Monday, April 2, 2018

The Book That Started the Dream

By Judy Penz Sheluk

"People were never right in saying I was Anne. But in some respects, they will be right if they write me down as Emily." L.M. Montgomery

Emily Climbs has had many covers over the years.
This is the dust cover of my book.
Like many mystery writers, I grew up on Nancy Drew, graduated to Agatha Christie, and have discovered many other favorite authors since. But unlike others, Nancy wasn't my first inspiration, nor was Dame Agatha. In fact, my inspiration came from a Canadian author who didn't write mysteries.

L.M. Montgomery is best known for her Anne of Green Gables books, and yes, I've read those. But it was her Emily of New Moon books, specifically, Emily Climbs, that first made me think, "I want to be a writer when I grow up."

The book was a Christmas gift from friends of the family when I was about eight-years-old, and it's still on my bookshelf, despite many moves and bookshelf-thinning since. For those of you unfamiliar with Emily Climbs, here's a brief synopsis:

Emily Starr was born with the desire to write. As an orphan living on New Moon Farm, writing helped her face the difficult, lonely times. But now all her friends are going away to high school in nearby Shrewsbury, and her old-fashioned, tyrannical aunt Elizabeth will only let her go if she promises to stop writing. Fortunately, cousin Jimmy provides a solution: Emily can't write a word of fiction. While Emily isn't convinced this is much of a concession, it paves the way for her future success as she hones her skills as a journalist and storyteller.

I so loved this book that I promised myself that when I wrote my first novel, the main character's name would be Emily. When I started writing The Hanged Man's Noose, the first book in my Glass Dolphin Mystery series, Emily Garland came to life, and she's back in A Hole in One. Thank you, Lucy Maud Montgomery, for creating a character who quite literally changed my life.

What about you? Do you have a favorite childhood book that inspired you? 


  1. Like most mystery writers, Nancy Drew. Anne of Green Gables for her spunk and sass. And Meg Murray from Wrinkle in Time, for her determination and courage.

  2. I think Nancy and Agatha inspired more than a couple of generations, Margaret.