My father was in the Air Force. We moved around quite a bit. When I was ten, my brother and I washed up in Arizona while my parents spent some time figuring out their marriage.
I was a reasonably bright kid...it took me years to understand that being quickly verbal and having the ability to remember what I'd read didn't make me smarter or better than anyone else. It just meant I did pretty well on tests, which were the basic measure in school. But I digress. The brightness and the constant moving tended to encourage the introspective in me. I read a lot as a kid.
I was checking out a used book store in Arizona that summer nearly 40 years ago. Someone had turned in a complete set of the (I think) Ballantine paperbacks of the John Carter of Mars series by Edgar Rice Burroughs. I bought the first one, A Princess of Mars, and took back to my grandparent's house with me.
I was just starting to see (and, unfortunately, judge) my grandparents for who they really were (my grandfather had been born about 1913 or so in the deep south. He was a casually persistent racist, and his stories about the poor black residents of Florida were beginning to sicken me). With no one I could talk to about my roiling emotions, I wanted to disappear. So I opened the book and began reading.
When I emerged from Mars a couple of days later, I was stunned. I was still enough of a kid to hope that magic was real, but was getting old enough to recognize that it just wasn't so. But the book I held in my hand...it had transported me. It had taken me to another world, turned me into someone else. This was magic and power for real.
It was magic that I wanted to be abel to weild.
That was the day I decided I was going to be a writer.