Despite the best efforts of my parents, I grew up weird. They tried to interest me in wholesome, appropriate activities like horseback riding and ballet and in return I spent hours laying on my floor with my arms crossed over my chest wondering what a grave felt like. I don’t know why I did it. My sister is incredibly (by most standards) “normal,” in the sense of NOT being fascinated by things like death or witchcraft. I can’t tell you why some little girls become Misty of Chincoteague and others become Wednesday Addams. All I know is that I spent a lot of my childhood learning about various afterlifes, mummification, and Victorian memento mori.
My mother, who tried so damn hard to make me “normal,” did her best to keep me in books. She felt books were a safe place for my mind and they kept me out of trouble. I was a voracious reader and devoured any book placed in my hands. My mother was a teacher and would work the yearly Scholastic Book Fair, always squirreling away some books for me. That’s how I think Garth Nix’s Sabriel, one of the foundational books of my life, first found its way into my hands. I don’t think my mother had read the back of the book, or else she would have never given it to me. She saw the paperback cover, recognized it as a fantasy novel in the same vein as the others stacked high in my bedroom, and figured it would be fine.