Recently I remembered a book from junior high and was actually able to find a library copy for sale on Amazon. Published in 1987, the book, Will You Be My POSSLQ? By Eve Bunting, is about a Catholic girl, Jamie, who has survived kidney cancer, and is now at UCLA. She has a friend, Kyle, who needs a place to live and asks her to be his POSSLQ, Persons of the Opposite Sex Sharing Living Quarters. It’s actually quite a cute book for the age group, a good first romance for young adults.
During the book, Jamie returns to the hospital where she received treatment, to comfort the other patients on the pediatric cancer unit, and includes a secondary character who is watching his 16 year old girlfriend die. Surprisingly this was not a part of the book that I remember, but it undoubtedly what sucked me in.
Prior to getting hooked on bodice rippers and Scottish Highlanders *sigh* I was addicted to tragically sad books. I loved a book that made me cry, not just wipe a tear, but sob out loud. How better to achieve this to actually kill an innocent from something like cancer. I’m sure a therapist out there would have some reason with my emotional need to cry, or the obsession with this type of book.
My favorite author, I think I still have the books safely stowed under my parents’ house, was Lurlene McDaniel. She wrote a series called, One Last Wish, damn near every novel ended with a tragic but yet sweet loss of someone. The first book was a romance where the girl has Leukemia and an awesome inheritance. She creates a charity for those terminally ill children to grant one last wish, before she dies. Oh yes, Kleenex are required to read this one. All following books are individual stories of the children who get the last wish. They detailed the struggles of being ill and young, but the courage and bravery to fight whatever sickness was going to take their life
So why I bring this up, it occurred to me that these stories pieced together who I am as a writer. My passion and purpose when writing a novel is to emotionally connect with my readers. I want to make them cry or grab their chest in anticipation when they think someone is dead. I want them to squeal with my heroine when she gets her first kiss. I seriously think my fundamental reason for telling stories is to get someone else to cry with me, with my characters, with something powerful enough it resonates deep within them.
I also think these books, these building blocks of my hopeful career, started me out with a flair for dramatics. I seriously love killing off a character, or putting them through so much emotional and physically hell it’s painful to imagine one more thing is even possible. In one of my WIPs I killed off a character that made me cry for two days, his death still haunts me, but it made the story much more powerful.
I wonder how much of what we read as children/teenagers inspired us as adults, not only in what he currently read and write, but what we’ve chosen as a profession. What did you read as a kid that inspires you now as a writer? If not a writer, what did you read then that draws you to a new book/author today?