Although many books—The Boxcar Children, Anne of Green Gables, Mrs. Piggle Wiggle, Pippi Longstocking—stoked my love of reading as a child, the series that had the biggest impact on me was Brian Jacques’ Redwall books. It was the first series that moved me past enthusiastic reader to dedicated fan.
My friend and I read them together, starting in fifth grade. It was always a race to see who could get the newest release and read it first. This was crucial, because whoever read the book first got to pick how each name was pronounced. After suffering through Brianne saying “Cluny the Scourge” wrong EVERY SINGLE DAY, that was not something I was willing to risk ever again.
We spoke to each other like moles. We discussed which type of woodland creature we would be. (I was always torn between squirrel and otter. To be honest, I still am.) We picked which items from the lovingly described feasts we most wanted to eat. Together, we participated in the stories in a way I never had before.
That opened up a new world for me, one in which the words on the page were not the end, but the beginning. That hunger to participate in, and expand on something I loved shifted and grew until it became a hunger to create. Would I have become a writer without that series? Probably. But I’m so glad the seed was planted in such rich, fertile, and oddly vermin-filled land.