I love to read. I have always loved to read. I remember growing up and waiting every month for the release of the new Sweet Valley High book and tearing into it, only to finish it in a day and have to wait an agonizing 29 or so more days for the next installment. I still have all of the books in the series in bookcases in my den. It was when I fell in love with romance. It was when I began to connect to a family that became my friends. The characters grew and changed as I grew and changed. I fell in love when the characters fell in love and I cried when their hearts were broken.
I grew up and we grew apart, but my love and appreciation for what the Wakefield family gave to me at a time in my life when I needed that escape was never lost on me. I went to college and entered the workforce and always kept in my mind that connection I felt with books. The escape I so needed.
I missed that life. I missed that escape and the thrill of living vicariously through a family that was close to my own, yet worlds apart. I was far from the blonde and tanned beauties that starred in the series and I had very little experience in my small Michigan town that mimicked the beautiful Southern California town of Sweet Valley.
What I did have, was an imagination and an idea. As I went through the ups and downs of life, the imagination and idea evolved and when I was at the lowest point in my life, when I lost someone incredibly dear to me, I made a decision.
I began to bring my family by choice to life.
At first it was a form of therapy. I wrote to give myself an outlet. I wrote to say the things I couldn’t. I wrote to remind myself of what I wanted in life. I wrote because it hurt not to write.
I have been through a lot since I began this series. I have received terrible reviews that almost made me stop writing. I have received beautiful reviews that I keep close to my heart. I have grown to know these characters as if they were my family and I can’t imagine my life without them. I laugh with them and I cry with them. I feel terrible when they suffer and I’m so proud of them when they succeed.
I think back to the Sweet Valley High series and the more than 200 books I have collected. I think about the joy they gave me and I wonder what my life might have looked like without them. I’m not sure it would have been so great. I dealt with a lot of anxiety growing up and having a place to feel familiar, to feel safe and to escape to was everything to me. It helped me figure things out. It was a constant in my life and it was a huge influence in my formative years.
Over the last 20 or so years, I haven’t really looked at the books that made up so much of my childhood. I sometimes pull one off the shelf and I see the folded page and I know there was a time in my life that one would be hard pressed to pry that book out of my hands. I also know that I can go back to any one of the books and be transported to a time in my teen years when life was so much easier, yet I felt the weight of the world on my shoulders.
If I had only known then…
But, such is life.
Come by tonight for an update to where I’m taking this series in the next arc. I want to share my plans and my reasoning and I hope it sheds some light on the method to my madness 🙂
Below is a small part of my collection 🙂