Believe me when I tell you this: a librarian saved my life.*
I was eight and a sweet kid despite an exceedingly grim home life. (Too little money and too many problems—while there may be as many unhappy families as there are stories about them, suffice to say ours was a family unhappier than most.)
That was when Thomas S. Huse came into my life. He took over the school library at Palomar Elementary, as well as the school’s gifted program, and because I had been a middling member of the latter, I became a fixture in the former. Over the next few years, Mr. Huse changed my world for the better, though the long-term effects wouldn’t be clear for decades.
Mr. Huse didn’t just introduce me to books—everything from Beverly Cleary’s Henry Huggins stories to Robert Silverberg’s middle-grade adventures and more—but also he opened up story itself. It wasn’t enough that I was a reader, but I also had to write. Stories were to be illustrated and bound for the library shelves, plays were to be cast and enacted for the school, and, when I showed an interest in filmmaking, he contrived a way for me to direct a Claymation film that later won the California Student Film Festival. (Thank you, Mr. Huse.) He transformed me into a devoted reader, a filmmaker, a writer, and a storyteller. He opened up the world so that, when the time came, I’d be ready to go forth into it.
That time came, of course. The family collapsed, but I escaped—off to film school at U.S.C., where I got my B.A. (Thank you, Mr. Huse), then to Hollins University, where I got my M.A. and won a writing award. (Thank you, Mr. Huse.) Later, tapping into the love of reading he’d nurtured, I became a children’s book editor. (Thank you, Mr. Huse.) And now, with The Glass Gauntlet and The Blood Guard, I get to write stories like those Mr. Huse once put in my hands, saying, “I think you’ll like this one.” (Thank you, Mr. Huse.)
I hope he’d like this one, too. Thanks for everything to Mr. Huse, and to you, as well—true friends to books and to readers alike.
* Not literally, of course, but in a far better figurative sense: He showed me that there was much more to life. He did that whole Great Expectations thing to me, so that I had something I’d never known until then that I was missing: a future.