“Year nine is the last time that you’re ever truly free,” my friends in the sixth form had sagely told me, over their cups of school café decaf tea. “You’ll regret not doing more with your time when you’re stuck writing essays and having exams.”
Naturally, this set alarm bells off in my fourteen-year-old head. I didn’t think that I was squandering my youth, but when faced with such a dire situation, I hastily began to re-evaluate my choices: though I rowed, I was very firmly in the ‘C’ boat, and that was hardly doing anything fun; I sang in the school choir, but was placed in the back row as damage control for the flatness of my voice; and whilst it was, and still is, the highlight of my year, the Inter-House Jigsaw Competition was hardly the coolest activity that I could imagine. I looked at them, too old for uniform, too old to bother wearing anything to school but Uggs and a tracksuit, and I wondered ‘how can I make the most of my last year of liberty’?
The first step that I took was going on Tumblr – in fact, I procrastinated on Tumblr for roughly six months. Once I had managed to finally break this bad habit, summer was well and truly underway, and I was sitting in the holiday house in Cornwall with no WiFi and boredom that almost made me want to go outside and start doing something productive. Almost. In reality, I spent a few hours playing solitaire, fiddling with the language settings, and trying to make a laptop without internet fun. It was not fun.
When I had exhausted the possibilities of what I could do on my computer, I thought long and hard about what on Earth I could do next. Something fantastical, something awesome, something that would make all of my friends and not-so-friends as incredulous as possible. I had a bagful of books with me: the ‘Wind on Fire’ trilogy, ‘The Hobbit’, ‘Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix’. They caught my interest for the beautiful and living worlds that they described. I wanted to be Kestrel, I wanted to be Bilbo, I wanted to be Luna. I wished that there would be more fantasies that covered what I wanted to hear about.
And then it hit me, I would write them.
I have always had an active imagination, and for once, the odds seemed to be in my favour. Something about the beautiful setting, the ruins of Tintagel Castle across the bay from me, sparked new and interesting thought patterns in my brain. Cornwall was like Middle Earth, or Albion, a land of untold possibility. I imagined a teenager sitting at a table in a world without electricity, without any real knowledge of the outside world. Unwilling to leave the comfort of my bedroom, I started tapping out a story, and the valiant Asa Hounslow stepped onto the page.