Author Royce Buckingham Roars for Libraries
I’m a grown boy who was born in Richland, Washington and raised downriver from the Hanford nuclear plant, which might explain my mutated view of the world. As a kid, I loved stories, such as The Phantom Tollbooth and The Hobbit. I collected comic books, watched Jaws at nine years old, Star Wars at eleven, and Alien at thirteen. I was even a Dungeons & Dragons nerd.
I obtained an English degree from Whitman College and a law degree from the University of Oregon, and then became a prosecuting attorney. My first novel, Demonkeeper, was inspired by my work in juvenile court—it is a monster story about lost children being eaten up by the chaos of street-life. I wrote for 13 years in my spare time before I hit a home run in 2005, selling Demonkeeper to both Putnam and 20thCentury Fox within a month of each other.
Demonkeeper then hit the bestseller list in Germany. I have multiple monstery novels in multiple countries now and continue to write in my dwindling spare time.
I happen to live in Bellingham, WA with my wife, whom I met in the courtroom where she was covering one of my criminal cases as a reporter. We have two boys, neither of which have been eaten by demons, or goblins, or mutated trees…yet.
In 1971, when I was a boy of probably five years or so, my mom used to take me to the library in Richland, WA, where we lived. It was hot in Richland, one hundred and five degrees in the summer, and the library was an air conditioned haven away from the sizzling, cancer-causing sun (as we’d find out later after “tanning” for years).
At the library, the kids would wander for a bit, then this thing would happen—they’d begin to gather on carpeted steps in the back room like ducks around an empty park bench waiting for someone to arrive and toss crumbs. Then a little lady would shuffle in—the library lady. She was very old, maybe even forty! She’d open a book and start reading. We sat, we were silent, and we were transported. She wasn’t even a lady, but some sort of elder god. She read us stories.
More Library Love: What’s Your Experience from an Author’s Perspective?
I go to libraries as an author now, and when I walk into the room, kids are gathered. They sit. I start to read—my stories—and they go silent. Soon we are all somewhere else—a cave, a castle, the stomach of a large monster. For a few minutes I feel like I am five or eight or, usually, twelve. But when I’m done, I’m not. I’m forty-some. It’s okay, though. Any forty-some year-old will tell you that just to remember what it feels like to be five or eight or twelve for a few minutes makes it all worth it.
A Lion’s Pride of Programs
I love to visit schools. The visits are almost always set up by the school librarian, which is great, because they know what they’re doing!
Typically, the librarian will feature the Demonkeeper series or The Dead Boys in the library leading up to the visit.
They will often make posters, and many times they will get the teachers to read one of my books to the classes. The preparation makes for riotous visits. The kids are stoked. Books are read and sold and signed, and most of the kids scurry off to write their own stories. Victory! I usually leave a school with 100 new fans and lots of good karma.
Libraries are evolving. It is important that we fund them properly so that they can. If funds are cut because people don’t see the value, then it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy (i.e. the value of them will decline). I see librarians do more with less all of the time, but that doesn’t mean they need less. It means they could also do more with more. These institutions are the hallmark of an educated society. I cannot imagine a world in which Target or Walmart employees help us pick out our reading material.
Funding any sort of education should be a priority. This is an investment in the future of our society. The tradition of having a public place for citizens of any economic state to seek information and learn is one of the proudest in our culture. I can’t see any wisdom in letting that erode. Libraries are most important in schools, which are the natural habitat for a place of learning and information. It’s such a clear issue to me that I have trouble making an argument for it…libraries simply must exist.
On the show Meet The Author April 22, 2010.
I have been to ALA in Seattle, and I was overwhelmed. Wow! I met a librarian there who had me come to Napa, CA every other year until she retired. My first book, Demonkeeper, was featured at the Putnam booth, and I signed copies. I also met Laini Taylor and Jim DiBartolo there—they’d just published their first book too. Great memories, friendships, work, and other good things came straight out of it.
Facebook: Royce Buckingham – Author