My earliest memory is telling my father about my dream house. I was three years old. By the age of six, I told stories to my classmates during the wonderful "Show and Tell" of 1st Grade (do children still have this opportunity?) during which I described the fox I encountered in Golden Gate Park. My family assumed, with fond mockery, that I had made the story up. High praise for a would-be novelist! However, I was proved truthful by consequent media reports of the red-coated predators in popular areas of this iconic location.
My credentials as a potential author of fiction were validated in sixth grade when I presented my teacher, Mrs. O'Brien, with a book report on (Valentin Louis Georges Eugène Marcel Proust) Marcel Proust's novels, Remembrance of Things Past, which I had never read! Only many years later did I realize how generous my French-born sixth grade teacher had been by not sending me to see the Principal, Miss Ryan.
The book was one of many on the bookshelves of my parents' living room. Both my mother and father were avid readers, a passion that I inherited from the point of a creator. I was not as much interested in reading as in creating material to be read. Although I have gone on tangents into visual arts, indulge my love of singing, and earn a living with my understanding of technology, finance and administration, words are my beloved tools of the trade.
I continued my apprenticeship in high school where I won an "A" for a book report on The Red Pony by John Steinbeck. My teacher, Mr. Lombardi, taught me the value of simplicity and the importance of placing emphasis on the significant. The opening sentence of my book report was Gitano was dead. I subsequently named the male protagonist in my novel, Salsa Dancing with Pterodactyls, David Miguel Gitano.
One of my professors told another that I wrote "the best sentences" of any of my fellow graduate students. I have worn that trade-peculiar badge of honor with both pride and humility ever since the receiving professor shared the statement with me. Also the responsibility. One of my professors further encouraged my ambition by praising my understanding of the male psyche. And another schooled his pupils with what he called the "taxi driver test" of literature: what we recognize now as "the hook".
My love of words and using them to tell stories is a forever love affair, although often unrequited! I do my best by them, as is required of any writer. We are what we write after all.
George Rupert Smith stretched his legs across the gap, toward the bench his sergeant, Morton Pierce, occupied to the full extent of his physical being. Though the train could not progress any slower up the coast, Rupe pressed his back against the upholstered seat as though he could hold the engine back by force of will.
Happy St. Stephen's Day/Boxing Day to all!-- First paragraph from Pavane for Miss Marcher, Leigh Verrill-Rhys, August 2017