Over on her blog Esse Diem, my friend Elizabeth Gaucher has a fun meme where you take a picture of yourself with a favorite book. (Thank goodness the directions were “a” favorite book, or I would have been paralyzed with indecision.) I chose Riddle-Master: the Complete Trilogy by Patricia McKillip.
McKillip uses beautiful, lyrical language, and though I can’t say for certain that I have read more words penned by McKillip than by any other author (there’s all that Shakespeare and Louis L’Amour to take into account), it would be a close thing. When I reread her books (because the first time I’m just enjoying the experience), I can see where some of my own style may have come from. Certain ways of phrasing and grouping descriptions together tend to appeal to me, as well as the use of adverbs. McKillip uses adverbs beautifully and unabashedly, even in dialogue tags. (My love of adverbs and the industry’s bashing of them can wait for another post.)
I really didn’t need the copy of the book you see in my picture. I already had the trilogy in three separate, much-loved, 1970s cover paperbacks. But the two page “new introduction by the author” was worth the price. In it McKillip waxes nostalgic about the impact Tolkien had on her young life (Hey, mine, too!) and on this trilogy in particular. She is kind in remembering her younger writerly self and says, “She taught me magic, and the love of storytelling, which are two things that do not die unless you let them.” That is what Patricia McKillip, and particularly The Riddle-Master Trilogy, taught me, too.