My love for fantasy is deeply embedded in my life.
When creating characters, I like to explore their backstory and personalities, and one way I do that is looking at their lives as a whole. I personally believe each of us has a seed of personality that begins in the womb, and that multiple variables and experiences will shape us over time. It is an ongoing process from the beginning of life to the end. Looking at others and myself while developing characters has been helpful, and I discovered that my love of fantasy, which has heavily shaped my life, goes all the way back to early childhood.
Visiting a local theater, one of my first exposures to fantasy was the 1981 movie, Dragonslayer. Galen’s adventures with Valeria and Ulrich against the dragon Vermithrax left a long lasting impression on me. Still one of my favorite portrayals of a dragon on film ever. Reign of Fire and Peter Jackson’s The Hobbit did well with the dragons.
Disney’s 1963 Sword in the Stone, the animated 1977 The Hobbit, 1981 movie Excalibur, the Dungeons and Dragons cartoon (1983-1985), and Black Cauldron in 1985 all solidified my love for fantasy. Wrapped into all of that was plenty of science fiction that drew me into the fold as well. Star Wars does have swords after all. 🙂
I began reading books in early elementary, and by the summer after 5th grade I decided to read Tolkien. In downtown Grandbury Texas, there was a store called ‘Books on the Square’. The ladies were very nice and seemed excited that I was a young reader. I worked with my father everyday for $5, and I spent just about all of it from that summer visit at that store. I bought plenty of Choose Your Own Adventure books, Time Machine books, and a boxed set of The Lord of the Rings that included The Hobbit.
Reading The Lord of the Rings wasn’t the easiest for me due to reading level at the time, but I loved it anyway. I was captured, and that led me to keep seeking more fantasy books. I also began playing the Ultima series of games by Lord British along with numerous other fantasy based text games on my aunt’s Apple IIe computer. I never really found other fantasy books until the summer between junior high and high school when I discovered Dragonlance and TSR.
Dragonlance: The Legend of Huma with Jeff Easley’s fantastic cover art captured my imagination. I remember seeing it in the book store at the mall, and I said to myself, “Okay, I’ll read this. If it is good I’ll see if there are more.” Of course there were more! Margaret Weis’ and Tracy Hickman’s Dragonlance: Chronicles and Dragonlance: Legends completely solidified my love for TSR and their books. The books set in the worlds of Dragonlance and Forgotten Realms held my interest. R.A. Salvatore’s Icewind Dale trilogy is wonderful. I probably bought and read the majority of TSR’s novels throughout high school and after.
When I was a freshman in high school I met my dear friend, Jason. On a fateful late September afternoon in Art class, he called me over and we became fast friends as well as brothers. It just so happened he played Advanced Dungeons and Dragons, 1st Edition. Talking about books, I introduced him to Dragonlance and he introduced me to the beautiful game of AD&D 1E. My first character was an 1E mage, and some time after we began playing, 2nd edition was published. Together with tons of friends, we played for years and years.
Fantasy is a great genre, and I have loved it for a long time. I’ve enjoyed many, many stories, series, table top games, video games, movies, and conventions. The best part has been all the friendships that have developed over the years. It has been a great journey.