I would imagine most of us can name a defining book (or series of books) from our childhood. And I'm not talking about a story that you loved or a book that you just couldn't put down. These books go far deeper, and they end up being far more important to us.
These are the stories that are woven into our character. They are the experiences we've never truly had (only existing in our imagination), but nevertheless they are the stories that have shaped us - transformed us - into the people we are today. They are the adventures and mysteries and romances that we carry with us forever.
For some of my friends, that story is The Chronicles of Narnia. They've grown up walking through the forest with Aslan and fighting next to Jewel in the Last Battle. For my wife, her defining story is Anne of Green Gables and for my son, Aidan, it's Percy Jackson. There's a whole generation defined by J.K. Rowling and Harry Potter.
But my story is slightly more obscure. I grew up in Prydain.
The Prydain Chronicles is a five book series written by Lloyd Alexander. Drawing on Welsh Mythology and The Mabinogion, Alexander writes about a young assistant pig-keeper named Taran as he goes on unlikely adventures and grows to become a man.
And at the heart of all five novels is the group Alexander affectionately terms "the Companions" -- Taran, Princess Eilonwy, Fflewddur Fflam, Doli, and the ever-faithful Gurgi.
And I remember sobbing at the end of the fifth and final book, The High King, because "the companions" had become my companions and now are adventures were at an end -- I knew I could always read the stories again, but then they would only be a memory. It would be different. Forever.
So how do The Prydain Chronicles influence Kira, the Rainbow Princess?
Just like Taran our assistant pig-keeper, Kira is not alone. She will depend upon a group of steadfast friends. And hopefully, if there's a heart to this novel, it will be found in those friendships.
And maybe one day in the distant future Kira will be important to someone else - it may serve as an adventure; an experience; a companion. Maybe.
But even writing that line down - trying to imagine Kira meaning as much to someone as Taran means to me - it seems like too much to even hope for. . .