Dear Shirley Jackson and Anne Rice,
It is hard for me to write this letter without addressing you both. You both had a hand in pulling me out of my darkness and into your own.
I thought that to write stories about magic and monsters and darkness then I would have to trick people into reading them by taking the femininity out of my name, much like J.K. Rowling did with hers. Then, to make a long story short, I stopped writing and reading for a long time. I allowed my love for those things to slip through my fingers and shatter on the floor and I left those pieces there.
Somehow, years later, I found my way back to my roots with your help--two strong female writers, pioneers of your craft, and masters of gothic fiction.
Anne, I remember where I was the first time I read Interview With the Vampire. I remember falling in love with Lestat de Lioncourt and Armand. I never knew anything could touch me as deeply as your stories have.
All those countless nights staying up late to “finish homework,” but instead diving into your books because there was no other place I wanted to be. Your writing pulled me out of a darkness I thought I couldn’t control and into one that I could.
Your writing made me nostalgic for things I had never seen. I began writing again because of you.
Shirley, I remember where I was the first time I read We Have Always Lived in the Castle. I never thought I would meet an unreliable narrator as wonderfully horrible as Lestat de Lioncourt until I met your Merricat Blackwood.
And so I fell in love with the idea of the unreliable narrator. I fell in love with the idea of the protagonist not always being the hero, and I fell in love with writing again.
I may still be gathering those shattered pieces, but I’m slowly finding my own words again through yours. Shirley, your prose is like sugar laced with arsenic. I was so inspired by you as a person that I wrote a screenplay based on your books.
I wish you were here to read it.
Thank you both for being the female role models I needed.
- Ashley Lyons