When Dragons Opened the Door

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Source: reginaspics, CC0 via Pixabay

I was sitting here today, wondering what to blog about and feeling really guilty, when I read Michael J. Sullivan’s post about J.R.R. Tolkien. He and other fantasy authors celebrated Tolkien’s birthday (January 3, 1892) by talking about what Tolkien meant to them. Tolkien’s fantasy worlds were an inspiration for a lot of writers! When I was in high school, the Lord of the Rings trilogy was being made into movies, and my friends were fans. It was the movies that led to me owning and reading the books. I even went to a birthday party dressed as a hobbit. I wore boots, though.

It made me think about how great it is that writers become inspired by the writers that came before them. It’s an encouraging idea, that someone might be inspired one day by something you wrote. So while I did love Lord of the Rings, I began to wonder what authors inspired my love for the fantasy genre. And yes, I know I’m not a published author with a book series and fan following, but my creative writing revolves largely around fantasy elements. So there.

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Source: sherisetj, CC0 via Pixabay

When I was a kid, I became obsessed with dragons. I remember seeing my classmate draw a picture of a dragon in elementary school and being stunned – both by the kid’s talent, and how interesting and cool that dragon looked. It was a traditional Chinese dragon, with the long snake-like body, and something just clicked inside my head. My gifts gradually became dragon-themed: clothes, toys, everything.

So it wasn’t surprising when I got a book about dragons. I was already an avid reader – I read whatever stories I could get my hands on. But this book was different. Written by Anne McCaffrey, Dragonflight was a book about dragons and the people who bonded to them. I was instantly hooked and dove deeper into the Dragonriders of Pern universe. The idea of having a dragon as a lifelong companion, one that was connected to your very mind and thoughts, was just amazing to me. And while McCaffrey’s books are science fiction and not fantasy, it opened the door to my love of the fantasy genre.

Brian Jacques’ Redwall series was another one that I coveted, quite possibly because it featured talking animals. Mice, badgers, rats, and more were anthropomorphized and lived like people – they wore clothes, brandished swords, and lived in structures that they built. I used to take all my animal toys and pretend that they could do that, too, so you could imagine why I loved these books. I have held onto a few more fantasy books from my childhood: Robin McKinley’s The Hero and the Crown, Tamora Pierce’s Magic Steps, and Ciruelo’s The Book of the Dragon. However you look at it, dragons started all of this!

Since then, I’ve read the entirety of Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time series, some of Terry Goodkind’s The Sword of Truth series, and am listening to Jack Campbell’s The Pillars of Reality series. What authors inspired you to write (or read) your preferred genre of choice?

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