Thursday, December 04, 2008

Tamora Pierce: An Homage

More than twenty years ago (!) I picked this book off the Bookmobile's shelves, and it was the book that set the course of my life. I think I was eight years old. I know that the person I am today is the summation of a hundred thousand small events, thousands of stories and hundreds of relationships, but that one book took all the previous experiences and condensed them into one searchlight that lit up all the rest that followed.

Alanna was the first book I had ever read where the perspective switched between two characters. I remember turning the page and then flipping back and forth, so confused, and then, so excited! I didn't know books could do that. It was absolute magic to my young mind. I had never known that there was more than one way to write stories, and from that time on, I payed attention to how a story unfolded, not just its unfolding.
And what a story! Here was a young, powerful heroine, daring to defy her family to follow her dreams, even if it means pretending to be a boy. Here was a girl with purple eyes and guts and a strong sword arm. She lived in a pretty amazing place, too--a place with Thief Kings and nobility and plotting mages, dangerous deserts and slave-trading neighbors. Reading that place sealed my heart to Fantasy for all time.
I have just written the first draft of my third novel. I have just finished reading my fourteenth novel by Tamora Pierce. It was just as good as the first one (and yes, I must admit, better than some of the ones in between). I have many false starts of books piled up in my mind and in my desk drawer, and probably ten of those false starts are born from Tamora Pierce's writing. My first finished book has a character named for one of her's. It's pretty clear to me that this woman is important in my world, my mind, my life.
I am so glad that she is out there, writing these books. Not only did she make me want to be a writer, she made me want to be the kind of woman she writes about: tough, smart, moral. My interest in martial arts and sword-fighting was fueled by the adventures she created. My love of justice was always slaked by her writing. And no one else has written talking animals with quite the same tough love that Tamora Pierce manages.
Tamora Pierce, thank you. You are my favorite author.

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