Tuesday, June 8, 2010
The Biblio Files, Part Two: Ex Libris Donna Carrick
All this week at the Den we’ll be exploring our love affair with reading through various contributors. I’ve asked a diverse group of people what their thoughts are on books, and how they’ve inspired us.
Without further ado, I am happy to present author Donna Carrick ...
Why Do I Love (Reading and Writing) Books?
by Donna Carrick
Whew – this is a loaded question!
When Twitter pal and fellow book-lover David Hunter (known to his friends as @TheWritersDen) asked me to participate in this week’s discussion, I jumped at the chance. After all, I’m a bibliophile, right? Surely, with the exception of family, there can be no greater love than the one I feel for the stories I harbour in my memory.
Then I re-read David’s request. Took a second look, so to speak. Realised the crux of the question was not ‘whether’, ‘how’ or ‘how much’ I love books, but WHY I love them. Oooh – that’s a tough one…
Books have always played a central role in my life. I’ve never considered existing without them. The thought is terrifying. From the moment I learned to read, I’ve always had a book in my hand, purse, or on my nightstand. I don’t know what it’s like not to be part way through a book, with another waiting to be read.
On top of that, I’ve published three mysteries and I’m married to a writer! (Insurance, perhaps, against the fear of having nothing to read?)
My parents were not big readers. My father grew up during the Great Depression and was lucky to have achieved a grade eight education. My mother surpassed him with her grade eleven, but was forced to leave high school prior to graduation to care for her mother.
They could both read quite well, but I don’t recall ever seeing them do so for pleasure. Their primary printed resource was the T. Eaton’s Catalogue, hardly the literary playground of princely imaginations.
After their deaths I discovered boxes filled with reams of curled up pages wrapped lovingly in satin ribbons – letters from my father to my mother written in the early days of their relationship. Thousands of pages, composed by a young man separated from his sweetheart, an expression of his yearning and isolation, crafted in places as lonesome and unreachable as Moisie, Quebec and Cold Lake, Alberta.
As a child I read constantly. Even now, if I listen closely, I can hear my mother calling, “Get your nose out of that book, Donna, and come to dinner!”
Why the intense passion for writing? Was it merely an extension of my love for reading? Or was it some innate driving force passed down by my father?
I wasn’t aware of it then, but my love for books was a clichéd desire for escape. My family was not a happy one. There are parts of my childhood that I still find impossible to speak about. Books carried me away to other lands, to other families, to times of nobility and beauty and grace. Times of heroism and even of simple respect.
That explains my love of reading. I can still recall the power those words lent to a frightened child – still hear the rush of freedom in my ears as I was transported by those stories.
I suppose I write the stories I used to read, the stories that explain who I am, why I am and what is to become of me. Of course, I do so through the convenient vehicle we call characters – each one possessing his share of nobility and his own tenuous understanding of the human condition.
In the end, for me at least, the reasons I write are quite separate from my love for reading. I read for the thrill of escape, to be swept away from the everyday routines into the greater landscape of ‘imagination’.
When I write, though, I am often keenly aware of the lost child within. I become someone else, someone with greater courage and the will to battle the wrongs of this world.
I write, quite simply, to say the things I cannot say aloud.
Donna Carrick is the author of three literary mysteries: The First Excellence, Gold And Fishes and The Noon God. Donna's books are available through Amazon.com or at her Website: www.donnacarrick.com .
You can Tweet with Donna @Donna_Carrick or join me on FaceBook.