Louise Penny

penny_louise_wblue_shawlA lifelong love of spiders... and literature

At the age of eight I sat on the edge of my bed, reading. To this day I can feel the nubbily bedspread under my hand. My other hand held a book that I didn't yet realize would change my life. That moment would come in a few seconds. I was in my bedroom because I was always in my bedroom. It was where I felt safe. The only place I felt secure in a world that had only ever shown me kindness, and yet I felt was scary and threatening.

Everything scared me. Except reading. In my bedroom.

I was reading Charlotte's Web.

High on the list of things to fear was spiders.

white_charlotteswebBut in that instant three things happened. I realized that Charlotte was a spider and that I loved her. In that moment I lost my fear of spiders. And in that moment I realized that the written word was the most powerful thing in the world. It could remove a fear. How amazing is that?! But I knew something else.

In that moment I knew I wanted to be a writer. It took 40 years, as I sifted through other fears, but finally Charlotte prevailed. And I got to be what that eight year old dreamed of becoming. A writer.

Louise Penny is the author of the award-winning Chief Inspector Gamache series. www.louisepenny.com

This "Writers on Reading" essay was originally published in "At the Scene" eNews October 2010 as a first-look exclusive to our enewsletter subscribers. For more special content available first to our enewsletter subscribers, sign up here.