The main reason I started writing was because, first and foremost, I’m a reader. I love to read, most kinds of fiction, every day, sometimes all day.
And then, a while back, I went and put myself into a situation where I ran out of books to read.
This was years ago, in the time before ebooks. I was working as a volunteer in Zambia, on the banks of Lake Kariba, a man-made lake a little way down the Zambezi River from the Victoria Falls. It was a stunningly beautiful place, and the experience was life-changing. It was also far, far from any source of books.
Occasionally, we’d make the journey to the capital, Lusaka, (a trip involving boats, motorbikes and 4-wheel drives) and I’d visit the British library and stock up on whatever I could find. And my lovely mother (also a voracious reader) would send me parcels. The occasional visitor would take pity and leave a book behind.
But it wasn’t enough. Nowhere near enough.
And I suffered horrendous withdrawal symptoms.
One of my jobs was running training courses for the people who had been displaced when the Kariba damn was built, so I had access to a lap top (a huge thing run by solar power as we had no mains electricity) and in one particularly low point (I think I’d just finished The Lord of the Rings—one of the books I took with me—for about the fifth time) I decided, my only recourse was to write my own.
And I loved it.
Now I write just about every day… sometimes all day.
Some of the biggest, most life-changing things come about because of something seemingly unconnected. I never planned to become a writer, but now I can’t envisage a different existence. And all because I ran out of books to read.
Have you ever been in any situations that forced you into trying something new? Something you’d hadn’t considered before, but which has changed your life in ways you never expected?