My first novel, A Heart to Mend, was published in 2009, and with the positive reviews came the interviewers. My second, A Love Rekindled, out in March 2011 has also started getting some attention, and one of the more common question remains, “When did you start writing?”
The easy answer is that I started writing as a child but what I think is more important is when I started reading. Without that, I might not be a writer today, much less an author. I could stop writing today, in fact I did stop writing at some periods in my life, but I doubt I could stop reading.
Yes, I am a writer and author today but first, I was a reader.
I have to confess that for me there’s just something about books and the written word as a means to take me outside myself while still remaining very personal. The writer takes me to a new place, either physically or emotionally and plumbs my depths. I was a quiet child and even when surrounded by my siblings and other people, I would often find myself lost in my own thoughts. I loved daydreaming and the books I read were like the epitome of this fantasizing. It’s like an imagination that comes true because it’s been written down. It became so easy to travel to distant, sometimes imaginary lands, meet new people, and experience new cultures.
This was an ‘aha’ moment. I knew I would never stop. It was also around this time that I started writing down my own stories, I wrote of children’s adventures I wished I had. A few years after this, I happened on romantic fiction through Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte. Ahhh Jane Eyre… Charlotte Bronte was an amazing storyteller. Not only was the plot in the story as tight as a drum, the romance was so sweet. What an emotional rollercoaster. The build-up of their love was soft and touching, there were twists to keep you turning the page. I ended up reading the book several times in the following years.
Hundreds of novels have passed through my hands in the years since, and among them are authors that I will never forget. They reached right into my ribcage and squeezed, sometimes hard enough to make my eyes leak.They include Bertha M. Clay, Danielle Steele, Nora Roberts, Elechi Amadi , Sidney Sheldon, Buchi Emecheta, Harold Robbins, Judith Krantz, Helen Ovbiagele and Barbara Delinsky among others too numerous to mention. They educated me; shaped me, entertained me, and they pierced my heart. Beautifully written, and masterfully crafted, books by these authors had me sobbing at different stages.
I had another ‘aha’ moment. I wanted to write these sorts of books. It became sealed when I read the inspirational romance penned by Francine Rivers, Redeeming Love. I won’t try to describe this book to you. You just have to experience it yourself. I began writing again after that, just before the millennium. And I was writing romance. A Heart to Mend began life from a novella I wrote back then. I wouldn’t compare it to any I have listed but I’m also not ashamed of it. I hope to write more novels and know that they will be better than A Heart to Mend. I also hope that others will one day list my novels when talking about books they’ve read.
So yes, there is something amazing about writing and being able to hold a book you’ve authored. But what fewer writers talk about is reading that book and being captivated by your own story. We rarely talk about being lost in the pages of a good book, of reading throughout the night and having to prop open our eyes with toothpicks the next day, of spending minutes crying or simply thinking after reading a scene in a novel. This is what makes reading so indispensable to me, they can be simply for enjoyment but they also have the ability to change a life, an opinion, a belief, a worldview. So while I write to be authored, I mostly write to be read and to read.