Sunday, August 15, 2010

One Writer's Life

The following guest speaks close to my heart as I'm also a teacher. Please welcome Allison Knight as my guest blogger. I hope you enjoy her story as much as I did.

Have you ever wondered about the life of the author of the book you are reading? What kind of a person writes about space aliens, or who envisions tales of a mass murderer? How about the author of a spicy romance? Exactly what kind of a person are they - in real life? Because, lets face it, a fiction writer is involved in a world of pretend. More often than not, they're nothing like the characters who people their books.

I never gave the 'real' life of an author a thought, until some interesting things happened in me that were directly related to my writing romances and the way people perceive me.

Let me start at the beginning of my fiction writing career. Here I was, a forty something, I been teaching Home Economics for years, I was mother of four, plump, and viewed as a grandmotherly type. In fact, more than once in a classroom, I got called grandma. So, you get the idea. Picture what you would imagine the typical Home Economics teacher of forty years ago to be.

Then try and imagine the shock of the other teachers who had no idea you were writing anything, when, at a teachers' meeting, your principal pulls your first romance from his briefcase and asks you to autograph it. Of course, in those days, the covers always featured the heroine and the hero leaving nothing to the imagination as to what kind of book it was. And at the time, romance novels were considered little more than trash. Quite a few people insisted they had little value and there was nothing worthwhile about them.

But it didn't end at the meeting. My principal insisted, before our assembled teachers that I had to include him in my next book. At the time my thought was, "Yea! I'll make you a villain." Of course I didn't say it.
I even made radio in those days. Paul Harvey, on his midday show, commented there was a Michigan teacher telling her students about family living during the day and writing romance novels at night. That raised a few eyebrows at school. I didn't hear the program. I was busy teaching and telling my students to put my book away because they couldn't read during class. But, believe me, I heard about Mr. Harvey's comments.

There was one shining moment in my early career as an author and I'd like to share that because it gives purpose to what I do. One afternoon, as I hurried to the workroom for something, (I don't remember what) one of my male students stopped me in the hall. He wanted to know if he could talk to me. He wanted to talk about my novel. By this time, I got a bit defensive if anyone said they wanted to talk about MY book.

He indicated he wished to have his say someplace private, not in the hallway, so we went to a corner of the library. I assured him we would talk, and I figured, oh boy, here it comes again! Another - shame on you, or how could you, or my parents.... I'd heard it all before.

Imagine my shock when he said he'd read my book and then sheepishly, admitted he'd never read a whole book before. I was stunned. He was a junior in high school. I don't know why, but I asked him if he like it. He said, yes, he did. But the story doesn't end there.

Two years later, in the fall, I was shopping in our local mall and stopped at the book store. Here came my student from the back of the store, his arms full of books. He had a stack of five or six hardback novels, and not small ones, by any means. He greeted me and said, "See what you've done to me. Now I spent all my spare money on books." At that moment I knew why I wrote fiction. If nothing else, I had inspired one young man to read a book and once he discovered how wonderful the experience was, he had to have more of it.

Now, when I get a bit discouraged, and wonder why I keep plugging away at the computer, I remember my student. It's worth my hard work if through my books another young person can experience the joy of immersing themselves in the world of make believe.

So, the next time you read a book, you might give a thought to the life of the author. Just what are they like, what kind of life do they live and why are they writing fiction. I'll bet they are much like you and me and I can tell you now, they write because it's in their blood; they have to write. And like me, they have probably experienced something that gives them the incentive to keep writing.

Allison Knight writes "Heart-warming Romance with a Sensual Touch"
Her books can be found at


Stacey said...

Great post, Allison. Touching story about your student.

Kat Hall said...

I recently was on a mini vacation with most of my grandchildren there. My youngest granddaughter had saved money and bought an e-book reader from E-Bay and was waiting patiently for it to arrive in the mail. I had mine with me and the middle granddaughter took a boo at it and was so enthralled that she made her Xmas request right then. My youngest granddaughter got the Sony PR300 while I have the 600 which is the touch. She is an avid reader and at the age of 14, loves her romance books.

Kayelle Allen said...

I enjoyed reading this and was thrilled to hear about your student. That makes both kinds of work worthwhile, doesn't it?

Jude Johnson said...

Great post, Allison. Validation comes when you need it most, and what greater blessing than to turn someone on to the power and joy of reading, no matter the format. Well done and congratulations.


Linda LaRoque said...

An inspiring story, Allison. Your student will always remember who inspired him to read.

Jude Johnson said...

Talk about instant validation! What a thrill - and a great source of inspiration. Well done.

Vanessa A. Johnson said...

This was a nice article. My first book was non-fiction, so I didn't have any trouble with what I wrote. Many of my coworkers bought my book, and I was delighted when my boss, The Sheriff of my small town, said he wanted to purchase an autograph copy. I'm retired now, so I'm free to write whatever I want. I, too, would be delighted if one of my books inspired a person (young or old) to read. Thanks for sharing.

Ciara Gold said...

Thanks, everyone for stopping by to read and a big thank you to Allison for sharing her story. I can only hope to touch a young writer this way.

Allison Knight said...

Thanks, Ciara for letting me tell my story. And thanks to all of you who commented. Just know that although you may never know about it, somewhere, someone will be affected by what you write. I was lucky. I found out early on, that what I was doing had a wonderful affect on someone's life. It was luck, plain and simple.