From Camille Minichino
The Book I Want to Write is a book like one of the two that made me (eventually) a reader. I wrote this blog in answer to the question posed by Sisters in Crime last month. Which authors have inspired you?
My answer: Louisa May Alcott (1832-1888) and Eve Curie (1904-2007), two authors who may seem to have nothing in common, but have inspired me in ways none have since.
Little Women was the first and only book I read that wasn't a schoolbook, until I was in college. Reading was discouraged in my home environment unless it was to ensure a good grade. I'm not even sure how I happened upon a copy.
Whatever critics or scholars have said is the theme/message/quest of Little Women, Alcott taught me that words and stories could move the reader to emotion as surely as a real-life drama.
I'm sure I wasn't the first to dissolve into tears at Beth's death, or to root for Jo as if she were my real-life friend. It's strange to me now that I didn't learn from that experience, that other books might be similarly rewarding.
Several years later, I was in college and came across a biography of Marie Curie in the science library. It was written by her younger daughter, Eve (the daughter who was not a radiation scientist, and lived to 103!). Eve's book became the second book I read that wasn't a schoolbook.
Random page from MC, pub. 1937, when Eve was 33.
In Madame Curie, Eve Curie gave us her mother's story, in words, without equations, and I found it fascinating. So what if she included only the most flattering, romantic picture of her parents and their life in the laboratory. There would be many other biographies to give a more complete picture.
This second "unrequired reading" set me on the path, finally, to seek other stories.
Louisa May Alcott and Eve Curie taught me that books could provide not only information, but interesting stories, and valuable emotional connections.
Only a few decades later, I decided to try writing my own. After more than twenty, I'm still trying to write one like Little Women or Madame Curie.