Throughout my lifetime, many individuals have influenced my love of the language and of books, not least of whom were my parents.
My father, Donald, was a voracious sci-fi and adventure fiction reader. On weekend afternoons, he could often be found relaxing on the couch with his nose in a dog-eared paperback, perhaps by Ray Bradbury, Edgar Rice Burroughs, Robert A. Heinlein, Louis L’amour, or H. G. Wells, and boasting some sort of heroic cover art–likely by Frank Frazetta, or one of his counterparts–depicting John Carter of Mars, one of the Sacketts, or Tarzan, smashing his way through hordes of enemies, blade, blaster, or six shooter in one hand and damsel in distress in the other.
My mother, Mary, cherished classic literary fiction, instilling in me a great love for such books at an early age–books she considered as doorways to a wide variety of experiences, adventures, and ideas–and which I accessed through the offerings of Lewis Carroll, James Clavell, Samuel Clemens, James Fenimore Cooper, Charles Dickens, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Rudyard Kipling, Jack London, Robert Louis Stevenson, J. R. R. Tolkien, and Jules Verne to name a few. She introduced me to the wonder of libraries, bookmobiles, and natural history museums, and taught me to respect, nurture, and appreciate the magic of the written word, as well as the beauty and grandeur of our natural world. To my parents, who, by example, imparted their varied literary passions to an impressionable young mind growing up in the American Midwest, I am truly grateful.