Unlike a lot of writers, I wasn’t a big reader when I was younger. I came to it late, when I was in eighth grade. Until then, none of the books (mostly ones about boys with pet dogs) that people had given me worked. And then I discovered fantasy. From then on, you never found me without a book. Often two or three.
When I was 14, I discovered the fantasy genre through Barbara Hambly’s DRAGONSBANE. After her, I read McCaffrey and Rawn. They are really the ones who inspired me to start writing. When Robert Jordan’s books came along, I was done for.
As for writing, before discovering Fantasy books, I was a daydreamer. I was always daydreaming–I was never in the room where I was supposed to be listening or studying. I was off somewhere else. Oddly, though, I didn’t make the connection between this and writing until I was given that first fantasy novel.
When I read that book (and moved on to McCaffrey, as it was next in the card catalogue) I discovered something that blew my mind. Here were people who were taking what I did, sitting around and imagining stories, and they were making a living out of it.
I hit the ground running, so to speak. Started my first novel the next fall, began gobbling up fantasy books wherever I could find them, began writing notes and ideas in my notebooks instead of (as you guessed) the notes I was supposed to be taking.
Even after all this, though, I was persuaded that people couldn’t make a living as an author. So I went to school my freshman year as a bio-chemist, on track for becoming a doctor. That lasted about one year of frustrating homework and classes spent daydreaming before I made the decision to try becoming a writer.