I've really enjoyed reading the Friday Blog Hop and one of the blogs asked for a "guilty pleasure" book. I thought I'd pass on my story here, too. It's a great question--we all have those books that our friends or co-workers would go, "REALLY?!"
I grew up with much older brothers (12 and 14 years) and my mom worked in the local library, so I've always been surrounded by books and readers. I tore through my brothers' science fiction paperbacks and some still have honored places in my personal collection. They were important to me growing up, influencing me to do well in math and science and I met my husband and most of my friends through the science fiction conventions I attended. Most of my characters in my romance novels are fans and gamers, because those are the smart, funny people I know.
Anyway, I remember when I was ten or eleven, reading one of the Robert A. Heinlein novels written specifically for what they now call the Young Adult market, titled Podkayne from Mars. It wasn't his best work, but I didn't care. I adored it from the first page, because it was about a girl around my age who got to go on adventures, said the things she wanted to say and generally was successful because she was smart, even though she got in trouble for being a smart ass. [SPOILER ALERT!!!] It was one of those books I didn't want to end and when I read the epilogue, it was written by her brother. I was totally and completely distraught, because my beloved character had been killed. It was right after my oldest brother was killed in an accident and I'm sure that had a huge amount to do with my emotional angst.
Skipping forward twenty or so years, I started writing essays for our local science fiction club AND writers guild newsletters. BTW, I am The Queen of the 300 Word Essay, so this blogging stuff is cake. But, for an essay on what books have influenced me (which is another blog topic), I decided to reread Podkayne. Lo and behold, I got to the end and realized that all those years ago, I'd skipped over the sentence which implied she lived, but was only severely injured. All those years, I'd been convinced she died and I was wrong!
A few more years later, I was with my husband at a World Science Fiction Convention (why, yes, I am a fan girl!) in Boston, at a panel titled "Women Who Love Heinlein." Ian and Betty Ballantine were there as guests, as they had signed and edited many SF authors, including RAH. I got up and told my story about how I'd misinterpreted Podkayne's fate all those years ago and Mrs. B explained that in his original draft, he DID kill her off! Now, the book came out in the '60s for kids and it wouldn't do, so they convinced him to change the ending. Mystery solved and I was glad they had a chance to share the story.
Guess what came out from Baen Books a while later? Sure enough, a trade paperback edition of Podkayne from Mars with both endings. I spoke with a woman who works for them at another convention and said I should get a commission and she just laughed. But, at a library sale a few years ago, a shiver ran down my back when I found an old, well-worn copy of that juvy, that now sits on my shelf.
So, what's your guilty pleasure? Harry Potter or Twilight? You won't get any sneers from me, I certainly understand. A trashy romance from when you were a teenager that fed your love of the genre? I'd love to hear your story. Bring it into the light and share, please.