While a person's identity is ever-changing, there has always been one element to mine that I haven't been able to shake – I'm an obsessive, fangirling bookworm who would happily live in a tent outside Barnes & Noble.
I've spent years immersed in the world of young adult fiction, and it has had a profound impact on my life. I fell so deeply in love with reading that I ached to tell my own stories and share them with the world. Thanks to several token novels throughout my youth, I learned how to embrace my quiet quirks to become a writer.
'Harry Potter' taught me how to feel at home in myself
I’ve read the “Harry Potter” series 13 times and continue to reread them. This may seem like a little much, but this series, along with many others, has shaped me and my goal to be a writer permanently.
While I abhor the transphobic actions and words of J.K. Rowling, the series itself has remained one of the most prolific for me due to its world building.
I grew up a relatively isolated kid by choice. I never took much interest in playing tag or house on the playground — I preferred to read instead. However, the downfall of this was that I didn't connect much with those around my age. I felt like an outsider.
So I found solace in bonding with Harry, who was an outsider in his own right. Just like me, Harry was alienated for being different, and when he made it to Hogwarts, he made friends who never judged him, and they went on a series of wild adventures.
It was these friendships, adventures and magic that poured through every page that held my attention for my many consecutive reads. By reading these books, I was living vicariously through this, and thanks to the “Harry Potter” characters, I felt less alone.
Through the books, I found peace in the majesty surrounding the Wizarding World.
'Narnia' taught me my technique
Where "Harry Potter" was an escape, the "The Chronicles of Narnia" novels made me fall deeper in love with writing. These books instilled my affinity for fantasy and adventure, and "Narnia" is what taught me the concept of world building — the very thing I loved so much about "Harry Potter."
While C.S. Lewis wrote his seven-book saga nearly 70 years ago, the history of "Narnia" and the journey of the Pevensie children has lived on in my heart and mind.
Lewis' world began with the creation of Narnia and a treaty between the land's mythical creatures and their queen.
As a young child, I didn't quite appreciate the immense details. After picking up the series years later, I began to take note of just how beautiful and important the history of the land itself was to the collection's plot and characters.
Readers are introduced to the Narnian bylaws in the first volume in the series, "The Magician's Nephew," and the bylaws help to tie together the lore, even when the land seems to cease existing. Lewis' mastery of planting seeds at the beginning of a series that grow throughout was inspiring, and I knew I wanted to incorporate that into my own writing.
"Narnia" inspired me to embark on a similar literary journey — one where I could write something that gave me just as much joy as the collection's thrilling battles and heartwarming relationships did, which is how my book would begin years later. Reading the "Narnia" series gave me hope that someday I would be able to inspire another child, just as those books had inspired me.
This desire has stuck with me for many years, but out of fear, I didn't know how to get started on my own.
'The Hunger Games' taught me to stand tall
Suzanne Collins' "Hunger Games" trilogy showed me how to act confidently and served as a much-needed confidence boost.
As a teenager, I looked up to Katniss Everdeen and her willingness to sacrifice everything for her beliefs. She gained power through standing up for others and bettering the world around her, even if it seemed destined to kill her.
Katniss' characteristics lit a fire inside of me, helping me strive to be passionate and dedicated to everything I do. While I am not risking my life for my sibling like Katniss, I take her energy into account with my everyday actions.
Because of Katniss, I decided to challenge myself and conquer my own obstacles — tossing my fears of failure and criticism aside and deciding to write my own book.
It didn't matter who didn't like it as long as it inspired one person because just like I saw through Katniss, one spark can light up a forest.
So, I carry all the messages and themes from these book series with me.
Whether I'm the next Suzanne Collins or not, the only thing that will matter is that I, too, will inspire another child someday.
Maybe they'll write about how my work helped them, and that is enough for me.
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