When I was eight or nine years old, I read The Hobbit. Even though I was so young, it set the course of my life. The Hobbit was to me what Harry Potter is to the millennial generation. The Hobbit took me to an alternative world where there were lush and dangerous landscapes, whimsical Hobbit holes and elevensies, romantic heroes fighting interesting evil creatures, an exciting journey far from home, and a tiny under-dog who suffered and triumphed. This book whisked me away from the reality of bullying at school, and angry voices rattling their way down the hall from my parents’ room. After The Hobbit, I read the entire Lord of the Rings trilogy. And then, I read CS Lewis’ The Chronicles of Narnia series, Madeleine L’Engel’s A Wrinkle in Time—and countless other books that inspired me. The result of all this reading, sparked by the magic of The Hobbit, was that I wanted to be a writer–and perhaps even a university English professor, just like Tolkien and Lewis. I wanted to be able to take people to an extra-ordinary place away from the mundane, but mostly I wanted to share with others something that is still difficult to articulate; the best that I can do is this: I wanted others to feel the magic that emanates from a written page just like I did—and just like I still do.