We Are Family: Genetic Version By Design
You don’t get to choose your family, right? And there were times when I really wished I could. Like the time I asked my mom to pick me up from school on time for a change, because it sucked always being the last kid there.
Well my mother is a woman of many, devious talents and a sick sense of humour. She retaliated by sending my granddad to pick me up instead. And he did it with great enthusiasm, in his big sky-blue lorry, honking horn and all. I did not complain again. Teenage egos don’t stand up to big, blue honking lorries.
We Are Family: Literary Version By Choice
Anyway, someone recently asked me how I ended up being a writer. I couldn’t help but smile. They actually thought it was a choice. I don’t think there was a time when I wasn’t a writer, but it got me thinking. Writing comes from reading and I have always read. Given my family, you can understand my aptitude for escapism. I started young. Enid Blyton with her tree, and Carolynn Keene with her titian-haired detective, Nancy Drew.
These books showed me a world, other than the one I lived in. They showed me that I could dream. That I could go places. That I could make up stories. Each of the writers I read affected my writing in one way or the other. They are all there in every word I write.
Michael Robotham also speaks about his childhood influences in this beautiful story about Ray Bradbury.
He wrote: “Ray Bradbury was once quoted as saying: ‘Jules Verne was my father. H.G. Wells was my wise uncle. Poe was the bat-winged cousin we kept in the attic. Flash Gordon and Buck Rogers were my brothers. And Mary Shelley was my mother. There you have my ancestry.’
If that’s the case, then Ray Bradbury was my father and J.R. Tolkien my eccentric uncle and Steinbeck and Hemingway my older brothers.”
And then I started wondering, who would my literary family be?
- Roald Dahl would be my father.
- Dalene Matthee my mother.
- Tim Burton would be my attic dwelling, bat-winged uncle.
- Wilbur Smith, my unwanted stepdad.
- Janet Evanovich would be my sister.
Why Did I Choose Them?
- Roald Dahl survived the transition from childhood to adulthood. I still read his books, Revolting Rhymes being a particular favourite. His short stories never fail to amaze me or to freak me out.
- I fell in love with Dalene Matthee somewhere around 13. She is a South African author who writes in Afrikaans, but is widely translated. Circles in a Forest is my favourite book of all time. Her stories, her characters and her settings just make me want to live in her books.
- If I could spend a day as anyone, I would like to be Tim Burton. I would probably spend the rest of my life in an asylum, but that is a risk I am willing to take. Consider The Melancholy Death of Oyster Boy mandatory reading.
- I read a lot of Wilbur Smith when I was young. Today, I can’t read a single page, but he is there in very over-written flowery description I have to work very hard to get rid of.
- And Janet Evanovich, what can I say? She has lightened loads, barged uninvited into conversations and made me laugh until tears poured down my face. I don’t have a sister, but if I did that would be her job description.
Who would you choose for your literary family?
by Mia Botha
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