It came in the mail, a package from my Aunty for my sixth birthday, I remember what the book had smelt like brand new, the feel of the leather back and once I had laid my eyes on the red leather bound book I’d never been more excited or in love. Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll was written in tall, golden, lettering on the front cover, inside the pages were metallic gold around the edges, and the artistry in the images was absolutely magnificent. I read it every day, chapter by chapter. Every year my Aunty would send me a new book, filled with beautiful pictures. But always I would come back to Alice. Until I finally decided exactly what it was I wanted to do. It was a need that came from somewhere deep within my tiny beating heart.
I wanted to be a writer, just like Lewis Carroll.
So, every day I would write my own little books with pictures and staple down the centres of the white A4 paper I’d scrawled upon and folded together to make some semblance of book.
I first told my mum, “I want to be a writer” when I was twelve. As any mother would she encouraged me to strive for that dream. When I was fourteen, I had been reading and writing and writing and reading, then one day this idea sprung into my head like a spark of electricity and I sat down at my sister’s computer and started tapping away at the keys. ‘Forsaken’ was the title I wrote and from there it took shape.
‘Forsaken’ was to be the first story I would ever finished and I was so elated that I took it to school and showed it to my friends. They loved it of course, but I never felt like it was complete – as though I needed more closure. As the years churned on through the rough and gruelling stage that we call high school, ups and downs of social dismemberment and boys! I kept going back to the story and adding pieces and cutting others, changing characters and scenes and relationships, yet there was still no closure. It still wasn’t finished.
One day my mum came to me, and told me that my aunty – the very same that had instilled within me my deep passion for stories and writing and fantasy worlds – was ill. My writing was put on hold. I started travelling down the coast every few months to spend time with her as much as I could. I decided finally to tell her that I was writing my own stories. I’d lost the drive somewhere along the way, I was unsure about whether it was dream I would fully realise. But, my aunty spurred me on and encouraged me to keep at it.
Then the day came my aunty passed and I was driven to finish Forsaken and the entire series, if not for myself then for her.
As the years passed I fell in love, got burned by that love, met the man of my dreams (my knight in shining armour), went to university, managed a business in the food industry, turned twenty-one, started a band with my brother, wrote a tonne of songs, wrote more books to the Forsaken series, got married, almost got famous with the band before we parted ways, went back to university, sold the business, and had two children before I one day just sat back and said, “Finally! Forsaken is finished.” By this time I was Twenty-four.
So amongst everything that life chose to throw at me I had finally reached my destination, I had never stopped thinking about my characters and very much so loving them as though they were part of my family too – after all they had been in my life for ten years. I had also never forgotten the challenges life had given me, but also I had let myself grow with them rather than let them bring me down. I fully believe our life experiences shape and change what we write, how we write, and the realness of stories come from the emotions of our own experiences.
Nyssa Asmussen (writing as N.R. Marxsen) is the author of the new YA book, Forsaken (Short Stop Press $24.99), now available at book stores and online at www.shortstoppress.com. She lives with her husbandNathan and is busy raising their two children in rural Queensland.