I was 10-years-old and we were living in Port Elizabeth when we went to a Christmas function at my dad’s work. A fake Father Christmas was there next to a big, plastic green tree. I can remember nothing more about the night. I can’t remember where it was. Who I played with or what happened. What I can remember is what I got from Father Christmas that year.
Years later when I asked my parents about the night, they couldn’t believe it had made such an impact on my life. What they did know was that each employee was asked to bring a small gift and put it under the tree. They were given no names or age or gender information. Secret Santa wasn’t as organised as it is today. There was a gift and if Father Christmas called you up you took it.
I suppose you could call it fate. My parcel was small and rectangular. I ripped off the paper with enthusiasm and was rather shocked by the content. A skull stared at me, empty eyes that felt like they were looking through me. I shuddered and gave the book to mom and that was that. My first ever Nancy Drew.
It took me a while to work up the courage to read it. I am still scared of books with skulls on their covers, but once I got through it I was hooked. Nancy, Bess and George became my best friends. I still don’t like men named Ned – Seriously, how many times can one person get himself kidnapped? That was the book that started it all. Of course there had been children’s book before that, but it was Carolyn Keene (which is a pseudonym by the way) with her titian-haired detective that changed my life.
My parents opened a coffee shop soon after and I was allowed to seat the customers. If I worked from 9:00-14:00 I earned R15.00. A Nancy Drew Novel cost R14.95. I was the best little waitress right up until 14:00. After that, it was game over. I had a book to read.
Do you have book that started it all?
by Mia Botha for Writers Write