You have this series to blame for everything.
I can trace both wanting to be a writer and that more subtle moment of realisation that being a writer was actually a possibility to first reading the Tripods books back when I was about ten or so. I suppose, being rational about it, it's not strictly true that this series is responsible for my writing career: if it hadn't been these books, it would have been something else -- the Heinlein YAs, Asimov, Tolkien -- but the fact remains that it was these books.
The Tripods trilogy -- The White Mountains (1967), The City of Gold and Lead (1967) and The Pool of Fire (1968) -- is set in a future at least a hundred years after the Tripods took over. These three-legged monsters tower over trees and buildings, marching around the land and even across the sea on their long, articulated legs. They might be intelligent robots, they might be vehicles containing some unseen alien enemy -- their nature is one of the mysteries of the series. They are rumoured to hunt and enslave humans, but for the most part, they seem content just to remain in control of a pacified humankind. They do this through the most chilling feature of this future world: the Capping. In their fourteenth year, all humans are gathered up by the Tripods, their heads shaved, and a cap of metal wiring is embedded in their scalp. After Capping, a child has become an adult. After Capping, a child has become something other than what they were, something controlled, something less.
These books pressed all the right buttons for me when I first encountered them.
The rite of passage, something central both to so much adult SF and also to so much young adult fiction, is boiled down into this wonderfully symbolic event: the Capping. As a ten-year-old I was on the same side of that divide as our protagonist Will Parker: adulthood approaching, so much in the way of change approaching, and here it was, in an adventure story, symbolised by the Capping, the event after which one becomes adult, responsible, constrained, dull.
But unlike almost everyone else, Will refuses to meekly accept this and fights back. He doesn't want to be like other people, he doesn't want to lose who he is, and so he goes on the run, picking up like-minded friends along the way as he seeks a foreign land where the Tripods don't rule.
The like-minded friends bit spoke to me, too. There's little that's two-dimensional about these books. Will and his two fellow-travellers, Henry and Beanpole, are real people -- real adolescents. Their relationships aren't easy, with jealousy, misunderstanding and rivalry all mixed in. Leadership of the trio depends on circumstances and on who is currently in or out of favour. Will, in particular, while he has taken the lead much of the time, also tends to become the outsider of the three, and they all make mistakes. He also makes for a particularly rounded hero in that, while clearly capable of heroic acts, he is also prone to rash mistakes and consequently is sometimes forced to stand on the sidelines while more reliable individuals take the lead.
Oh, how I loved the idea of breaking out from all the constraints of childhood and doing what I wanted to do, in my own way! And oh how I recognised that if I ever did so, the ups and downs of friendships and rivalries and misjudgements and all the other business of being a child growing up would still intrude. The Tripods trilogy offered both fantastic escape and a reminder of the truth of how things really are.
Also, these books offered relentless adventure. How could they not, when we have three teenagers travelling long distances through territory controlled by an all-powerful and deadly foe? The tripods make fantastic villains, with their mind control, their size, their relentlessness. There's one phrase in The White Mountains that is truly, truly chilling:
For much of this first book, the tripods have loomed threateningly at a distance, but now ... they are coming after the boys.
A few days ago, I re-read the first book in the trilogy. I did this with trepidation, having re-read other fondly-remembered books that have turned out not to live up to the memories -- I'd put off this re-reading for a long time for just that reason. Subsequently, I re-read the remaining two novels in the series.
In my re-readings, I realised three things: