I remember the smell of my first elementary school’s library: dust, aging pages, and a hint of peanut butter and honey. Actually, the PB & honey was probably left over from the lunch I raced through. All I wanted was more time in the stacks. I’d race to the V shelf, grab Jumanji and curl up in the cozy beanbag. I know I read other books, but Jumanji was the one I returned to day after day, escaping into a world where magic spilled over into the real world, and where kids had to become heroes whether they liked it or not.

No matter what book I’m working on, I’ve realized that I’m trying to recreate the feeling of that book. I want to create a world that first I, and then my reader, can slip away into. Of course, that experience requires excitement, high stakes, strong characters, lyrical writing and imagery, but underneath the writing craft, for me, stories are doorways.

How about you? What do you remember about yourself as a young reader? What might that young reader have to teach you now about the stories you might try reading, or the ones you might need to write?

What do you remember about yourself as a young reader? I remember reading Jumanji and escaping into the world, imagining what might happen if magic spilled over into my world. Now, I write with that feeling in mind.