A long time ago, I opened a book, and this is what I found inside: a whole new world. It isn't the world I live in, although sometimes it looks a lot like it. Sometimes, though, it feels closest to my world when it doesn't look like it at all. That world is enormous, yet it all fits inside an everyday object. I don't have to keep everything I find there, but what I choose to take with me is more precious than anything I own, and there is always more where that came from. The world I found was inside a book, and then that world turned out to be made of even more books, each of which led to yet another world. It goes on forever and ever. At nine I thought I must get to Narnia or die. It would be a long time before I understood that I was already there.
My mother used to read to me every night when I was little. We got through most of the major fantasy books of that time. The Narnia books by C.S. Lewis were my favorites and, later, Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings. I started making dolls to fill in the gaps of the dolls I had. Obviously we couldn't buy centaurs and fauns and elves and fairies, so I made them to play with the normal dolls I had. I must have been about six years old when I started making fantasy dolls.
The castle of Cair Paravel on its little hill towered up above them; before them were the sands, with rocks and little pools of salt water, and seaweed, and the smell of the sea and long miles of bluish-green waves breaking for ever and ever on the beach. And oh, the cry of the seagulls! Have you ever heard it? Can you remember?