I first knew I loved stories before I could read, probably before I even knew what a “story” was. My mother read me stories when I was a very small child, and I loved them. I especially loved fairy tales, all the stories of fantastical creatures and magical worlds. In second grade, when we were learning to read, something just clicked, and the letters on the page became words. After that, I started gobbling books down. My grandmother gave me the first three Harry Potter books when I was young (I was probably in second or third grade), but my mother didn’t want me to read them because she thought they weren’t appropriate for my age. I, of course, disagreed, so I stole them back from her, and read them under the covers at night. And my journey began. I would continue devouring books, pretty much anything I could get my hands on. I began watching movies as well, another excellent form of storytelling.
Until the end of sixth grade, I had had no interest in writing. I loved reading, but didn’t have any plans to become a writer (or editor), despite my parents and teachers suggesting that I should. It wasn’t until I discovered Brandon Sanderson that my writing spark came to life. I read Mistborn: The Final Empire, and I was inspired. It’s an amazing fantasy book that I love a lot. It has an incredibly well-built world, with several inter-connected hard magic systems. It’s a dystopian world, where the immortal Lord Ruler controls everything, and the sky is filled with ash. At night, the mists come out, home of the Mistborn, people granted the extraordinary ability to “burn” metals they ingest, and wield the great powers they bestow (for example, Pewter makes you strong and tough, while Tin enhances your sense). There are good, well-written characters that you can empathize with, my favorite being Lord Elend Venture, a young man who prefers to read forbidden texts rather than play the delicate game of court politics and socializing. I had read books with interesting worlds and relatable characters before, but none quite to the level of Brandon Sanderson, which is why I will leave the plot, full of mysteries and intricacies that reveal themselves over the course of the book, a secret.
After I discovered Sanderson, and started writing, I found many interesting fantasy and sci-fi books, though I read pretty much anything that was speculative fiction. It was around that time that I discovered video games could have really interesting stories, with immersive worlds, and realized that stories come in many forms, not just books. My tastes became more refined, and when I started studying creative writing, I grew to appreciate just how amazing the stories I loved were. These days I still love those fantastical, wonderful worlds of myth and magic that I grew up on, perhaps now more than ever. I love those stories that have good, detailed characters, a well thought-out world, and a plot that keeps me hooked from start to finish. But the thing I love most is when I find a story that I can experience over and over, and will keep coming back for more, because it’s something that goes beyond just entertainment – it delivers a thought-provoking tale with meaning and purpose.
Julian Zimianitis, Prose Editor