I was in the mall branch of the Ann Arbor District Library the other day and snapped this photo of Murder Boy in the wild. I previously saw a copy in the downtown branch when I was there for an event and I thought I’d talk about why it’s important to me to see my first novel in those two branches.
I grew up in libraries and they are responsible, in almost every way, for who I am today as a writer. I started in what passed for the young adult section (Hardy Boys, Nancy Drew, Bobbsey Twins, Boxcar Children, Tom Swift, Choose Your Own Adventure, and Laura Ingallas Wilder, and so many books on card tricks and ventriloquism and space and any number of hobbies I briefly pursued) and moved quickly to the adult section with Agatha Christie, Stephen King, Isaac Asimov, and so, so many Star Trek and Star Wars novelizations.
This is also where I made the pivot into crime fiction with Robert B. Parker, Sue Grafton, Robert Crais, and Michael Connelly. The books I read in the library growing up formed my base of reading and inspired my various attempts at early fiction writing. And the best part about my time in those libraries is that I never doubted I would be a writer. It was only a matter of time. But the two Ann Arbor library branches I mentioned correspond to a time when I was at my lowest financial and creatively.
I was so, so poor and frustrated with where my life was and stuck in an epic battle in my mind about what kind of writer I should be and wondered any number of times if I would ever write another novel again, let alone have one published. But I kept reading. I watched great movies and TV shows for free from the library and went to author events for free, all of which helped chip away at the doubt and get me back to where I needed to be. So to see these books on their shelves represents such a turnaround from where I thought I would be and I can’t say thanks enough. The Ann Arbor District Library was also the first library to buy my books. I donated copies to my own local library, and I’ll donate a copy of Riot Load to AADL so they don’t have to spend money on it, but that initial purchase will never be forgotten.
These days I’m lucky to be in a position to buy just about any noveI I want to read, but I still hang out at the library and do a lot of writing there. I take the kids there. I check out a ridiculous amount of non-fiction from there. And I hope it’s around for a very long time.