- On January 25, 2015
How did you begin writing?
I’ve always thought my path to becoming a writer wasn’t normal, but recently, I’ve begun to wonder if there is such a thing as typical in a writer’s life. Truth is, my inner child shudders whenever I answer this question.
Because I know the exact moment I became a writer.
If there is such a thing as normal in a writer’s life, then I’m certain this doesn’t qualify. I vaguely remember writing stories as a child. I pitter-pattered all night long on my keyboard that was attached to a big, boxy, cream-colored monitor. I wrote more stories than I can remember. I’m sure of this, even though I never shared them with anyone. Some were flash fiction pieces set in the realms of my favorite television shows or movies. Some were longer. Some helped me to understand the world and the struggles I had been facing.
But that’s not when I became a writer. A real writer. That wasn’t the moment. Every writer knows the one. That moment of pure clarity. The moment where you fall in love with something, someone. The moment that caused the dominos to fall.
It all started with a movie.
When I finally saw this movie, I wasn’t impressed. I didn’t have that moment. Not yet, but I wasn’t looking for it, either. I was happily on my pre-law track at university. As much as it pains me to admit, I wasn’t even a reader at this point. But my life was empty. I just didn’t know it then.
I hadn’t heard of this movie. It was a book-to-film adaptation that everyone was talking about. I just hadn’t listened. I remember seeing the novel on endcaps at various stores. Each and every time I saw it, it caught my attention. It even drew me close enough to pick it up and read the back. The blurb was a snippet from the story, not a brief summary of the plot, and it wasn’t enough to make me put the paperback into my cart. Looking back, it’s almost as if my subconscious was beckoning me, my spirit guides calling me to my right path.
I saw the movie by chance. The company my mother works for gives yearly gifts to its employees. The year I saw the film, the gift happened to be two free movie tickets to the local theater and a gift card with enough money for two sodas and one medium popcorn. My then-boyfriend and I wanted to see a movie that weekend, and while deciding on which featured film to watch, the television show we weren’t really paying attention to changed to a commercial—more specifically, a movie trailer for the film. At this point, I hadn’t put the pieces together. I didn’t know this film was based on the book I had looked at time and time again.
After I had watched the film and became obsessed with the series, I did some research. While watching the trailer, I hadn’t been aware that I was being led into a trap. I am a fan of action films, and this particular franchise was marketed toward women—teens, specifically. Since this was the first book-to-film adaptation in the series, the marketing gurus didn’t want to limit their financial success by focusing solely on women. So they created a trailer that gave viewers a sneak peek at the only fight scene in the entire film. This trailer was targeted toward men—or pre-law enthusiasts with a love of fight scenes. My action-movie-loving-self was enthralled. In a silent agreement, my boyfriend and I decided to see the film at that very moment.
On our way out the door, we passed my mother and sister. Both were sitting at the kitchen table discussing the book. When we shared the movie’s title just before walking out the door, they erupted into cheers that would impress any fandom. The film centered on a love triangle between the three main characters, and this triangle caused frenzy among fans. Teams had been established. Hearing my mother and sister bicker, scream, and chant should have been enough to warn me of my impending doom. But I was clueless.
We made our way to the theater, and when we arrived, we noticed that the parking lot seemed particularly full that day. It was a Friday evening, and it just happened to be opening weekend for the film. I didn’t know that then, and looking back, it seems as if seeing that film was meant to be. They had just two tickets left. But before we could make it to our seats, we had to stand in line.
I remember the moment as if it is replaying before me. There was a wraparound line of young girls waiting to file into the room. Surprisingly, I hadn’t noticed them when I first walked into the building; I was too distracted by our date night. Just as my boyfriend asked whether or not the line of teen girls was the line we should be in, a girl turned around and held up a black sign with neon-pink sparkly writing that said: I ♥ Edward.
I didn’t know it then, but I loved Stephenie Meyer’s Edward, too. I loved him in many ways, but most importantly, I loved that he made me read.
The girl’s sign seemingly not being enough, she then announced to everyone in the waiting area: Team Edward!
That being my cue to exit (or run), I turned to my boyfriend and begged him to let us leave. He convinced me to stay, a suggestion he’ll never truly understand the importance of. After watching the film, I left the theater unimpressed. My only thought was that the main protagonist’s father was hilarious, and my love of his character made me consider seeing the film again. I convinced myself that my distaste was due to the overwhelming number of chatty teens and my inability to hear over their discussions. I returned later in the week, seeing the film early in the day so that I was not disturbed.
I didn’t understand the concept of a sparkly vampire. I was used to vampires that were evil, soulless beings and humans who feared them (or needed Buffy’s assistance). The film briefly explained the idea that the vampire’s skin sparkled like diamonds, but that wasn’t enough for me to put the two together, so I decided to read the book. I read it in just one weekend, and I quickly went on to read the others.
I was instantly hooked on the idea of this forbidden romance. In about 300 pages, Meyer made the reader beg for this affair, and then in book two, she took it all away. She kept readers on their toes, completely engrossed in her love story. However, her talent in creating a new vampire tale wasn’t simply her ability to make two fall in love; it was how she skillfully took a subject covered time and again and made it her own. She brought in the idea of a vegetarian vampire, of a vampire who sparkles in sunlight instead of burning, and of a creature that has more abilities than simply super strength and hearing. In a market that is incredibly competitive, one must strive for such uniqueness.
When I finished the series, I felt as though I lost a part of myself. It was as if the characters in the books were friends that had moved away. They weren’t gone forever. I knew I could visit them again at any time by simply picking up book one and starting over, but it wasn’t the same. I wanted to feel the connection again. I wanted it to be brand new. So I went to my local book store, and I hid in the young adult section.
I wasn’t looking for another love story. I was looking for something different. I wanted to read about a heroine who had to fight for everything she had. I wanted life to be a struggle for her, making her successes that much more intense to the reader. I was introduced to Richelle Mead’s Vampire Academy series. From book to book, I read how Rose Hathaway gained and lost everything in her life: her family, her love, her friends, and her freedom. Mead took the love Rose and Dimitri shared and tore it apart—literally killing Dimitri in the process. I cried with Rose; I laughed with her. But ultimately, I begged for her to be reunited with Dimitri again. By the end of the series, Rose grew into a powerful young woman. She learned from every horrific situation Mead put her through and coped. Mead created a complex, but interesting, combination of love and action, making her series appeal to both men and women. This was something I hadn’t yet read: a series with romance and an abundance of action—one that appealed to all audiences.
After finishing Mead’s series, I again yearned to read something that had a touch more action and a bit less love—something that took the idea of vampires back to where they belong: alone, evil, killing. P.C. Cast and Kristin Cast threw me into the world of The House of Night. The story follows Zoey, a young, newly marked vampire living in a world in which humans are aware of the existence of vampires. The mother and daughter duo beautifully mesh intense action scenes with the occasional romance. Throughout the series, Zoey is betrayed by her friends, abandoned by her boyfriend, and labeled as an outcast by society. In a struggle to survive, Zoey is forced to regain her friends’ trust and outsmart some of the evilest, most powerful antagonists I had ever encountered in a novel. The authors do a wonderful job of creating a very different approach to vampires, luring more and more readers to their series.
The film adaptation of Twilight was released in theaters on November 21, 2008. By the following March, I had read over one hundred books. I devoured almost every teen and adult vampire, shape shifter, and witch novel available, and although every book I read was beautiful in its own way, I couldn’t seem to satisfy my hunger for the perfect novel: one that was the ideal balance of action and romance. That’s when it hit me: The novel I was searching for hadn’t been written yet.
That was the moment. The moment I became a writer.