I have often listed Betsy Byars as one of my biggest influences, but sometime after writing Mamba Point I re-read some Byars for the first time since middle school and realized how much Mamba Point was informed by her novels: the lonely hero, his sense of humor, his honesty, and his wont for flashback and overthinking everything.
In particular I thought of The Midnight Fox, which has a transplanted boy becoming enchanted by a dark-hued animal other people seem to despise; and I thought of The Cartoonist, which is about a boy who loves to draw.
How could I forget that The TV Kid — one of her saddest books, and one so devastating I’d been reluctant to go back to it — is almost entirely about a snake bite? I forgot all about that darn snake. So Byars has written a snake book too.
I’m afraid to read anything else by Betsy Byars, for fear it takes place in Liberia.