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  • Writer's pictureJanna Zonder

Before I became a writer . . .

Before I became a writer, I was a reader. I can't remember a time when I didn't read. My habit started early with the products in my grandmother's pantry - Tide detergent, 20 Mule Team Borax (that was a good one), and Luzianne Coffee. It took a while before I learned that's not how you spell, or pronounce, Louisiana. (Unless you're southern.)

In typical addict fashion, I was hooked from the first word. I graduated to street signs, comic books, non-fiction, and best-of-all, novels.

Ah, novels! What a gift they have been in my life, opening my world to places and people I would never otherwise know. Novels became my constant companions, and I still usually have one with me at meals, in waiting rooms, and at bedtime.

I read for different reasons now, but my selections are as diverse as they were when I was five. Sometimes, I choose a thriller because I want to get whiplash from a plot that will take me somewhere dangerous and educate me on a world I would never want to experience firsthand. Many characters in the best thrillers and mysteries offend me, or even horrify me, but they keep me guessing until I'm slammed full-tilt into the conclusion. Kind of like a roller-coaster for my mind. My first novel, Magenta Rave, takes readers on one of those roller coaster rides.

Other times, I choose to cozy up to a sweet yarn that feels safe, touches my heart, and makes me believe in the goodness of people. Those books often center around characters rising to the challenges of hard living with their compassion and dignity intact.

Sometimes, I want to dig down deep and have my mind blown by the sheer beauty of the prose and the depth of the author's insights. (See my review of Lee Zacharias Across the Great Lake.)

When I think of my favorite books, the authors Pat Conroy and Amy Tan come immediately to mind. Their novels have given me a bit of everything - riveting plots, rich characters, a strong sense of place, and, most of all, a deeper understanding of my own life that I have uncovered through the powerful, profound connection that exists between an author and a reader.

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