It’s been three years since I published my first novel, The Assassin. Three years is a long time when you’re in your twenties and over the past few years, as a reader and writer, I’ve grown to appreciate the love for women in books. The women in books have influenced my life for a long time and in nod to the women I’m creating in my books.
When I was in first grade, we used to read Junie B. Jones books in class. We started in the middle of the series, so I remember picking up an early book from the school library and reading the whole book in a day. Now, I don’t even remember the book or the impact Junie B. had on me, but those books were some of the earliest memories I have of a girl leading the way in a book.
The next big memory I have is from fourth grade, when I picked up a Royal Diaries book about Elizabeth I. Each of those books had historical information in the back of the book and I discovered Henry VIII and his six wives. Real people, real women who lost their heads over this man. That one book opened me up to so many books I read as a child. Books that talked about some really adult subjects. These women in these books, these real women who had lives, were tough, defied odds, and even the ones I might find boring, they all made their mark on history.
As a teenager in high school, I read the Vampire Academy series, where the main character, Rose, considers killing her lover because he’s become a breed of vampire that just wants to kill. As a high schooler, I remember having to pause the reading of this series so I could study for finals, and I remember walking around with a hole in my chest because the story of Rose hit me so hard.
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Even when I re-read the series in college, it still hit me like a ton of bricks. I bet if I read it again (Which I might do in early 2019), Rose will still have the same impact on me.
I was thirteen when I first started writing The Assassin, in a little lime green notebook. Back then, I didn’t expect anything out of writing. I didn’t know anything about creating well-rounded characters, or about putting them into tough situations. I knew nothing about how to make a character that had an impact. Looking back now, I realize how much strong, slightly messed up women (both real and fictional) have impacted my life.
Without the women in books, I would have never realized some of the values I want out of my life or out of my characters. Women in books have had a profound impact on my life, and I hope they continue to do so. I hope at some point, my characters have an impact on someone else’s life.
To read the second part of this essay, visit my pen name at Laura Teagan.