It's definately about the escape for me... not exclusively of course. I don't get lost in the story of 'Winnie the Pooh and Tigger Too' when Im reading to my son... though there was that one time Tigger got stuck in tree... priceless... There's just something about spending some time with a book that holds such a great appeal to me. It helped me through my teenage years (and beyond), taking me on adventures, teaching me about the world, introducing me to new ideas, comforting me in hard times and introducing me to friends that I'll remember fondly (even if they are only figments of my imagination). To this day, even though I have video games, movies and toys galore, I feel incomplete when I go through literary droughts where I don't have a good book to read.
From a very young age I had a love of reading. The adventures are what really caught me up. Particularily JRR Tolkein, CS Lewis and pretty much any author that could spin a tale about exciting journeys in fantastic lands or future times. Good books would keep me up all night reading and frequently caused me to miss my first couple classes in the morning in high school because I had been lost in another world.
A few years ago I stumbled upon a series that really blew me away. The depth and scope of the world this author created captivated me like no other story before it or since. The characters were believable (notwithstanding the typical suspension of disbelief required to enjoy a fantasy world in the first place), the action exciting, the writing colorful and engaging. To me it is perfection in print and a standard to be held against all other writers and sagas in any genre that cross my literary path.
The Wheel of Time has been going on since the early 90's and the main series is 11 (very large) books with a few spinoff stories. It's been going on for so long that I never really felt it was going to end..... Until now.
I never personally knew the author, in fact I only found out upon his demise that his real name is James Rigney. Last year I was wondering what was taking the 'final' 12th book so long and in my searching found myself at his official blog where I found out that he was afflicted with a serious blood disease and was literally fighting for his life. He sounded positive in his last few posts which gave me reason to hope he would be all right and perhaps one day the series would be finished. This week however upon perusing my daily news one story stopped me short and gave me great pause.
Robert Jordan is dead.
All I can really grieve for is the story and how he will never finish it and I wonder if that's selfish on my part. I think though that a writer connects with his readers through his works and on a certain level the reader gets to know the author... a certain level being the key.
In general, people only get to know the personalities that we allow them to see. Personally I have had the experience where people have said to me that I am nothing like my first impression and it's only upon spending time with me that they understand who I am. The Robert Jordan personality that I know may not be the James Rigney that his family knew, but I connected with Robert Jordan, I laughed and cried as he told me stories and kept me company at times in my life when I felt I had no one else....
I mourn for the loss of that friend.