That’s my editorial committee pictured on the right. From the left, Grace, Zizi, and Zachary.
My desire to write originated in the nightly story-time sessions we’ve always had and the difficulty I was having finding new fiction that they enjoyed. Classics are good, and we’ve always included them in our library, but I’m convinced that there’s lots of good work out there — we just need to find it.
They want to be entertained at story-time, but they also demand substance. They loved, loved, loved, Richard Adams’ Watership Down. They thought that Jack London’s Call of the Wild was perfect. As was Trenton Lee Stewart’s The Mysterious Benedict Society. We read all three books in that series. As their guide and parent, I felt confident that these were books with substance and literary merit.
As they grew more sophisticated, it became increasingly difficult to find books that satisfied them. They wanted more out of their reading, developing a taste for non-fiction, which I found primarily in biographies and memoirs. We read Adeline Yen Mah’s Chinese Cinderella and Zachary came out with an interest in Chinese history and culture. So when I wondered out loud one night, that perhaps I might try to write something, they were enthusiastic in their encouragement.
So it began, and throughout the process, they’ve been there, criticizing and supporting. We read the drafts together, as I produced them, and they often suggested changes. Their criticisms were pointed and useful. I was surprised, but I’ve learned not to doubt their intelligence; they’re kids, but they see, hear, and understand the same as any adult I know. They’re just not able to do as much and they lack experience but they understand that too.
Anyway, I just wanted to acknowledge publicly the important part they played in the production of The Obeahman’s Dagger. Writing really is a lonely business and it’s up to you, the writer, to get those words out, and to find ways to motivate yourself to keep writing, day after day. I was lucky to have them, staying with me as I worked through the several drafts it took to get it right. (I think a lot of Dostoevsky, writing whole novels in one go, first draft ready for publication. I couldn’t do that.)
I’ve learned much on this journey and the company has been excellent.