We’ve all read books that changed us, and in this new series, we ask SFF authors to tell us about one particular book that affected them in some important way — something as big as redirecting their life, or something as particular as changing their mind about a kind of story or a style of writing.
I was born into a sports family and by the time I entered college I was taking aim at a career as a sportswriter. I had good reason to think I’d make it: my father had been a catcher for the Red Sox, Phillies, and Cardinals and was a successful Triple-A manager in those days, so I grew up inside baseball. And I was a three-sport scholarship athlete in football, basketball, and baseball, so I knew those games well. I loved to read, I loved to write, and I knew my way around the diamonds, fields and courts. Sportswriting seemed natural, and by the time I was in college I was working for the school paper and also writing part-time for the local metro daily, covering high-school basketball and football. It was fun, it was easy, the paper published everything I wrote, and they paid me very well.
But within a few years I gave up that cushy sportswriting future and turned my attention to the much more difficult proposition of finding success as a science fiction writer, which wasn’t easy, and where most of what I wrote didn’t get published, and where they didn’t pay me very well at all. Why? Blame it on A Canticle for Leibowitz, by Walter M. Miller.