Tuesday, February 21, 2012

How Books Work

I started writing my current work-in-progress because of something my dad said. Or, rather, something my dad wrote. He keeps a blog where he chronicles family history, his own opinions, and a little bit of everything else. In one entry, he wrote about the magic of books and how they saved him when he was a poor boy in Eastern Kentucky. They took him places, into other countries and other times. I decided to write about a little boy in Eastern Kentucky who discovers a magic library. That's all I had, really. Little boy character based mostly on my dad meets magical library in the woods. Notice, I didn't say anything about a time-traveling library.

That's the thing about writing stories. Once you start putting the words down, the characters take on lives of their own. Well, one of my characters started explaining to another character that the books on the shelf were purchased in the year 3000. How? The librarian visited different periods of history (and the future) to gather books and fill the shelves. Then, come to find out, the people who created the magic library are the grandchildren of the kids visiting the library. Now, despite my aversion to time-travel with all of its loophole possibilities, I sit surrounded by family tree diagrams and lists of books published in certain years, piecing together a story that is really a love letter to my father.

I swore I would never write time-travel fiction. I struggle, honestly, to even read time-travel fiction. I tried and failed to read The Time Traveler's Wife, despite some of my most kindred spirits loving it. My dad has a couple of great ideas for time-travel stories. I mean, seriously awesome ideas. Me? I don't even enjoy Back to the Future, the cult classic of all cult classics when it comes to time-travel. Yet, here I am, 25,000 words into a YA/Children's novel in which a magical library travels through time to preserve the written word and to change the lives of two kids who discover it.

That's how books work, whether you are reading them or writing them. They take you away from where you are to somewhere you never imagined you could be.

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