Saturday, March 6, 2010

It’s All in Your Head

I was deprived as a child—or so I thought. My parents wouldn’t let me watch much TV and they steadfastly refused to get cable until I was in the 11th grade. No MTV for me! I thought my life was so unfair.

My parents did encourage me to read, and I read from a very early age—probably from sheer boredom. The first “real” book I read was THE BLACK STALLION. I remember reading that book for hours and not even wanting to put it down to eat or watch TV (can you believe it?).

THE BLACK STALLION began a love affair with books for me. Part of the appeal of books was that I could travel to new places and be different people all without ever leaving my room. One day I was Lucy, meeting Asland in Narnia. Another day I was Laura Ingalls listening to wolves howling at night. I traveled all around the world and to different worlds too. I didn’t realize that my TV deprivation was actually a blessing in disguise (and don’t you just hate those blessings in disguises when you’re about 14—but that was when I found Stephen King).

As an author, I’m still traveling. My favorite place to travel is London in the early nineteenth century. I might be sitting at my computer in sweats and a t-shirt, but my heroines are in silk gowns, kid gloves, and wearing diamonds. There’s music, there’s dancing, there’s a roguish hero with a dangerous grin leaning against the doors to the terrace…

That’s better than TV any day! What about you? Did you enjoy traveling through books as a child? What were some of your first forays?


  1. I've been an armchair traveler all my life. Most of the places that I long to visit, I want to because some author has made it real and personal for me.

    One of my greatest thrills was to go to Bath England, and go to the Pump Room, setting of many a Regency romantic encounter. Yes, it's still there. We had tea there--with clotted cream--and afterward, I tasted the water. My companions looked at me askance. It's cloudy and yellowish. It doesn't look like good water. But, after all I had read about it--I had to.

  2. Great post, Shana! Hmm, I was a bed traveler, wait, that doesn't sound quite right, but as a kid, I'd curl up in bed, get away from the muggy Florida world, and read. I was running around with the Native Americans in Last of the Mohicans, and in the snow-filled landscape of Jack London's Call of the Wild and White Fang. My first taste of romance was when my 13-year old girlfriend sneaked two romance tales home that her librarian sister, who was 9 years older, loaned to her. Then I was soaring in the clouds with Coffee, Tea, or Me, a wild romp with airline stewardesses and Tender Loving Care with nurses. Maybe that's why I wanted to be a nurse early on. :) Only I didn't like the sight blood or needles, so that nixed that. LOL And flying isn't my favorite thing. :)

  3. We weren't not allowed to watch TV, but where I grew up all we had was an antenna. It was on the roof and my dad was constantly having to climb up there to adjust the thing. There there were the winter months when snow and wind knocked it down completely. At the very best reception we could get about 4 stations. Of course, this was in the day before 3 million stations, but getting only 4 was serious deprivation even then!

    I don't know if that is what turned me to books or if it would have happened anyway. No one in my family read except my older sister and me. We joke that neither of us remember learning how to read! It was as if 300 page chapter books were in our hands when we were born.

    So, yes, I know all about traveling to distant places. Heck, I have been on a multitude of distant planets! Reading IS fundamental. :)

  4. Mary Margret, I've been to the Pump Room as well. That water is awful! But, like you, I had to try it.

    I'm glad I'm not the only one deprived of TV as a child!

  5. I think one of my earliest book memories was Harold and the Purple Crayon, which was great because Harold went anywhere and everywhere he wanted to go, and created many an adventure--but then he got to go back home! I think that's where I learned that books really can take you anywhere, and I've been traveling ever since!

    Great post, Shana! I loved The Black Stallion, too :)

  6. OMG Shana!

    I think we went on the same reading binges as kids! My 4th grade teacher read "Little House In The Big Woods" to us and all the girls (and a few of the boys too) read all of the other "Little House" books!

    Then in 5th grade I discovered "The Black Stallion" and went CRAZY with that series! I was horse crazy at that time in my life, too, so that certainly fed my reading frenzy.

    I also devoured all the horsey books by Marguerite Henry -- King of the Wind, Misty of Chincoteague. About 6 years ago, I made the DH take me to Chincoteague just so I could see the ponies. I got such a thrill out of seeing them in the wild!

    So nope, I've never been much of a TV watcher. Not when I had a good book sitting around. ;-) Oh, and guess what I gave my grand-niece (who is in 5th grade) for her birthday? You got it! A copy of The Black Stallion.


  7. I had TV and books. I read a lot while in front of the tube.

    My dad always brought me back a book when he went on business trips and many times they were foreign fairy tale books. I loved them all.

  8. Yes I too read a lot when I was a child some of my favourite books when I was young were Enid Blyton's Secret Seven and Famous Five books filled with lots of mystery and adventure and friendships. In my teenage years I discovered Agatha Christie and by the time I was about 20 I had discovered romance and have been reading them ever since and love the places they take me and the adventures I have.

    Have Fun

  9. The Black Stallion was a biggie for me too, Shana, but actually traveling to exotic places didn't happen for me until I was much older. I guess the most interesting thing I've ever done was a Caribbean cruise.

  10. I always traveled vicariously through books. One of my all-time favorite authors is Wilbur Smith (his older books--The Courtney and Ballantyne series ) I explored all of Africa through his books and learned so much about the geopolitical problems which have plagued Africa for centuries.

  11. First book: Grimm's Fairy Tales. Hmm. Perhaps that's why I write fantasy. :}