I’m pleased to be back at the Word Nerds as I promote the releases of my two newest novels: DEAD MAN’S REACH, the final installment in the Thieftaker Chronicles, which I write as D.B. Jackson, and HIS FATHER’S EYES, the second volume of The Case Files of Justis Fearsson, which I write under my own name, David B. Coe.
The Nerds asked me to write a bit about what libraries mean to me, a topic that had natural appeal. In fact, I am writing this post in the Nashville Public Library. Really. I drove my daughter up to Nashville today so that she could take a theater class, and this seemed like the natural place for me to spend my day.
I grew up in a wealthy suburb of New York, a town with the resources necessary to maintain a wonderful public library. In this, as in so many other ways, I was very fortunate. I cherished that little library, and was thrilled when I turned seven, the age at which I could get my own library card (good in the kid’s section of the library). The building itself struck me at the time as grand. Built of white stucco, with tall white colonnades flanking the main entrance, it always reminded me of the White House. Only later did I realize that it was smaller by an order of magnitude or two . . .
I discovered worlds there. As a kid, I was fascinated by nature and the Apollo moon missions, and so I took out every book I could find on birds and mammals, rockets and space. Thanks to the librarian I’ve forgotten her name, but I remember that she learned mine right away, and welcomed me every time I walked through the doors to the Children’s Room I was introduced to the charming stories of Sterling North, and found countless books about baseball (another of my passions).
My love of books was instilled in me by my parents, but it was nurtured at the public library. And my wife and I managed to give a similar opportunity to our daughters. In 2005, our family moved to Australia for a year. My wife was on Sabbatical and had research to do at the University of Wollongong. It was a marvelous year, in part because it forced us out of our routine. The girls were young and not yet plugged in to social media. Australian television was an alien landscape that held little interest for them. For the first week or two, they were a bit bored, even as they adjusted to life in a new school, with new teachers and friends.
One of the things we learned about Australia early on was that most stores, including the Aussie supermarkets, close before dinner, except on Thursdays, when they stay open until 9:00. So we instituted a new tradition. Every Thursday, late in the day, we went to the Wollongong public library and all took out books to read for the coming week. Then we went out to dinner (usually Thai) and did our weekly grocery shopping.
Once back at our temporary home, the girls would begin to power their way through all the books they had taken out. Nancy and I each took out a novel or two enough to sustain us for the week. But the girls couldn’t contain themselves. They each checked out half a dozen books or more. The older one tore through the Lemony Snicket series and then discovered Australian author Morris Gleitzman. The younger one fell in love with the Rainbow Fairies books.
Our Thursday night trips to the library in Australia enriched what was already destined to be a rich experience. It became part of our family lore, and though we no longer go to the library together, our girls, one now in college, the other in high school, remain avid readers. I have no doubt that one day, with reminiscences about our time Down Under, they will introduce their kids to the magic of libraries, as we did for them, as my parents did for me so many years ago, in a little town, and a library that looked just like the White House.
David B. Coe/D.B. Jackson is the awardwinning author of eighteen fantasy novels. Under the name D.B. Jackson, he writes the Thieftaker Chronicles, a historical urban fantasy from Tor Books that includes Thieftaker, Thieves’ Quarry, A Plunder of Souls, and, the newest volume, Dead Man’s Reach, was released on July 21. Under his own name, he writes The Case Files of Justis Fearsson, a contemporary urban fantasy from Baen Books. The first volume, Spell Blind, debuted in January 2015. The newest book in the series, His Father’s Eyes, came out on August 4. He lives on the Cumberland Plateau with his wife and two daughters. They’re all smarter and prettier than he is, but they keep him around because he makes a mean vegetarian fajita. When he’s not writing he likes to hike, play guitar, and stalk the perfect image with his camera.