It was more the lede line than the story. Melissa Kirsch’s “The books we read when we’re young help shape the adults we become in ways we don’t always grasp” caught my attention. My own current rereading of Dark Shadows books certainly reflects that. As my You Tube video on Dark Shadows considers, it was the books more than the television show that shaped my young mind. Consciously, I know that’s probably the main reason I’ve always wanted to live in Maine. It may seem strange to some to want to move where a vampire frequently visits, but there was more going on in those stories than I realized. It would be enough to make me tremble were I a young persons’ fiction writer. They have so much influence. Spending my younger years searching for a father took me some strange places.
My other young reading was, naturally, the Bible. I can’t remember how young I was when I began to try to read through the King James. Eventually I did get through, and then I started all over again. Clearly my entire life has been impacted by that early fear of Hell that drove me to the Scriptures. Perhaps that combination of Bible and Dark Shadows novels led to Holy Horror and its aftermath. In other words, my youthful reading led to what has become a vocation, of sorts. That elusive university, or college job in Maine never came to fruition. I tried many times to get a toehold there, Bible in hand. I’ve ended up back in Pennsylvania, where I started. And I’m still reading.
I’ve read a good number of good books, but it has been some time since one set my life off on a different trajectory. Some books have lead me to write books, and books I read often suggest even more books. Whether I die today or thirty years from now, books will have defined my life. I grew up reading them and wanting to write them, with no real idea how to do the latter. One of those childhood books convinced me that a career outside the church was one not worth having. Indeed, were I clergy now my enjoyment of horror would certainly garner more attention than it does in my current role as “some guy.” I am, however, that person who grew from a worried-looking kid who’d not yet figured out that my reading choices would lead to a life measured by books.