A big welcome to Mia Marshall who is here counting down the Top 10 Top Ten Things That Helped Her Become a Giant Geek and celebrating the release of Turning Tides, Elements #3 (published on May 6, 2014 by Match Books).
Mia Marshall’s Top 10 Top Ten Things That Helped Me Become a Giant Geek
I was seven the first time someone called me a geek. I was shy, got good grades, and had the kind of coke-bottle glasses rarely seen outside the “before” scenes of a makeover montage. At the time, it hurt.
These days, I can’t imagine who I’d be if I wasn’t a gigantic dork, and these ten things had no small role in making me the out and proud geek I am today.
The Oz Books by Frank L. Baum
These were the books that changed me from someone who liked stories to a lifetime bookworm. It was a revelation to discover how different the books were from the movie, richer and stranger and full of odd, brilliant moments. More than anything, the books felt like pure imagination, a world in which anything was possible. Considering how much I loved this series, it’s really no surprise I became a fantasy writer.
Perhaps you’ve heard that, once upon a time, MTV played music. When I was in grade school, they even had a late night indie show called 120 Minutes. Every Sunday for two hours, I was exposed to music local radio never played, bands like Echo & the Bunnymen and Flesh for Lulu and The The. It’s a lot easier to be a geek when you find like-minded people, and this was my first lesson that there’s an entire world outside the mainstream, and it’s filled with people passionate about the art found there.
Interview With the Vampire
Not long ago, YA wasn’t the publishing juggernaut it is now, and devoted readers often found themselves jumping from Sweet Valley High books directly to Stephen King or David Eddings. For me, it was Anne Rice’s Interview With a Vampire. As an angst-ridden teenager, everything about the book just worked for me: the lush setting, the complicated heroes, and the hidden world just below our own. Plus, it was a definite step up from Sweet Valley High.
In high school, I didn’t go to parties on the weekend. No, my friends and I got together on Saturday night to watch Twin Peaks. It was unlike anything we’d ever seen, a strange mix of small town soap opera, murder mystery, and incomprehensible dreamscape. Before the the show premiered, TV had just been entertainment for me. Twin Peaks was the first time I understood it could be art, as well.
Lord of the Rings
I read Lord of the Rings in high school, plowing through it in a week. When I finished, I picked up the first book and started all over again. I was amazed by the forethought and care that went into every page of this series, producing a world so detailed and complex few fantasy novels have even come close to the same achievement. Plus, Strider was my first literary crush, and I will never apologize for that.
I discovered Blade Runner when my college boyfriend forced me to watch it. Let’s just say my love for this film lasted longer than our relationship did. Before I saw this movie, I’d never had much interest in science fiction. The little I’d seen felt cold, the stories more interested in technology than those who built it. I was, obviously, a fool, and this gorgeous, complicated film that examined what it meant to be human showed me just how wrong I was.
Parable of the Sower
I don’t care how glutted the market is with dystopian novels. I will never stop reading them, because I fell head over heels in love with the genre the moment I read Parable of the Sower by Octavia Butler. It’s the dystopian novel by which all others are measured (and found wanting).* Still, if there’s a chance I might find a fraction of the depth and intelligence of Butler’s masterpiece in another novel, I’ll keep looking.
*The Handmaid’s Tale is the exception, but I had to choose one. I read Parable of the Sower first, and it rocked my world just a bit more.
Buffy the Vampire Slayer
I couldn’t possibly leave Buffy off this list. Much like Blade Runner and Twin Peaks, the TV show mixed and matched genres with abandon, but Buffy also played with tone in a way few shows manage successfully. Alternately heart-breaking and hilarious (often in the same scene), this show constantly kept viewers on their toes. Plus, it featured a kick-ass heroine who never apologized for her kick-assiness. It’s a word, I promise. All urban fantasy writers that came after owe a huge debt to Buffy. I definitely do.
Killer Bunnies and the Quest for the Magic Carrot
Killer Bunnies wasn’t just a card game. It was a gateway game, one that led to Chez Geek and Ticket to Ride and Agricola. Soon, I was asking all my acquaintances if they wanted to come over for a game night, and this became something of a litmus test for new people. If you wanna hang with me and my friends, it helps to be down with the bunnies.
I’m cheating for number ten, but it’s impossible for me to narrow it down to the series that influenced me the most. When I was waiting to have open heart surgery to repair an aortic aneurysm, I read one urban fantasy novel after another, often making it through ten books in a single week. It was my escape from a difficult reality, and when I was healing, I discovered another form of escape by creating my own urban fantasy world. I think it’s safe to call this a pretty big influence, not just on my geek quotient but on my life. It’s one reason I have little patience for those who demean genre fiction. These books matter, and they sure as hell mattered to me.
Mia Marshall spent time as a high school teacher, script supervisor, story editor, legal secretary, and day care worker before deciding she would rather spend her days writing about things that don’t exist in this version of reality. She has lived all along the US west coast and throughout the UK, during which time she collected an unnecessary number of degrees in literature, education, and film.
These days, she lives somewhere in the Sierra Nevadas, where she is surrounded by her feline overlords.
Available on May 6, 2014 by Match Books
Aidan Brook is hours away from a peaceful life. Once she accepts her future as a banished elemental, she can leave her family’s island and return to Lake Tahoe, where she’ll spend the rest of her days controlling her magic in a calm, stress-free environment. That plan hits a snag when a member of the elementals’ governing body is murdered—and Aidan’s best friend is accused of the crime.
Before the body cools, Aidan is racing against the clock to prove Sera’s innocence. To make matters worse, she must face the consequences of the bond she now shares with her favorite bear shifter—all while her sanity grows less predictable by the day.
Magic, murder, and mayhem: it may look like a typical Aidan Brook day, but she’s about to discover, when the tides start to turn, even a water elemental can’t control what happens next.
Read an excerpt | Watch Book Trailer
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