Author A. LaFaye is known for wandering -- both physically by traveling here and there and back again to visit schools, speak at conferences, and visit a zoo or two along the way AND mentally when she goes off topic on a wordy little tangent about who knows what. Read and find out.
Thursday, May 26, 2016
The Reads That Shaped This Writer
by Guest Blogger Laurie J. Edwards
A Reader Gets Hooked
Asking me to
choose the book that had the greatest impact on me is liking asking me to
choose my favorite child – it can’t be done. My mother’s favorite story is
that, when I was eight months old, I would sit in my playpen and “read” Reader’s Digest from cover to cover,
turning one page at a time and looking over one side and then the other, before
turning to the next page. I may have been imitating my parents, who were
voracious readers, but my love affair with books began then and continued throughout
When I truly
learned to read, I holed up in my room, ignoring my mother’s plea that I needed
fresh air and exercise. My reading addiction led to flashlights under the
covers and books hidden inside my school desk. I read an average of 20 to 30
books a week throughout my elementary, teen, and young adult years. I read my
way through library after library, and my greatest joy was becoming a librarian
with access to free ILLs (interlibrary loans) and no fines.
All of this makes
it difficult to pinpoint one special book that turned me into a writer. The
book I reread from cover to cover until it was tattered was A Little Princessby Frances
Hodgson Burnett. That book influenced my philosophy of life: I wanted to be
Sara Crewe, to always be cheerful in spite of life’s hardships, to always look
for the best in people, and to use my imagination to brighten any situation. If
I had to give one book credit for inspiring my outlook on life and stirring my
creativity, A Little Princess would
win the award.
From Reading to Writing
The author that I
most wanted to imitate, though, was Madeleine L’Engle. When I read A Wrinkle in Time, I dreamed of writing
a book that affected readers so powerfully, that immersed them so deeply in a
fantasy that they lost track of time and space, and that made them sigh in
contentment when they closed the cover, knowing that the ending was not only
inevitable, but perfect.
When I began
writing, I took Madeleine L’Engle’s quote to heart:“You have to write
the book that wants to be written. And if the book will be too difficult for
grown-ups, then you write it for children.” I strongly believe children have an
open-mindedness and a deep, innate understanding of what’s important in life, a
knowledge that adults lose as they rush through their days worrying about to-do
lists and other people’s opinions. Young readers are storing up knowledge and
information they’ll use as adults, so children’s books have the power to
influence their life choices.
I still remember
the impact Madeleine L’Engle’s quote of Francis Thompson made on my young
impressionable mind: “Thou canst not stir a flower / Without troubling a star.”
Reading those words made me appreciate the vastness of the universe and the
interconnectedness of all life. I realized the ripple effect even tiny acts of
kindness can have on the world around me, and to this day, I can’t pull weeds
without feeling a vast sadness. I’d rather have an overgrown garden than remove
a plant, any plant – even a weed. To touch readers’ lives so deeply that my
words positively influence decisions made decades later would be my greatest
I may never
approach Madeleine L’Engle’s greatness, but when a teen boy comments on Wattpad
about my YA novel Grace and the Guiltless,
“I've never been so moved by a book. You honestly made me cry…” or a young teen girl says, “Reading this
makes me stick up for myself and teaches me to boost my confidence,” I feel I’m
heading in the right direction. Someday I hope to influence readers the way
Frances Hodgson Burnett and Madeleine L’Engle affected me. These writers have
taught me many things, but the most important is:
"Thou canst not stir a reader
Without troubling a heart.”*
*an adaptation of poetic lines by Frances Thompson "The Mistress of Vision"
A Little More About This Book Loving Author
Laurie J. Edwards
is the author of more than 2200 articles and 30 books in print or forthcoming.
A student in the Hollins University MFA program in Children’s Writing and
Illustrating, she also juggles editing and illustration careers, while writing
fiction and nonfiction for children and adults under several pen names. As Erin
Johnson, she writes the YA Western series, WANTED, in which her heroine, Grace,
has been called “the Katniss of the West.” As Rachel J. Good, she writes the
SISTERS & FRIENDS Amish series. Visit her at www.lauriejedwards.com and www.racheljgood.com.
Thank you so much for this lovely homage to the books that shaped you, Laurie.