Take You Into Other Worlds
I started reading at a very young age and read all the time.1 If I wasn’t out there being a wild tomboy, I was reading a book, I kind of went to extremes. And so, the beauty of language first came to me through books. I remember once — being ill can sometimes be good because you’d be confined to bed, and then you get to read more. And I remember reading T.H. White’s The Once and Future King when I had a very bad case of bronchitis. And I had the first awareness of, “Oh!” — there’s a scene in there, where the protagonist is turned by Merlin into a fish, into a deer, into all these animals, and assumes the consciousness of those creatures.2 And I was thrilled. I thought oh, that’s what writing can do, take you into other worlds, just like the costumes I used to put on. They were portals into other dimensions of imagination, these books. So, then I just sort of found through the responses of teachers in high school, it started in high school mainly, Convent of the Sacred Heart.
The nuns with the English teachers would say — would read my stuff aloud in classes, very embarrassing, I was very shy at that point, could barely speak.3 And she would read, “Here’s Melissa Brown’s essay on — her short story on the old man” or something. I would always write about old people or some people really exotic. And now I am one practically.