by Allana Luta
Though I was not born a novelist, writing has been a part of my life ever since my mom gave me my first diary for my seventh birthday. Jotting down scrambled thoughts, however, is different from actually writing a story. I’ve attempted to do so at different times in my life and here are some of the books that held my hand during those phases.
One of the earliest stories I can remember from my childhood is the Philippine legend of how the pineapple came to be. According to the folktale, a girl too lazy to search for kitchen utensils magically transformed into the fruit after her sick mom cursed her, “I hope you grow a thousand eyes!” The girl went missing and when her mom came to look for her, she found a strange fruit with a thousand black eyes and immediately assumed it was her daughter.
Reading the folktale again now makes me chuckle because it’s completely unbelievable. But this was the story that inspired me to create my own legend—specifically, of spaghetti.
I’m not going to share with you what my nine-year-old brain came up with but this was when I realized just how great it felt to write my own material (even if it was crap). Thus began my love-hate relationship with writing fiction.
When I started high school, I stumbled upon this book about vampires. A classmate wouldn’t shut up about it so I thought I might as well dive in. Despite being an able swimmer, I drowned in the whirlpool of Anne Rice’s vampire chronicles.
Aside from the Harry Potter series, these vampire books defined my high school years, and it was The Vampire Lestat that introduced me to this sexy, sexy world of fanged sexiness. Suddenly, all the characters in my stories were dark and brooding and contemplated a lot about eternal life (I never actually wrote about vampires because it felt blasphemous!). I copied Rice’s way of writing for my essays in class and imagined Rice nodding approvingly at my style, although I’m sure it was never as good as I thought it was. Still, her vampires influenced many a poem about lust and murder and other such carnal activities. (I’m not a psychopath, I swear.)
Now, as if it wasn’t enough that my head was already full of tragically good-looking bloodsuckers, I decided to explore stories about other terrifying creatures and found myself caught in a vicious war between zombies and unicorns.
Edited by Holly Black and Justine Larbalestier, this anthology included some of the most hilarious and creative zombie/unicorn scenarios I’ve read. Zombies vs. Unicorns made me appreciate short stories more and it almost convinced me to write about zombies for my final paper in one of my creative writing classes. I was on Team Unicorn when I started but then the bestiality in one of the short stories kind of creeped me out. However, it was Alaya Dawn Johnson’s gay zombies that tipped the scale. Gay. Zombies. You’d switch sides as well.
I am resigned to the fact that I am not suited to be a novelist. I’m just not. But sometimes, I come across a book that demands I use my imagination generously and I may even imagine so hard that I may need to express it in words on paper. As a non-novelist, that’s enough for me. ☁