I happened upon a more recent paperback copy of Mary Renault's The King Must Die, and found myself transported back fifty years or more. Instantly, the memory of being swept into another place and time washed over me. Bought the book, took it home, and with some trepidation, started reading it again. Would it hold up? Was the magic still there?
Damned straight it was and is. Once more, I can barely put it down. I am in Greece right now, even though my body is at the lake and the fam is out fishing. Looking back, I see now how my fascination with archaeology got started, and remember how it felt to walk the remains of the palace at Knossos. Crete was a hot, dusty, boring little rock in the sea, so what magic trick did it pull to become a political powerhouse? Even then, I wondered at the fear the Minoans brought the "civilized" world. Reading Mary Renault's books taught me so much.
Even more clearly, it has come to me how she influenced me as a writer. First person voice, sometimes in the present, sometimes looking back from an omniscient future Theseus, is still my own favorite writing device. I want the reader to be the character. Renault does it perfectly. How odd it is to discover one's writing roots and see so clearly how they grew.
I have an old first edition of The Bull From The Sea, and barring hell or high waters, will start it next. How wonderful it is when the revisited past is alive and well, and not one whit diminished.