By Christian Schoon
Like many authors, I started seeing books as friends, of a sort, from early childhood. The living room of our house was lined with bookshelves, my mother was an English teacher, my sister and brothers all loved to read (OK, maybe one brother would rather be out in the garage tuning up his Firebird). So, even in grade school, I almost never went to bed without a book to prop up on my knees. I got so used to that pattern that I’d still never consider ending the day without something to read in bed.
Among the earliest books were genre classics like Rusty’s Space Ship, The Shy Stegosaurus of Cricket Creek, Burrogh’s Barsoom series, other SF Golden Age classics, augmented by a never-ending stream of “true life” animal adventures from authors like Seton (Wild Animals I Have Known) and others who wrote about the nitty-gritty, many-times violent but always realistic lives of animals in their natural habitats, as opposed to the often (but not always) anthropomorphized Disney animated and live-action critter flicks.
I think my true addiction to books really took hold in junior high. By then I was a full-fledged genre-holic, consuming SF and fantasy by the stack. My favorite reading spot was a few miles outside of my small Minnesota home town. I’d pack a book and a lunch and ride my bike out there. It was an old, abandoned quarry. The rock was Sioux Quartzite. The main area was a huge amphitheater with pink rock walls in a horseshoe shape, the cliffs being about 200 feet high. The stone was so hard it eventually became too expensive to continue to cut it, and the place was abandoned. Which suited me fine. The sun would warm the glacier-polished rock up on top of the amphitheater and I’d read all afternoon with jackrabbits, killdeer and the wind through the prairie grass for company. I had the usual circle of friends through high school, but because of the way that I grew up, surrounded by books and encouraged to love them and the places they could take me, I was always more than happy to spend afternoons like this.
And, not surprisingly, when I moved away from LA and my scriptwriting contacts there, I turned to novel writing as a logical career move. Zenn Scarlett is, perhaps, my own debut, novice effort at creating a character and a world and a story that someone else might befriend, the way I’d befriended so many books growing up.