Normally I wouldn’t write a blog post listing three interesting facts about myself. But I have a reason. I recently had two school visits where the students asked:
What are your three IFs?
In BLACKBIRD FLY, my main character Apple Yengko believes that every person on Earth has at least three interesting facts (IFs) about them. Throughout the book she lists different IFs for various people in her middle-school world. So it makes sense that astute young readers would ask what my three IFs are. The problem is, I’ve never had an answer because I’ve never given it much thought.
Well, guess what, folks. I conjured up three interesting Erin facts. Whether or not they’re interesting is up to you, of course. But either way, they’re still facts. Drumroll please!
IF #1. I’m Filipino-American.
My mother is from Sogod, Southern Leyte. When I was a kid I was embarrassed of my heritage, but now I’m older and wiser. I’ve learned that it’s best to embrace what makes you different rather than conform to what’s “normal.” (There really is no such thing, you know).
IF #2. Asthma.
I have chronic asthma. When I was in elementary school, my asthma was so severe that my body would seize. Asthma attacks can cause sudden stiffness of the neck, which makes it difficult to move. Sometimes I’d just lay there crying for my mother. Luckily, she’d show up fast with warm cloths and medicine. Because I was sick all the time, I missed a lot of school and I spent a lot of time watching Pinwheel on Nickelodeon, which I loved.
Asthma is really irritating. It’s like an annoying nag that’s always hanging out in the background, ready to pounce and ruin your afternoon. It could be much worse, though.
Maybe one day I’ll write an asthmatic character …
IF #3. Rare books!
Rare books are one of my most favorite things. (By the way, when you’re asthmatic, rare book stores can be a challenge. But that’s how much I-heart-books). Here’s a few from my collection.
Wuthering Heights. This is my most prized book. It took a great deal of research for me to figure out what year this was printed. Turns out, it’s from 1848. I knew it was an early edition because it was printed under Emily Bronte’s pen name, which was only used for about two years. I also found out that Emily Dickinson had this same edition on her bookshelf when she died. (Not the same book, just the same edition). I would love to own an original first UK edition of Wuthering Heights, but it costs about $14K. But at least now you know what to get me for Christmas.
Uncle Tom’s Cabin. The first time I read this, I wasn’t sure what to make of it. I still don’t. But it’s an important book in the American canon, for better or worse, so when I found this at Macaluso Rare Books in Kennet Square, PA, I picked it up. This is an abridged edition for children from 1900, published about 50 years after the original.
The History of the United States, 1831. What were historians teaching people about our nation’s history back in 1831? You don’t want to know. But check out the inscription. (I love inscriptions!) Apparently this book belonged to Caleb Hollingsworth before it was given to Joshua Hollingsworth in February 1847.
What about you, dear reader? What are your three IFs?