The Series That Changed My Life (Miss Carriger Recommends)

This American Life recently had a podcast on The Book That Changed Your Life. I realized that I had one of those, or more properly, a series that changed my life. In my case it was The Song of the Lioness Quartet by Tamora Pierce, one of the only series for which I have hard back first editions (which I keep at my Mum’s house for safety) and pocket paperbacks (initially to travel around to various academic institutions with me, now just to read). As a general rule I’m not a collector, I don’t care about the edition, and I loathe hard back. I was eight when I read the first book and it changed my mentality ~ the very I idea that a young girl could be the central character and really kick some proverbial arse! But that wasn’t how it changed my life ~ that came six years later.

Picture a small town girl, 13 people in her eighth grade class, tried everything she could not to go to gangland public high. Luckily, she managed to slide into a private prep school (and while there was a scholarship, we aren’t going to talk about what the parentals had to do to afford it, not to mention make the drive every morning). So, there I was in Freshman English class and this adorable sweet-tempered other-worldly young lady and I start gravitating towards each other. However, it wasn’t until after class, at lunch, that Tamora Pierce came up in conversation.

Turns out we were both rabid fans. No, really. And then, as you do with books, we started sharing the other ones we really loved, and she told me ones I should read, and I told her ones she should read. And by the end of that lunch, we were rabid friends. And that, as they say, was that.

Going on almost 20 years now, Phran and I have played writer’s hopscotch with each other. She got her first short story published in MZB’s Sword & Sorceress when we were 15. Took me 3 years to catch up. She dragged me to my first science fiction convention (BayCon ’95). Significant others have come and gone, but it’s Phran and I who go to book parties together, who make the trek to WorldCon, and who, more often than not, are each others plus one. She’s my favorite traveling companion (which is saying a lot for an archaeologist, we travel all the time). She’s gone on to work for Locus and I’ve gone on to write books. Throughout it all, Phran has read my scribbles. In fact, she’s reading the third book in the Parasol Protectorate series right now.

Not only that, it was through Phran I met the Iz, who is my most vicious red penner (believe me, I need it) and with whom I have gotten up to more trouble than I care to admit. And through Iz I met Sarah and through Sarah I met Willow and Rachel and . . .

It’s these friends who turned up at my reading last Sunday, and these friends who’ll be cooking, and cleaning, and decorating for my book launch party. Some people are defined by their family, or their partnership, or their children ~ I’m defined by my friends. I moved back to California because of them. When something wonderful happens, I call them. When I sold Soulless: Phran screamed, Iz said “well, of course,” and Willow cried.

And all of it started because of Tamora Pierce’s Song of the Lioness Quartet.

So that’s how a book changed my life.

Please don’t forget my big fat contest this week for lots of cool stuff. (You know that Rachel I mentioned above? She made the pins). Hope you participate.

Gail’s Daily Dose
Your Infusion of Cute:

Your Tisane of Smart:
Maya calendar app.
Your Writerly Tinctures:
What Do Publishers Bring to the Table when you are a debut author.

CAKE in Space: Back from agent, but now I don’t have time for it.
So very perfectly on point, Reflection’s Edge totally gets it! Soulless is fluff of the highest order, with the sole mission of being fun. Reading this book will impress no one, but all of your friends will ask to borrow it. It’s a welcome addition to the lighter side of dark fantasy, and one which feels as though it’s been there all along.
SPOILER ALERT! Amazon has posted Changeless cover along with blurb. Blurb gives bits of Soulless away so don’t read if you haven’t read the first book!
Blameless: Now with third beta.

Quote of the Day:
“The worth of a book is to be measured by what you can carry away from it.”
~ James Bryce

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Posted by Gail Carriger


No Responses

  1. RKCharron said:

    Hi Gail 🙂
    Thank you very much for sharing today.
    Best friends are the best. 🙂
    I am very happy you have great ones.
    A book that changed my life was Alice in Wonderland which I read when I was four & fell in love with Fantasy.
    All the best,

  2. Donna Gambale said:

    I love best friend stories, and yours is so much fun!

    I feel like I missed out on Tamora Pierce because I basically skipped MG novels and jumped right over to YA when I was wayyy too young to be reading it. (I haven't left YA since!)

    I'd have to say that The Giver — one of the few MG books I read, thanks to school — really changed me as a person because it was one of the first times that I viewed the world around me differently because of a book. I read my original copy at least once a year, and I'm still in awe!

  3. Clare S said:

    I adored this series, too! At last, a girl who wasn't 'girlie', who was strong but not emotionless (they aren't the same thing – it feels like a lot of people/writers/film-makers don't get that!) and who was the star of the show.

    I'm not sure if I could choose my top changed-my-life book (I'd probably have to have a top 20 chart of them or something), but this series featured strongly in my 11-year-old internal world and was probably one of the first times my need for a strong female protagonist was satisfied.

    I re-read some of the Alanna books a few years ago and still enjoyed them immensely. I can vaguely recall reading 'Shiva' and 'The Crone 'by J H Brennan before the Alanna books and loving them for their female characters too – I wonder if I'd still like them now…

  4. Lana said:

    The Song of the Lioness definitely changed my life in a big way (so much that I posted about it here for its 25th anniversary).

    I loved how scrappy Alanna was, her relationships with her friends, and (when I was older) I loved that she didn't just meet one boy who turned out to be The One right off the bat, but actually went through multiple relationships and the resultant heart-ache.

    And as a result of being a rabid fangirl, I've met some great friends (most notably standing in line to have Terrier signed one year at a book festival).

    I found this link over at the Pursuing the Lioness post at Tempting Persephone – and I thought I'd stop by and say hi (and that I really enjoyed Soulless and am looking forward to Book 2!).

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