When I was a wee bookworm, just old enough to bike places by myself, I used to bike to my local branch library about daily during the summer. There I would carefully select books from the youth fiction section, and check out just about everything in the fairy tale section. Now, as a librarian, I realize that they must have interfiled adult and juvenile nonfiction. But at the time, all of nonfiction felt like the grown-up section, and oh, did I feel it as I checked out books from there. There, amidst the Rainbow Fairy Books, I found a book called Beauty. It was a full novel-length retelling of the story of Beauty and the Beast. I loved it so much that I checked it out and re-read it every year for the next decade. When I graduated from college, I bought my own hardcover copy with Christmas money (and it’s really difficult to find hardcovers of teen books, especially if they’re not new.) I carried this book with me (and a rotating supply of one paperback) as I traveled around the world with Up with People for a year. I wish my camera was working so I could post a picture of the tattered cover, which I didn’t think to laminate before this ordeal. I still have it and read it whenever I’m feeling ill or beat-up. It was the book I turned to after some particularly icky bits in The Lovely Bones (which I never could finish) kept me up at night.
It wasn’t until high school that I began to think that maybe Robin McKinley might have written other books, and that these too might be worth reading. I read them all. When I was in college, I read them all aloud to my little brother (with the notable exception of Deerskin, as wonderful as that is.) My beloved read Beauty for me in a rare literary gesture of affection, and let me read The Hero and the Crown and The Blue Sword to him. There are quite a few books that I loved in youth that I just haven’t been able to go back to – A Little Princess and the earliest of the Dragonriders of Pern books, for example. But Robin McKinley is still wonderful every time I read her books.
It was in high school that I found someone else who liked Robin McKinley, and ever since then, I’ve found fans in the oddest of places, a little private world-wide club. We never really had to say much beyond smiling that we found another one, so this feels like an odd sort of coming out. I’ve never been the type to write fan mail to authors. (This LJ thing, where I now have three real published authors friended, is new and strange. Of course, I think only has friended me back. But it feels like I’ve just casually friended some deities. Do I stop thinking of my favorite authors as deities, or do I just accept that I have some goddesses in my f-list?)
A side note: I just noticed some references to home birth in her two most recent books. It’s pretty darn rare to find not-derogatory reference to home birth in current literature, and especially intriguing coming from a woman with no children. I am quite curious about this.
Another side note: Look, I wrote a whole long thing about how much I love an author without even attempting to describe why it is that the books speak so deeply to me. But I think that I’ve already gone on so long that I won’t try. Robin McKinley is just in my top 5, one of only three authors I try to collect complete works for, and you’re welcome to read her yourself to find out why.
Anyway, I recently friended . It feels rude to friend anonymously, so to speak, and this felt too long to put in a “Hi, I’ve friended you” comment. So here it is. My little biography of me and Robin McKinley.