I’m one of those people who has always written, and before I could write, I told myself stories in my head. Even my childhood games foreshadowed the kinds of obsessions that would lead me to become a writer. I remember playing when I was little, dividing up my dolls and action figures with a friend, or with my brother, and within no time, one of my lot would be found hanging from the pipe beneath the sink. Oh no! Han Solo had taken his own life… or had he? My main character, Bobbi (known to the rest of the world as Malibu Barbie), wasn’t quite so sure. Soon Cobra Commander would be found dead with a knife in his back (or rather nestled between his arm and his torso), and Bobbi and I would be in a race against time to stop our killer before he/she could take more plastic lives. When I played with my brother, it would sometimes turn out that a blue-haired alien baby doll head was responsible for the murders (he writes science fiction), but I favored a more traditional denouement, assembling the remaining toys so that Bobbi could reveal the identity of the killer. I’m not gonna lie. It was usually Snoopy.
I remember the date when I traded dolls for pen and paper. It was October 30th, 1985. I was in fourth grade, and our homework assignment was to write a scary story to read aloud in front of the class on Halloween. I was already smitten with Poe, and I wanted to see if I could write something as gruesome as my current obsession, “The Black Cat.” There was a storm that night, and the lights went out. I sat at the kitchen table by candlelight, and I still remember the taste of the candy corn I snacked on while I wrote. Wind and rain lashed against the windows, and I was totally lost in my story. I got to stay up past my older brother that night because my mom didn’t want to interrupt me. It was one of the happiest, most peaceful times in my life, and I had created it completely on my own. I realized while I sat there writing, that there was no reason I couldn’t just keep on doing it for the rest of my life. So I did. When I’m writing, part of me is always back there with the candles flickering, and the rain scratching against the pane, the taste of candy corn and terror on my tongue, and I am blissfully happy. If I’m not, I know that I’m doing something wrong.
McCormick Templeman is descended from musicians and criminals. Her first novel, THE LITTLE WOODS (Schwartz and Wade/ Random House) debuts on July 10, 2012, and her second novel, THE GLASS CASKET (Delacorte), is forthcoming in 2014. She lives in California with some people and some stuff.
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