Back in the 90s, I was immersed in fandom. The Star Wars prequels were on the horizon, TSR was releasing some its most original material for Advanced Dungeons & Dragons (Dark Sun and Planescape, baby!), comics had taken a more adult turn, and video games took a major leap forward with greater graphics and plot. I was reading the Wheel of Time series by Robert Jordan, and devouring issue after issue of the Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction. I spent late nights looting dungeons in Daggerfall, and many a weekend combing toy stores for the latest Star Wars figure. I snatched up the newest Magic the Gathering booster packs. Every Friday, I hung out with my local RPG club, rolling those d20s until I kicked that elemental lord’s ass.
Those were fun times, and though I wanted to be a writer, I didn’t give it serious consideration. I was happy playing around in the worlds others had invented. There’s nothing wrong with that. This isn’t a rant against fandom.
But I oversaturated myself with it. I still lived with my parents at that time, and my room was filled to the ceiling—literally—with my Stars Wars toy collection. Rather than saving the money to buy myself a car or get a place of my own, I blew my meager earnings on the latest RPG supplement, the fastest gaming computer, or yet another Boba Fett action figure.
People should do what makes them happy. The problem was, this stuff wasn’t making me happy anymore.
In the wake of The Phantom Menace, my interest in Star Wars dimmed. Not just because of that flawed film, but there were too many things to keep up with: the Expanded Universe comics, the novels, the card games—and all of it was supposed to fit into the official ‘canon’. I tired of toy collecting, and sold it off, one huge cardboard box at a time. I got bored with the Wheel of Time saga after the sixth volume, Lord of Chaos. I loved the ending, where Rand made the Aes Sedai kneel (after mistreating him), but by then the series had dragged its feet too much. My local RPG club had started to crumble, and I became frustrated with the pettiness between players, so I put up my d20s for two years. When I finally played a tabletop RPG again, the spark wasn’t there. Video games were taking up too much of my time, with nothing substantial to show for it—I mean, how times did I need to complete Dungeon Siege II?
Thus began the dark age of my fandom, in the first half of the first decade of the twenty-first century. Oh, I still watched genre films, and rediscovered Frank Herbert’s Dune books, J.R.R. Tolkien, and Robert E. Howard at this time, but I fell out of the loop. I took up other interests. I finally moved out of my parent’s house, to a place all by myself. Dealing with my real life became more important. During these years, I wrote the occasional story, many of them historical fiction. It was as if I was tired of fantasy, and needed to ground myself in reality.
But writing brought it all back to me. When I took fiction writing seriously in 2008, my pseudo-historical tales evolved into science fiction, fantasy, and horror stories. Not good ones, but at least they were coming. When I sold my first short story in late 2009, it was the boost of confidence I needed. My appreciation for fandom returned. This time, with a clearer head. I didn’t let it dominate my existence anymore.
So here I am, a few years later, with my first novel coming out this fall. It’s a science fiction epic; a space opera. Many of its ideas and characters were developed in the late 90s, during the heyday of my fandom. See, my interests, my passions, weren’t what let me down. It wasn’t the fault of George Lucas or Robert Jordan that I needed to step back for a moment, and balance my fandom with reality. Part of it was that I need to grow up where it counted. And part of it was, sometimes I wanted to create my own worlds, rather than simply interact with someone else’s.
Now, I keep up with the latest genre films, graphic novels, television shows, and most importantly, books. I recently bought a Magic the Gathering starter set. Whenever I pass the RPG section in the bookstore, I peruse the latest rulebooks and smile. Once again, I’m eagerly anticipating a new series of Star Wars films. I love Game of Thrones and The Walking Dead.
But this time around, I not only have my own home, but I’m married, with a young son. I can still enjoy my fandom, while cherishing what I have in the real world. One informs the other in a comfortable synergy that has made me the happiest I’ve ever been in my life. And that’s what this is all about.