My first published work, The Christmas Caper, appeared in 1986 and was produced by Walcott Wonderbooks, my third grade teacher, Miss Zook's* classroom publishing company. The Christmas Caper was a picture book about a chunk of Halley's Comet crashing into my front yard one winter's night near Christmas. I know it passed us in February of 1986, but cut me some slack. Also, I know a chunk of Halley's Comet falling from the sky and landing in a front yard in a trailer park in Walcott, IA would have been noticed. Cut me some slack. I was 9. Anyway, snow falls after it crashes, covering it.
The next day, my sisters, and I make a snowman out of the snow resting atop this magical, mystical space rock. Naturally, the snowman comes to life and runs off. It eventually kidnaps one of my sisters because every good story has a villain. So my remaining sister, my cousins, and I fight it to save her. We create elaborate plans and eventually battle him, save my sister, and win the day. We all live happily ever after, except the snowman who we cut into pieces and melt in a fireplace because he was space evil. Space evil, as everyone knows, is far more serious than regular or "Earthan" evil.
It is a simple story from a kid with a vivid imagination and fascination with anything monstrous.
I can still remember two things clearly about crafting that weird little sci-fi/horror: 1) I scared myself drawing the snowman's angry face and 2) I was mesmerized by the sound of those typewriter keys and that DING! as I finished a line. I was entranced by the smell of the ink. I was in love with the feel of my fingers as they moved across the keys.... I guess that's 4 things. Sorry, I'm a writer not a mathematician.
I had enjoyed reading and writing before that, but the combination of everything that had to do with the typewriter and seeing the actual finished product in my hand might have been the trigger that made me realize I'm a writer.
Come back on 7/21 to see what happened next....
*Can you imagine what Miss Zook had to go through in order to put one of these things together for every student in her class? That's teaching folks.