I was reading something, I think it was Ken Liu’s interview in the May issue of Locus, and saw talk of where any particular author got their start, and how whatever story they tell is likely to be at least partly fictional, and that got me thinking about where my start was in genre.
I can tell the story of how I started writing sometime, but I feel like that’s less important, and in some ways I think it directly follows on how I got started as a fan of SFF. (As far as I can tell, all fans are also writers to some extent—we read these stories, and, at some point or another, we want to tell our own stories as well—it’s just that some folks continue writing, and others don’t.)
I grew up the child of fans. The first novel I remember having read to me, at the tender age of three or four, I think, was The Hobbit. I must have asked my dad to read it over to me half a dozen times over the next few years. My dad collects foreign-language editions of Tolkien’s bibliography, and as he read to me, if there were a choice illustration from another edition of the book that he thought would enhance my experience of the story, he would have it on hand. For many people, Peter Jackson’s depiction of Gollum is the be-all end-all; they cannot think of him any other way. For me, it was the illustration of “Riddles in the Dark” found in the Japanese edition of The Hobbit.
Afterwards, there were many other books and authors that followed who grew my love of story—Redwall, Terry Pratchett, Ursula K. Le Guin, Edward Eager, E. Nesbit—but my dad and Tolkien started me down the path I’m on.