These Words Matter: Christa Desir

My parents weren’t exactly the hovering type. By the time I was in third grade, I was a latchkey kid because they both worked. My older sister and I would get up to all sorts of shenanigans in those afternoons, but after a while she went off with her friends and I was left alone.

I didn’t go to the library as a kid. It wasn’t a thing for us, or really anyone I knew. I got one book a week from the school library, but I’ve always been such a fast reader that the book maybe lasted me one day.

These Words Matter: Christa Desir

Which left me with my parents’ bookshelf. I wish I could say I became a reader because of all the wonderful children’s books I had access to, but that wouldn’t be the truth. In fourth grade, I pulled Stephen King’s Carrie off my mom’s bookshelf and that was sort of it for me. I read every book he wrote, anything my parents had, and eventually I started bugging my friends to see if they had access to the books of his I hadn’t read.

It’s a funny thing when I think about protecting my kids from certain things by limiting access to the books they read. The truth is, I was not protected in my book choices and adult literature did not ruin me as a young reader. Stephen King wasn’t a gateway into me working the streets and sampling crack. Stephen King wrote stories that scared the living shit out of me, but I loved every minute of it. His books became my companions when I was so lonely in my house.

They introduced me into a world of imagination and an escape from the hard things of my life in a way that nothing else had.

I sometimes wonder if my life as a reader or writer might’ve been different if the books I devoured when I was young were more age-appropriate. Honestly, I don’t know. My writing is done with a fearlessness I might not have if I were more protected as a child. I know I don’t hold back on uncomfortable things, but I also don’t regret the choices I make or wish I wrote differently. I want to reach readers who are like how I was as a kid–maybe lonely, maybe looking for a way to connect, maybe looking to feel understood. I’ve never written safe books, and I guess I never really read safe books. Yet, I am grateful for Stephen King because I don’t think at that difficult time in my life anything else would have connected with me in the same way.

Christa Desir is the YA author of Bleed Like Me and Fault Line. She regularly blogs and edits romance novels. 50% of the proceeds of Christa’s Fault Line go to the Voices and Faces Survivor Testimonial Writing Workshop. She lives outside of Chicago with her husband and three children.

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