My path to fantasy through the library

— feeling big smile

Everyone is introducing themselves, and these posts are so diverse and riveting. I'll do the same. This is my bookish introduction.

Hello, everyone. I'm Olga Godim. I'm an avid reader, a writer, and a freelance journalist from Vancouver, Canada. As a journalist, I work for a small local newspaper Jewish Independent, covering cultural and artistic events in our Jewish community. My favorite article type is an artist's profile. I love interviewing artists. They're amazingly interesting people.

As a reader, I read fantasy, romance, cozy mystery, chic lit, mainstream, and a sprinkling of other genres. I dislike horror and thrillers and I don't read erotica. When I was in high school, I set myself a goal to read as many international classics as I could. I read Homer and Cervantes, Balzac and Moliere, Voltaire and O. Henry, and many others before I started university.   

As a writer, I write mostly traditional fantasy, although my most recent work in progress is Regency romance.

My fascination with fantasy began here, in Canada. Originally, I'm from Moscow, Russia. I went to school and university there. I always liked stories with magic, but in the Soviet Russia (USSR was the name then), fantasy as a genre didn't exist. It wasn't political, it didn't promote communist ideology, so it wasn't published. I didn't know the genre thrived in the West, didn't know about Tolkien and the rest of the bunch. Instead, I read what I could find in translation with a bit of magical adventure: myths, legends, King Arthur stories. I never liked Soviet literature.

When I came to Canada, I wanted to read something new and exciting, something that had never been translated into Russian, but I didn't know what it was. I started with another genre that was never translated into Russian - westerns (can you believe it? I don't read westerns anymore. I don't think anyone on BL does.)

Once, I was passing a second hand bookstore and saw a book in the window display with a cover that drew my eye: a white horse and a young man in some kind of medieval clothing holding a sword. I thought: I want to read it, but for some reason I didn't go into the store. I still didn't know about the the fantasy genre. I went away, but the book cover stayed in my memory for weeks, nagging me. 

So I went to the library. I didn't remember the title or even the author's last name, only her first name, unusual for the English language - Mercedes. I said so to the librarian and described the cover. I told her that it must be an adventure story set sometime in the middle ages.

She was much better informed than me, of course. She guessed right away it was fantasy and found it for me pretty quickly - Mercedes Lackey's Magic Pawn.

I read it - my first fantasy book - and I fell in love with the genre. Suddenly I found what I was unconsciously searching for for years. Afterwards, I started reading fantasy, devouring it like an addict, book after book, first everything by Lackey and then by other fantasy authors.

At about the same time, I discovered another of my favorite genres - romance. It also didn't exist in the USSR, for the same reason fantasy and western didn't - not political enough, no propaganda value.

Mercedes Lackey is not among my favorite fantasy writers anymore, hasn't been for a long time, but I'll be forever grateful to her for introducing me to the genre. It literally changed my life. Years later, I began writing fantasy, but that's another story.