[Storyteller’s Howl] For The Love Of Books

Monday, September 26, 2016

A question I get all the time is “how did you decide to be a writer?” Well, the truth is…I didn’t. Like so many authors out there, I didn’t wake up one day and decide “I’m going to be an author and spend hours every day typing!

Honestly, I owe my current writing career to my mother. I’ve always written, and I’ve always drawn. These two things were the constants in my life, growing up – along with one other thing: reading. I was always reading. new-collier

As I’ve mentioned in the past, I was pulled out of school and homeschooled for most of my school history – from second grade onward to high school graduation, and the eventual getting of my GED five years later. During this period of homeschooling, I was required by several assignments to compose short stories. My mother, always encouraging of my artistic pursuits, loved what she read. But my favorite part of being homeschooled was getting to spend entire days in the library.

The library in the picture was my home-away-from-home. It was within the walls of the Collier Branch Library in Houston, Texas, that I found so many worlds and learned so many things. Within these walls, I found the book series’ that would shape my writing future and hone my imagination. Hank the Cowdog introduced me to first-person storytelling and taught me about humor and ranch life, The Three Investigators, Encyclopedia Brown, Nancy Drew, and the Hardy Boys taught me problem-solving and to look beyond the surface.

Animorphs taught me about the insides and instincts of animal behavior, and the true, dark realities of war, pain, loss, and grief – long before I would ever lose a person close enough to me to make it all be thrown into perspective. Animorphs in particular influenced me so much that I’ve written fanfiction for it (including an unfinished self-insertion based upon the two part Choose-Your-Own-Adventure style Alternamorphs series. I even got the chance to meet the authors once in 2011 – a huge deal for me.

The Collier Library interior, circa 2014 - These very desks an computers are where I first discovered fanfiction.

The Collier Library interior, circa 2014 – These very desks an computers are where I first discovered fanfiction.

Bill Wallace‘s books showed me enchanting, realistic animals, and sympathized with me when I lost my own beloved pets. Sadly, he passed away in 2012 – a fact I wasn’t aware of until I was looking up links for this blog post. Mr. Wallace, I thank you for the detailed and gorgeous worlds and animals in the tales you spun, and I count myself lucky to have grown up reading your incredible books.

James Herriot‘s books expanded on my love of animals, while sparking in me a desire to help animals as well – this desire to become a veterinarian was sadly not to come to pass – but without these books, I never would’ve even considered it! And honestly, at this point in my life I have to admit that my physical disabilities would likely have arrested this course of study halfway through, so it’s a good thing that I realized early on that there were aspects to being a veterinarian that I really wouldn’t be able to emotionally handle.

Doctor Robert Bakker‘s Raptor Red: A Novel fed into another obsession – the one I would end up pursuing through my schooling: paleontology. The beautifully realized cretaceous world of the novel has gone on to inspire my desire to be a behavioral paleontologist, though my area of expertise and focus is to be the Pleistocene, (also known as the ice age), rather than the Mesozoic Era (the time of the dinosaurs). But my love for all things dinosaurs has continued to this day.

These books and others helped shape me into the man I’ve become, the paleontologist I will still one way be, and the author and artist that I currently am. And books have continued to be a huge part of my life. From my undying (and often professed) love for Ted Kerasote’s Merle’s Door: Lessons Of A Freethinking Dog, to my newfound obsession with W. Bruce Cameron’s A Dog’s Purpose and A Dog’s Journey, the former soon to be a major motion picture in 2017 (check out the trailer at the end of this blog post!), books have continued to teach me about the world, about myself, and about things I never even realized were important.

Books are windows to other worlds, other times, even other species. And it’s these things and more that I try to bring to my own writing. To The Third Power is the novel at the center of all of this. Currently in the public editing phase on my Patreon, I’ve put little bits of everything I’ve learned from every book and series I’ve ever read into this book, as well as bits and pieces of my own personal history and reality.

To learn more about To The Third Power, read the chapters as they’re edited, and get some detailed insight into why the characters are who they are and how it relates to me and my life and loved ones, become a Patron. Even $1 a month gets you access to all the awesome features (both artwork and writing), and all patrons get a 10% discount on all art commissions.

I’ll leave you with the trailer for my current obsession – A Dog’s Purpose, the movie. And I highly recommend the books, as well as all the other books and series’ mentioned in this blog post. If you love books, you’ll love them. And now, enjoy the trailer for A Dog’s Purpose, and I’ll see you with another Storyteller’s Howl in six weeks!

What books inspire you? Tell me about the books you love in the comments below!