Edgewyck Academy and Beyond:
Learning the Dark Arts.
And I get my first novel published!
The Early Years
Much of what I’m about to tell you is not true. It is, however, exactly as I remember it.
I was born during a howling thunderstorm on the first of April, shortly after midnight. According to the doctor, as I took my first breath the heavens shuddered with a thunderclap unlike any he had ever heard before… or since. Needless to say, after a birth like that, people expected great things. But I wasn’t quite ready for the pressure, so I spent the next few years sucking my thumb and spitting up on people.
Given my birthdate, my mother called me her April Fools’ baby, and every birthday she’d sit me down and solemnly tell me that I was adopted. The minute she had me going, she’d yell, “April Fools!” and we’d both laugh and laugh, and then she’d gently remind me that she had no idea who my father was. You’d expect this to bother me, but I kind of liked not knowing who he was. In my imagination he was something cool, like an astronaut, or a jungle explorer, or at the very least an insurance actuary assessing the risks of being an astronaut or jungle explorer. I suppose that making up stories about my father’s identity was how I found my way to telling stories. I’d gotten a taste for it, and I liked it!
My first novel (still unpublished), was written at the age of six and three-quarters, and was the aptly titled Booger Man, the Man Made of Boogers. It was released to my immediate circle of literary peers to very harsh critical reaction. Undaunted by the negative press, I set about writing something a little less “gross” (to quote Suzy Fitzsimmons). The result was: Why is the Sky Red and Other Questions Martian Kids Ask their Parents? Sales of “Why” were most likely hurt by my inability to determine where to put the question mark in the title.
With a mediocre reaction to “Why” I set a new course, dipping my toe into the waters of non-fiction literature, starting with a slim tome entitled: Where Did My Finger Go? (It’s up my nose!) , which enumerated all the places I had, to that point, stuck my finger. “Finger” was quickly followed by a junior self-help volume titled: How to Trick Grown-ups into Giving You Things (Like Extra Helpings of Dessert) , which proved to be extraordinarily popular among my classmates.
But, ultimately, I left the world of non-fiction. I just felt too constrained by having to service the facts. I wanted to stretch my imagination, so I returned to my storytelling roots, penning the imaginative thriller: The Moon is Watching You Sleep! I Think It’s Planning on Doing Something Horrible to You! When my school chums dragged themselves into class from a fearful and sleepless night, I knew I had arrived. I was, at long last, a manipulator of human emotion. I felt drunk with power. (Though at that age I had never been drunk, so I guess it’s more appropriate to say I felt “sugar-rushed” with power.)
During this period of time, my mother was trodding the boards on the Great White Way, so the New York City Public Library became my unofficial and unpaid babysitter. While my mother would work, I would curl up in the stacks and read the classics: Edgar Allen Poe, Arthur Conan Doyle, and Carolyn Keene. (What can I say? Nancy Drew was hot.) My education had begun.
And then, just like that, I hit puberty and suddenly lost all interest in reading.
The next seven years was a mélange of utterly pedestrian experiences that would be completely unremarkable, if I hadn’t later suffused them with plot lines from Archie comics. Consequently, I have some wonderful stories about the malt shop and riding around in an old jalopy.
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