Many years ago as a young teenager, I spent a January and February in an old chair in my room sucking on leftover Christmas candy canes and reading The Lord of the Rings trilogy by Tolkien. My rabbit Freddy reclined on my lap, and if while engrossed in a particularly exciting part, I neglected to stroke his soft black fur, he turned his head and sank his sharp little teeth into the flesh of my hand. Peppermint sticks, black rabbits, and little gold rings with deceptive power are now forever linked in my brain.
That winter still comes back to mind each year, begging for me to scour the tree for any forgotten candy ornaments and renew my relationship with books. As a mother of four kids, I find it hard to keep that relationship going. I can either write sometimes or read novels sometimes, but not both. I do still lean against the walls in my home now and then, perusing a chunk of the newspaper before I give it, and all its sundry information, up to recycling. But its not the same as curling myself around a book, letting my house go to pot, and hearing my children whine, "Mama, are you done with that chapter yet? You promised to come outside."
"I'm almost done!" I'd call back to their sighs.
This year I haven't even begun. And what I really need right now to conjure up that old excitement in the story is Book 4 of Kelven's Riddle, but I can't have it. Or so I've been told.
I have great memories of nursing my younger two children and putting various responsibilities on hold while eagerly ingesting Kelven's Riddle in it various forms. As the daughter of the man who wrote them, I was trusted with the rougher drafts of the story. When Dad gave me a section of the first one, I was pregnant with my youngest girl and stayed up way too late, already exhausted, and read it. At that time he hadn't even given me the ending. I read it in its entirety later on. When Book 2, The Walking Flame, came out, I left the house to its own destructive devices and got up from my chair only to feed the children, grab a snack for myself or use the restroom. I would end up reading the last incredible chapter of that book over and over again as I wished and waited for the third book. Then at last! Book 3, The Sword of Heaven, was in my hands, and again my house was buried in the mess with no hope from me as I read and nursed my young son and tried to balance my baby and dad's manuscript on my lap. That time I was actually allowed to read the final chapters before the book was released on Amazon.
Throughout all these literary entrapments, my husband was patient and forbearing with my neglect of our home, but I suspect that was only because the books had been written by Dad. And after I had Book 3's manuscript in my hand and confided in him with a laugh that Dad had actually named a character after him, Matthew (who does not read for pleasure, only business) began the series, and miracles of miracles! Read the whole thing by nightlight in the evenings while waiting for our youngest girl to drift to sleep.
Now Dad tells me he'll give me Book 4 soon, but won't say exactly when. Still he teases me with the details of the story - with war scenes and devastation and forecasts of how the whole series will go down but no solid information. He tells me frankly that Book 4's ending will be more astounding than Book 2's, and I'm trying to imagine how. I'm puzzling over which of my favorite characters he might be inclined to kill off, and if it's Thaniel he dooms (Thaniel is a brave, proud and reserved being, the main character Aram's closest friend and a fellow warrior), I just might consider not speaking to Dad for a while. But I don't think he'd do that to me or any of his readers. I don't think he would.
But I don't know, do I? Because I don't have Book 4. Do I think that by writing this post, my dad will hurry to finish the manuscript and send it off to his youngest child with love? No, not really, but I wish he would. I still have one leftover candy cane, and no new book to enjoy with it.