First let me begin by thanking @justicecaballin on Twitter for figuring out who the artist is for this picture. It is LackofA on Deviantart. Click the name for the link. Amazing Animorphs art!
Okay, on with the blog.
I belong to an Animorphs fan group on Facebook. This picture surfaced today and got me thinking about my "reading history," as they call it in graduate school.
Animorphs was the first book series I picked up on my own from a Scholastic Book Fair in the third grade, all the way back in 1997. I was immediately sucked into the brains of these kids who had to take on way more responsibility than their shoulders could hold. It was a series that didn't pull back any punches, didn't treat children like children, and had no problem describing in vivid detail a sixteen-year-old kid getting his stomach slashed open by a sabre and watching his guts spill onto the floor in front of him.
It was awesome.
It was also heartbreaking, breathtaking, and inspiring. Even today, I can't think about Rachel and Tobias without getting bleary-eyed. I think about how much I am like Marco, even though he seemed like such a strange person when I was younger.
It was that next summer I picked up a notebook and started scribbling my own stories. Now I'm in an MFA program with a published book and a manuscript I'm going to start shopping around this next year.
Yeah, yeah, there was Harry Potter, and God Save Queen Rowling, but there were also these two who were there for me before the boy who lived. It was one of those cases of "little sad lonely transfer girl needs a book right now," and the book shows up in a mysterious way. There sitting on the shelf, a chick turning into a dolphin, their story was there for me at a time when I had no friends, my parents were busy with the stupid baby, and I had not yet found my footing in my new world. Their story "got" me.
You know what I'm talking about, if you've ever had a book "get" you. You thought no one else's brain worked like yours, no one else was interested in the things you came up with in your imagination, and then one day, there it is all written out and saying, "I understand. Read this. You're going to love it."
Beyond the themes in this book, there is the kindness of the authors. In 2012, I wrote Michael Grant and Katherine Applegate to thank them for their book series. Michael Grant actually read part of the story I was writing. He did not have to even give my fan letter the time of day.
Today, I tweeted this picture of the kids who meant so much to me. Applegate retweeted it. Even after all these years, after all their fame and their adoring fans and other books they've moved on with, they too have a love for their series, a connection with their fans and their characters. I know that retweeting something seems like a small gesture, but it's really not. Anyone who has had their mind exploded by a twitterfeed, anyone who has followed an author, knows that it takes a special sort of person to really interact, to really care, to really sift through all of those notifications.
I strive to be that sort of author. And I am the (growing) author I currently am, because of them. It's silly how people you've never met can be such a driving force in your growth as an artist.
So thank you. Thanks for getting me hooked on reading and writing, and not only writing, but writing something that may be a little weird but has all of my heart attached. Thank you for telling war the way it is, thank you for showing us kids who are struggling with anger, depression, grief, and real honest love.
And if any of you readers have not looked into Animorphs, do it now. Go out and get a copy and read read read (the first few books are now on Kindle).
What is this?
Dawson is an editor and writer and MFA student at Stonecoast. She writes stuff.