My favorite Christmas carol is Good King Wenceslas.

When my brothers and I were young, our dad would read to us every night. At first they were the simple books of childhood - "Where the Wild Things Are," "On Beyond Zebra." But as we grew, he started reading us mythology, just so stories, old fables and fairy tales (the good kinds - the ones with violence and danger). Summers in Minnesota he read us The Song of Hiawatha and Charlotte's Web (a version, I might add, that was never - EVER - published). Then came the fantasy, and over a period of a year he read us The Fellowship of the Ring. I remember dearly the night that Gandalf fell battling the balrog. Even more clearly I remember when he came back as Gandalf the White.

But it's Susan Cooper's "The Dark Is Rising" that I remember most of all, and how a simple christmas carol sent Will Stanton into a different time and different world to receive the stone out of song. One winter during in High School, Dad and I sang "Good King Wenceslas" as a duet - him as the king, and I as the page. I get a little teary whenever I hear that song. It reminds me so much of the nights Dad would read to us. Just one more chapter and we'll go to bed. Let's find out what happened to Sam and Frodo first. When does Will find the next sign of light? Just one more chapter - just one more.

People have asked me why I write, and where I find my inspiration. My world is one of fantasy and wonder, all laid out for me by my father who created for us the story of the tule fog. He gave me imagination and that anything can happen and that I can create anything if I wanted it to be. I've always wanted to see the world as he sees it, in shattered mirrors and dancing light, a world in which everything has a voice - everybody has a story to tell.

For all the stories my father gave me, I write all my stories for him.

Happy birthday, Dad, I love you so much.