Author's Note

#CHCCYAFest – A Letter to Tamora Pierce

CHCC YA Fest is coming up on the 12th May, and to celebrate, they wanted to spread some bookish joy. Bloggers on the CHCC YA Blogfest Tour are writing letters to those in the bookish community who have brought them joy, so I decided to write mine to one of the authors who had the most significant impact on me as a reader, as a writer, and as a person: Tamora Pierce!

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Dear Ms Pierce,

I don’t think it’s possible to overstate the impact you’ve had on me. From the very first time I picked up one of your books as an eight-year-old, to right this moment as a twenty-six-year-old, your heroines have been my friends, my companions, and my guides.

I remember being given Alanna: The First Adventure for Christmas – I can’t remember who gave it to me, but I remember opening the parcel and being instantly taken with the rich purple of the cover and the beautiful sword illustration. As a kid who was obsessed with King Arthur, the idea of reading about a lady knight was thrilling, and Alanna rode into my life and made herself at home. I devoured it. I begged for all your other books. I’ve bought every single one on its publication date since.

I was bullied at school. Pretty ruthlessly. But so was Kel, in the Protector of the Small books, and she never let it stop her from being the best she could be, or the kindest she could be. From Kel, I learned to keep my chin up, to be The Lump, to roll with the punches and then show the bullies up by simply being better than them. Alanna’s drive to take her own path made me sure that I could do that too, that I could be someone formidable even if there were obstacles in the way. In a hundred different ways, Alanna made me feel like I could do anything. Though these girls wield swords, their strength is in their minds and their hearts – and you showed me that mine is too.

(I dyed my hair red as soon as my parents would allow. I’ve kept it red most of the time since then. It feels like my natural state.)

I am one of those people who was breathlessly anticipating Tempests and Slaughter for over a decade – and I say this not to make you feel bad, but to make you realise how long-lasting an impact Numair had on me. When I was younger, I preferred the straight-forward becoming-a-knight journeys of Alanna and Kel to the more complex journey of learning that Daine went on in the Immortals books, but on one re-read, when I was about 14, I suddenly realised that Numair and Daine had got into my soul. When I got to that bit in Book 3, even though I’d read it several times before and knew it would be okay, I suddenly burst into tears and realised I’d fallen in love with them both. I still use the meditation technique that Numair teaches Daine to control my own anxiety – though I try not to turn off my own heartbeat!

(Oh, and I married a tall, lanky, floppy-haired, wise-cracking teacher. Just sayin’.)

Oh, and that’s just Tortall! Briar’s plant magic in the Circle of Magic books sparked a life-long love of herbalism in me. I often think of Sandry ‘pinching’ the loose pieces of thread off her clothing, when I’ve had a particularly messy afternoon of knitting. Daja’s determination thrilled me. And Tris – messy-haired, glasses-wearing, bookish Tris – just spoke to me. You showed children fascinated by learning, and growing in their own power, and being amazing. You showed me that there was hope for a lonely, nerdy kid like me to be forged into something powerful.

When Tempests and Slaughter came out a few months ago, I spent an afternoon completely unmoving except to turn the pages. I don’t know how you did it, but you managed to catapult me right back to being a wide-eyed eight-year-old again. I know at any time, I can pull one of your books off the shelf, and say hello to Alanna, or Kel, or Daine, or Aly, or Beka, or the Winding Circle kids, and find magic again – the magic of girls trusting themselves, of girls claiming and owning their powers.

I have tickets to WorldCon in Dublin this year – I bought them within minutes of realising you were going to be there. When I meet you in person in August, clutching that battered and faded copy of Alanna: The First Adventure, I’m probably going to cry. Scrap that. I’m definitely going to cry.

Thank you. Thank you so much. You made me who I am today.

Asha

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Thanks to CHCC YA Fest for the chance to get that out! I’m so looking forward to the event! You can buy tickets here, and I have a discount code for you! Use YAFEST10 to get 10% off your ticket, valid until 28th February for a one time use.

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