library had romance books, fantasy, science fiction, classics, mystery, non-fiction, and a wide variety of all of the above. He knew where every single genre and title could be found, precisely. He also had a wide array of “disallowed” books and encouraged students to get parent permission to read them.
But I digress. What this particular librarian did for me was invite me into a new world of literature. The above-named, never spoken, fantasy genre. And he was sly about it. I was one of those sappy, love-animals, readers. I went to him and asked for a book that fit into my narrow criteria. He spoke with me for a few minutes–not an easy task since I was extremely shy–and then took me to C.S. Lewis. Once he placed The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe into my hands, I was hooked. Despite the snickers of classmates, I claimed fantasy as my genre from thenceforth. This amazing librarian also taught a “presentations” class where I learned how to write better non-fiction and a touch of photography. Teachers are amazing people.
Now, I know that the focus this month is on experiences that we use in our writing, and this might not seem quite on track with the theme, but my experience with that one librarian has shaped my reading and writing more than any other moment. I’ve lived in foreign countries, learned foreign languages, suffered the death of loved ones from age and disease, felt rejection, and experienced success. All of those experiences have found a place in my ability to express myself, but the influence of that one person in my young life helped me focus those experiences into writing that I love.
Just a quick shout out: Thank you to all caring and involved teachers everywhere. And thank you to the few schools who still employ certified, full-time, librarians.
Colette Black lives in the far outskirts of Phoenix, Arizona with her family, 2 dogs, a mischievous cat and the occasional unwanted scorpion. She loves learning new things, vacations, and the color purple. She writes New Adult and Young Adult sci-fi and fantasy novels with kick-butt characters, lots of action, and always a touch of romance. Find her at www.coletteblack.net