Writers I have known and loved
The first book I can remember really getting hooked on was James M Barrie’s Peter Pan It was probably the summer after third grade, because I remember struggling to read it, but persisting and reading it over and over. I’m pretty sure of the timing because it was summer, and by the following year my reading had taken a giant leap forward. I can no longer recall if my love affair with the book was before or after I saw Mary Martin play Peter on Broadway. The whole thing – fairies, Wonderland, Lost Boys, flying– captured my imagination. To this day I can recall the picture of Mary Martin soaring above the stage, clad all in green, and exclaiming in her gravelly voice, “I’m flying.”
I have told myself stories as far back as I can remember. I can recall being five or so and lying in bed at night and telling myself about a blue fairy. She wore a pale blue tulle outfit and had blue butterfly wings and carried a magic wand. My imagination painted a vivid picture, and the story would unroll on my mental movie screen. I still picture stories that way – seeing them unroll in my imagination, in pictures – before I write them. I’ve always thought of myself as auditory rather than visual, but in spite of this, I’ve always pictured stories running like a movie in my head. I still picture the scenes I write unrolling in my head before I consign them to paper.
By the time I finished fourth grade I was a huge book addict and haunted my local library looking for reading material. I became enamored of the Knights of the Round Table and Robin Hood, and devoured everything I could find in my local library. Since I lived in Manhattan, this was a rather old red brick building with a pretty large collection of material in the Children’s section. It was probably about this time that I discovered another writer who became a huge favorite of mine, Lewis Carroll. I fell in love with both the Alice books and with Carroll’s poetry, some of which I can still quote from memory. I loved the rhymes and the sly humor. I loved Jabberwocky and, even at the time, You Are Old, Father William.
By age ten, as well, I’d become a science fiction fan. I devoured the juveniles available in my local library – mostly Robert A. Heinlein. I loved his stories, mostly told in first person. The adventures of the boys, traveling to other planets, meeting aliens, and saving the universe, remain a favorite to this day.
By seventh grade I’d graduated to the adult section of the library and was now reading, in addition to Heinlein, Isaac Asimov, Andre Norton, and others. I was an excellent math student, but was often bored in class, and I’d read paperback sci fi novels on the sly in class. One day my math teacher, Mr. Block, caught me reading an Asimov time travel novel. All he said was, “I like Isaac Asimov, too.”
I was hugely relieved. Perhaps he, too, was bored in math class when he had been my age.
Paperback sci fi novels became available, and I would walk the three long blocks to the drug store where they sold the paperbacks at thirty-five or fifty cents each, as I recall I’d comb the shelves for anything I could find. I discovered Samuel Delany and Cordwainer Smith somewhere along in there. I can still recall the pictures the stories made in my head, especially Delaney’s classic Fall of the Towers. It was epic. It was confusing. It was riveting. It was unforgettable.
By my teens I was making my way around Manhattan, and frequented the Donnell branch of the public library, where I devoured Anne McCaffrey. I especially enjoyed the stories she wrote about psychics. Some of these are available once more.
Now I’m writing my own science fiction novels, painting my own vivid pictures and jotting them down on paper – or a computer screen – for others to read and enjoy.
Born and raised in New York City, Margaret Fieland has lived in the Boston area since 1978. She is an avid science fiction fan, and selected Robert A. Heinlein’s “Farmer in the Sky” for her tenth birthday, now long past. In spite of earning her living as a computer software engineer, she turned to one of her sons to put up the first version of her website, a clear indication of the computer generation gap. Thanks to her father’s relentless hounding, she can still recite the rules for pronoun agreement in both English and French. She can also write backwards and wiggle her ears. Her poems have appeared in journals such as Melusine, Front Range Review, and All Rights Reserved. She is one of the Poetic Muselings. Their poetry anthology, Lifelines, was published by Inkspotter Publishing in November, 2011. She is the author of Relocated, Geek Games, and Broken Bonds, published by MuseItUp Publishing, and of Sand in the Desert, a collection of science fiction persona poems. A chapter book is due out later this year.