Cherished Books Etc

I love starting a new year with good news! I found out my second series writing as Laurel McKee has been accepted, so happy early birthday to me. (My b-day is this Saturday, and I will probably spend most of it working on the Mary Queen of Scots WIP, which is moving slowly along. But if anyone wants to drop by and have a glass of champagne, I could be distracted!). The new series is Victorian-set, 1840s and ’50s (a new time period for me!), centering around a scandalous family of actors, gamblers, and all-around rogues, scoundrels, and charmers (even the women!). I am very excited about it.

I also found a fun book on my weekly trip to the library, Bound to Last: 30 Writers on Their Most Cherished Book. I love the “writers talking about favorite books” genre, because I often find new books I never came across before (like in this one–one author mentioned Kandinsky’s Concerning the Spiritual in Art). But mostly I love them because they give me such a sense of–well, of belonging. Of being part of the Tribe of Readers.

This is also the #1 most fun thing about writing–connecting with like-minded people and finding true friends. (Well, that and watching North & South over and over and calling it research work). When I was a child and a teenager, I was sometimes considered rather odd because I read so much and was so daydream-y all the time. I would just as soon read in the library (or on my closet floor or in the hammock) as do anything else, and most of my friends were either theater geeks or closet romance novel junkies like me. (We would sneak out to the parking lot to illicitly trade Johanna Lindsey and Virginia Henley paperbacks at lunch time). Teenage dating was a disappointing thing, due to the complete lack of dark, sardonic dukes at my high school (thanks so much, Barbara Cartland!). But there was no Internet yet, and I had never heard of RWA, so had no way of discovering the fact that My People were out there. Now I do, and I’m grateful for that every day.

I was trying to think of what my ‘most cherished book’ would be, but I just can’t narrow it down. I remember the first book I read all by myself (Eloise in Paris), my first romance novel (Marion Chesney’s At the Sign of the Golden Pineapple, picked up at a garage sale because I liked the cover girl’s pink-striped dress. Little did I know I was about to fall into the Regency…). My first Austen (Emma), first Bronte sisters (Jane Eyre), the so-called “orphan porn” books I adored (Secret Garden, Anne of Green Gables, and anything that featured a boarding school), stuff like I Capture the Castle, Gone With the Wind, the Sunfire YA romance series–they all changed my life. Every book I read changes my life in some way.

If my house was on fire and I could only grab one book, what would it be? After much careful consideration, I think it would be Janet Arnold’s Queen Elizabeth’s Wardrobe Unlock’d, because 1) it’s an expensive book, hard to replace, and an invaluable research source, and 2) it was a a gift from a very dear friend who has since died. But I would mourn the loss of the other books, like that battered first paperback of Jane Eyre, a college copy of Middlemarch with all my underlinings and notes, an old book about Waterloo that was my grandfather’s (who never read a book that wasn’t about war or presidents!), Shakespeare’s sonnets given to me by an old boyfriend, the list goes on and on and on.

What is your most cherished book?? Do you have a favorite memory of books?

About Amanda McCabe/Laurel McKee

Writer (as Amanda McCabe, Laurel McKee, Amanda Carmack), history geek, yoga enthusiast, pet owner!
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