I can’t say that it was the moment that I decided to be a writer, but it was the moment that I knew the worlds in of my imagination were better than the world I was living in. Considering the nature of writers, maybe that was the moment.
I spent a lot of my summers in Germany. If you close your eyes and picture a little village nestled in the forest, that would be where my family lived. It’s where I fell in love with my first pair of shoes, red clogs with a white apple on each. I have never loved a shoe as much as I loved those clogs. I would go to the baker for my Oma and the butcher too. The butcher always gave me the pigs tail – and my Tante Emma’s dog, Betsy would wait for me outside the shop knowing I would have a special treat for her.
It was in Germany that I fell in love with Victoria Holt. My Mom or my Oma would pack me a lunch in my little rucksack, and in the fairy tale tradition of chubby little German children, off into the woods I would go. There was a “mountain”, at least to wee me it was a mountain, it was really a big hill, with a rock face. I would later find out that my real grandfather, the one I never knew, would go up there with his trumpet on Saturday nights and play, his music echoing into the village below. If I had known about him then I might have asked questions, like why didn’t he want to know me and my Mom, and how did he hike all the way up to the edge of the cliff with just one leg? He had lost the other in the war. I thought it was tough with two.
Anyway, there was a man in the village, his daughter died. She loved hiking in the woods as much as I did, and as a memorial to her, he built 4 wells along the path. I am sure it was mapped out. A well at a certain length, but it always seemed to me, that once I was thirsty, a well would appear. The fourth well is where I would stop for lunch, and while I ate my ham brochen, and drank ice cold spring water, I would read the books my Tante Rickten brought home from the army base she worked on, and they were all Victoria Holt. I would devour them. Sitting by that well reading those books are probably my favorite memories of childhood. As I got older I would develop an interest in history, and I would discover that my gal Victoria had used some historical events as background for her stories. When I read about The Mayerling Incident, my first thought wasn’t “Wow, this changed everything in Europe and led directly to World War I.” No, I thought “GASP! That is exactly what happened to Pippa’s sister in The Judas Kiss!”
I had every one of Victoria Holt’s books, but I hadn’t found a good space for them yet, So Victoria and her friend in Marika shelvery, Barbara Michaels were in a box in the shed, and they were ruined. All of them.
I’m luckier than most, my most treasured Elizabeth Peters, were inside. My books can be replaced. I was so scared about losing my little place to Irma, and seeing what happened to my friends home when Harvey came calling, well I feel a little bit ashamed of myself.
Anyway, today I started hunting for new Vickys, and new Barbs too … The beginning of my new collection.