As many of my readers already know, my mother passed away on a cruise ship last Monday, July 2, 2018. Her Memorial Service was today.
Thinking about my mom, I am grateful that she introduced me to reading for pleasure. She was an avid reader, and she saw how bored I would get with children’s books. She introduced me to Stephen King when I was twelve years old. Today, that introduction does not seem like a big deal because kids are exposed to adult issues at a very young age, thanks to social media and Netflix. Back in the Dark Ages when I was twelve, we had books, the kind that you held. Back in the Dark Ages, I found out about sex, like graphic sex described in detail, by reading Stephen King. My mom took a risk and let me read adult books, and little did she know that she would set me on a path as a writer.
I remember she had two bottom shelves in her bedroom that were filled with Stephen King and Dean Koontz, and she said you could read any of these books. That was it; I became lost in stories of horror, and I ate it up. I had no idea that people actually made a living about stories that were scary and so much fun to read. I started with, of course, Salem’s Lot, then Carrie, then The Dead Zone, and just kept going. Two books, The Shining and The Stand, showed me the power of words and how a writer could master a technique in words that could just slam the reader. In The Shining, there was a scene that involved animal topiaries–you know animals cut in shapes from bushes. They moved if you looked away from them, and they came closer. Think of the Weeping Angels from Dr. Who. That whole scene involving those bushes cut into animals gave me nightmares. In The Stand, it was a sentence that made me almost vomit, and it was simply a sentence that described how a character overdosed on pills and choked on his vomit in his sleep, but the way it was written came out of the blue and hit me in the stomach.
As I read stories that entertained me, I began to look at the layers underneath the stories. I learned about symbolism. I began reaching for other writers, and mom introduced me to Harlan Ellison and my favorite line of all time, “I have no mouth, and I must scream.” I remember in high school, I loved writing papers about Virgil’s Aeneid (I had to translate the damn thing) because I was able to connect the symbolism and the foreshadowing underneath the plot. To this day, the books I enjoy are those with layers, and the television series that I enjoy are those series with layers and a complete running story from beginning to end. Blow my mind. I want A Game of Thrones “Hold the Door” moment, where I did not see that end coming. It’s little wonder that I pushed myself to earn a Ph.D. in Humanities with a specialization in Literature and wrote a book that was filled with symbolism.
So thinking back about my mom, I can say that she introduced me to the power of a good story and set me on a path as a writer. That’s something to be incredibly grateful for–to be set on that path of creativity.
I will miss her.