I was a late bloomer. That’s a pretty broad statement, but I’m specifically referring to reading. Sure, I read a few comics when I was young. I also read many sections of some D&D books. Other than that, I read only what I had to to get by in school. I was forced to read Animal Farm, Through the Looking Glass, A Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich, and a bunch of other stuff I’m having trouble recalling. While I always thought some of them were okay, they never gave me the inspiration to pick up reading on my own. My reading/writing skills weren’t great. I only got a 390 (out of a possible 800) on those SATs (Standard Assessment Tests for college admissions in the United States). Oddly enough, I scored a 790 on math/science. I always thought that was my path and so I ended up choosing a science field when I joined the US Airforce.
I loved music and I loved Led Zeppelin. One day I was perusing a book store and I came across an unofficial biography of Led Zeppelin called Hammer of the Gods. I bought it on a whim. I couldn’t believe I actually finished a book for fun. I was stunned. I wanted more. I went back to the bookstore and ended up in the sci-fi/fantasy section. I saw Dragonlance, Dragons of Autumn Twilight by Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman. It was a book based upon a D&D setting. I gave it a shot. I devoured it. I read the whole trilogy. It was amazing. My brain exploded with possibilities.
What to read next? I knew then that fantasy was my thing. Going back to that sci-fi/fantasy section I saw all the possibilities. There were so many to choose from! Being of an analytical mind, I decided to just go in alphabetical order, so I picked up Douglas Adams’ Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. I didn’t know I could laugh so hard at a mere book. I still wanted fantasy though, not sci-fi comedy, so I went to the next name, Robert Adams. The Coming of the Horseclans was a wonderful journey into a fantastical post apocalyptic world. These books, there were a lot of them, really served to expand my vocabulary with a lot of fancy names and foreign terminology to my young eighteen year old mind. I still love these books today. Next on the shelf was Poul Anderson whom I skipped. I couldn’t tell you why. Maybe the covers didn’t appeal to me, maybe the titles of the books just grab my attention. Haven’t read his stuff to this day. Maybe I should correct that. So I moved on to Piers Anthony and On a Pale Horse., book one of The Incarnations of Immortality series. Read all the ones out at the time. Moved on to his Bio of a Space Tyrant series. It was okay. Then I tried Xanth and couldn’t continue. Those books felt boring to me. Went into the Bs with Terry Brooks’ Shannara series. I liked them a lot at first, but found them repetitive after the first three and so moved on. I read somewhere some critical praise for The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant. I read Lord Foul’s Bane and that really blew my mind. This was fantasy for adults that seemed to be a much more serious attempt at making fantasy literature a more respectable form of writing. Donaldson was doing things in this series that I didn’t quite understand in my young adult mind, but I knew it was special. In between all these books I would intersperse a novel in the Dungeons & Dragons universe and I always enjoyed those the most. The D&D novels got so popular with the advent of a certain dark elf character that they published at least one a month. That kind of reading schedule and my foray into comic book collecting consumed my time and my budget.
Finally, I decided that I needed to learn how to write and began college. Yet another Creative Crossroad…