Many – if not all – of you have an addiction. I know you do. Don’t lie. It’s okay. We’re all friends here. I know what your addiction is, too. I share it with you. It’s reading. And if that’s not your addiction, I’m not really sure what you’re doing here…but don’t worry, we’ll get you hooked in no time.

I’ve come to realize lately, however, that my addiction goes beyond the general term of “reading.” It’s more than ignoring laundry and dishes and those little people looking to be fed because I. Just. Can’t. Stop. until the last page. More than figuring out how I’m going to afford another trip to the bookstore to score my next fix. More than rushing out to buy the next book in the series. Or, if it’s not out yet, waiting for it with the patience of a two-year-old and when the time comes, standing in line or watching the Kindle clock with caffeinated jitters for midnight to strike on release day.

It’s more than loving a story so much that I don’t want it to end. More than appreciating the beauty of just the right words strung together perfectly. More than the thrill of an unexpected plot twist.

I’m addicted to characters and the worlds they live in.

When I fall in love, I fall hard. I can barely get through the day without thinking about the characters and where they left off when I had to put the book down for much needed sleep. I go to the store or the gas station and imagine taking care of these mundane activities in the world between the covers. And when I turn the last page, I want to cry. Because I don’t want it to end. I love these people. I love this world. I don’t want to leave it just yet. So…I read it again.

Yes, that’s the painful realization I’ve come to. I frequently read books more than once – I read for enjoyment the first time and, as an author, to learn the second time. At least, that’s what I’ve been telling myself. And it’s sort of true – I do pay closer attention to world-building, character development, story structure, etc., the second time around. But if I want to be completely honest, I read it again because I don’t want to give up the world or the characters yet. Because I only re-read those stories that I truly love.

Most recently, it’s Graceling by Kristin Cashore. I have to read it again. And perhaps even again. I can’t get enough of Katsa and Po. If you haven’t read it, hurry right now to get it. Beautifully written, adventurous story that has no dull moments and the best characters I’ve read in a long time. Better than Jace and Clary, my previous loves.

I’ve also realized this is one of the reasons I write – because when one story of Alexis and Tristan is over, I can always write more. I can spend time in their world whenever I want to and not even be limited by the same story over and over. But no, I can’t do fanfic. It just doesn’t feel right to me. I feel like it’s going into some stranger’s home and trying to impersonate their life. I might be able to get away with it from everything I can learn, but I can never really be that other person. Just as I can never write someone else’s characters.

Unfortunately, writing my own characters in my own world and spending time with them whenever I want to just isn’t enough for my addiction. There are too many other fantastic characters and worlds to enjoy, get lost in, become addicted to. The next hit is always out there.

What is your addiction? Is it just reading in general or do you have something more specific that you can’t get enough of? Characters? Worlds? Thrilling plots? Blood and guts? Or, perhaps, hot and steamy smexy scenes? Which characters and/or worlds do you suggest I fall in love with next?