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Guest blog with Chloe Neill



In honor of teen week (and the second printing of FRIDAY NIGHT BITES!), Chloe Neill is here to talk about:


ARE YOU THERE GOD? IT'S ME, MERIT. 

Yes, it's true. As a teenager, I loved Judy Blume with such vigor that I actually used that line in FRIDAY NIGHT BITES. 

Although my reading time is a bit limited now, I spent the initial non-writing years of my life reading almost constantly. I spent summer vacations in my room with a book in hand, my gaze occasionally on the grassy lawn and country highway that I could see through my window, wondering if supernatural things had ever danced across the lawn, or if horses galloped down the highway in a simpler time. 

Books were my vacation, my getaway, my break from school and family drama. They were my respite, my holiday, and my answered to the world around me. I read Beverly Cleary and Lois Lenski when I was young, Nancy Drew and Judy Blume when I was older. I loved Harriet the Spy, Encyclopedia Brown, and the Three Investigators, and I read my favorite books over and over again until the spines were white from constant bending. 

My Mom tells folks that I was three when I learned to read, and while I'm not sure if she's being extravagantly proud, I remember when she'd read Laura Ingalls Wilder to me in bed. I remember looking at the pages and not recognizing the symbols that I saw there--and I remember finally being able to read those words. I cuddled down with Little House in the Big Woods, wishing I had a wooden attic with a window on the snowy world. 

Of course, this was the south, so there really wasn't much snow. But even for the difference in climate, there was something so earthy and real about the books, the same quality I appreciate now in The Grapes of Wrath and Undaunted Courage. 

When I grew older, in between reading and rereading Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret, I passed through my Sweet Valley High and R.L. Stine phases, then devoured every Xanth book I could find. I loved reading books in series even then, but there were also random, single titles of which I remember little snippets.  A book about Benedict Arnold's wife? A book about a farm with a handful of horses, one of which was named Pigeon. A picture book about a squirrel's treehouse.  I don't remember the names of any of them, but I remember sitting in my room on steamy summer days, my nose in a book. 

Good times. :)

Happy reading, everyone!

Chloe




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