Jenn: The First Adventure


As part of our Medieval Studies unit in fifth grade, we had a reading project where we were divided into groups to read one book each of The Song of the Lioness quartet by Tamora Pierce. For those unfamiliar with the series, it’s about a girl who disguises herself as a boy so that she can become a knight. My group was assigned the first book of the quartet, Alanna: The First Adventure.

I fell in love. Alanna quickly became my favorite heroine. She didn’t take crap from anyone, including boys that were bigger and stronger than her. She dreamed big, and had the willpower to go after her dreams, even with society telling her to sit down and shut up.

We had a dress up day for the Medieval Unit. The other girls went as ladies; I went as a squire.

After I finished Alanna, I devoured the rest of the books. Then I went to the library and found Tamora Pierce’s next quartet, The Immortals. Today, I own all of her books — including her short story anthology, even though I don’t generally like short stories. And almost every year, I go back and read her entire library.

What keeps me going back after all these years? The characters. The plots. The world-building. The humor. The pure inspiration.

From her books I launched into the rest of the fantasy genre, with classics like Dealing with Dragons, Ella Enchanted, and The Hobbit. I’ve never looked back.

To say Tamora Pierce has influenced my writing is a huge understatement. She’s practically driven it. I learned that young adult fiction isn’t just for teens, that all magic comes with a price, and that there are many kinds of strength.

Jennifer A. Johnson is a newly published fantasy writer thanks to The Adventure of Creation anthology. She's still revising her first novel, but you can sign up for her free newsletter to pass the time.