In this ongoing series, we ask SF/F authors to describe a specialty in their lives that has nothing (or very little) to do with writing. Join us as we discover what draws authors to their various hobbies, how they fit into their daily lives, and how and they inform the author’s literary identity!
I’m fond of saying that I was raised by brontosaurs—not in the “thunder lizard” sense. In my childhood, the adults around me were gentle, stable, contemplative, and slow-moving. Ours was a house of happy quietness, comfortably dim, paneled in dark wood, festooned with relics of the past. Mice scrabbled at night, hunted by capable farm cats. Faithful dogs waited in the yard, eager to accompany us on the next adventure. Inside, hooped quilts-in-progress cascaded past a dulcimer, an autoharp, a spinet piano. There were nooks and mysterious paintings, figurines, a working Victrola, a life-sized knight made of tin, and chimney lamps that Mom would light when the power went out, which was pretty often in rural central Illinois. The main rooms all connected in such a way that if you kept wandering, following a circle, you would end up back where you started. Visitors often expressed surprise over how the house seemed bigger on the inside. Once-exterior windows peered into other rooms, because Dad was always building additions, not unlike Sarah Winchester. My childhood was a world of 8mm home movies with scripts, papier-mache, latex monster masks, and prehistoric play sets. The imagination was indulged and creativity was encouraged, even when these required making a mess. Always, there were books, because stories were as essential as air; stories were among the very best of God’s gifts.
Back in the shadows, glinting atop a worn desk, was an L. C. Smith typewriter from the early thirties. My aunt had saved up for it and bought it when she finished high school. By the time of my childhood, no one used it but me. I was taught the proper reverence for it, and then I was free to clack out my little stories on it. Thus the twig was bent; thus the seed was planted in me that would grow, nearly five decades later, into full-flowering typewriter mania.