Is it weird to have a book as a formative experience? And not a deep complex literary classic, but a piece of genre fiction? Talking to other writers I find out it’s not unusual at all. And when I’m giving talks and mention being blown away by my first Agatha Christie, I see heads nodding all around the room.
So, my story is ordinary: a quiet life growing up in Hobart. I’m the first to admit it was a privileged upbringing – not much stuff, almost no shopping, but a first class liberal intellectual and moral education at Friends’, safe and well fed, with lots of outdoor and craft activities.
But mostly what I did was read. Again, not unusual. Probably like you, I read everything I could get my hands on. Highbrow, lowbrow, Herman Hesse, Women’s Day, Tolkein, Austen, Sartre, Phantom comics. When it comes to distinguishing between literary and popular fiction … it’s never been all that clear to me. In the long days and nights in Hobart in the sixties and seventies, I was always looking for an absorbing story (not sure if Sartre provided that), and characters I cared about. Still am.