Saturday, May 5, 2012
My parents, myself
by April Henry
I wouldn’t be a writer if it weren’t for my parents.
My dad taught me to read when I was little - by the age of three, according to family lore. I still remember being shown white flashcards with a letter on one side and an image on the other - like an A and the word “apple.” Those flashcards called to me. They seemed magical.
My parents were big readers. Books were scattered throughout the house, and they were fine with us reading whatever we picked up. It could be Tess of the D’ubervilles (they had a set of paperback classics) or pop fiction. I still remember the shock I felt reading The Godfather in sixth grade - people could have sex standing up!
When I started to write seriously, my very conservative father read sexually detailed stories starring thinly disguised versions of myself without too much flinching. And I’ve always counted on my mom to give me honest feedback (although I will admit I like the praise much more than the alternative).
When I first got published, my dad gave me several writing books he had had since the 1950s, including Characters Make Your Story. That’s when I learned that he had once dreamed of being a novelist himself, before three kids and 60-hour weeks as a TV newsman got in his way.
When I grow up, I want to be like my parents.