This was an easy one! I could (did, and have) write entire essays about how Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials changed me. They are, of course, about growing up, and they helped me through an excruciatingly difficult period in my life when I was convinced that every little thing was the end of the world. The stars could be falling in beautiful bursts and I would have been crying in my room, refusing to see them for all the memories and anger and hurt I held, but my newly discovered daemon whispered to me that we must build the republic of heaven where we are, to keep our mind free and curious and open rather than closed and surly and sullen so we can contribute to all the Dust in the universe.

The summer after finishing the book was wonderful. I learned to laugh again from the bottom of my toes and to appreciate the telephone poles flying past as we drove down the highway, the butter yellow streetlamps and warm summer winds, the smell of graduation parties and handfuls of sparklers. And later on, in fall, winter, spring when we finally all graduated high school, I had my daemon at my side to make life easier for me, to tell me that all was well and would be well and to calm down. My daemon sat on that echoey stairwell with me when I wrote self-centered angst in mottled notebooks and waited for a boy who would never come find me. My daemon trotted alongside me en route to every class and made snarky comments in boring lectures, pointed out that it was B, not C on exams and told me to focus on my homework.

And even though I have changed still, and so has my daemon (from an isolationist marbled cat to a more social Siamese) and even though I can laugh when accidentally stumble on the sidewalk, I still look in His Dark Materials for inspiration whenever I need some.

I might color this sometime.