I wasn’t sure what to write out first, there were so many experiences at Gen Con that I’m sure it’s going to be more than one post and we were only there for a day! I finally settled on this post first, the highlight of the trip for me. Everyone has their idols, heroes, people they look up to that have influenced their life choices, their careers, and what they hope for their future. Of course my parents and my family have had a huge effect on my life, but the one thing that I want to become before I go on to the next great adventure is an author. My love for writing, reading, fantasy, and finally all things literature, was probably bubbling latent underneath the surface. Little things tapped into it, fantasy games on the Nintendo, a friend introducing me to Dungeons and Dragons early, a couple of books I read when I was very young. All of these helped to build a foundation for what I am today, but nothing had such a profound effect on me than when a friend pointed me in the direction of the Dragonlance Saga, a world created by authors Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman for the Dungeons and Dragons RPG. The story of its creation is long, but interesting, but that’s for another time. Needless to say, when I read The Legend of Huma I was hooked. You could say that Richard Knaak, who wrote Huma, was the one that hooked me, but the world created by Weis and Hickman is what landed me in the boat.
When we were planning this trip I had no idea that they were going to be there, much less others like Larry Elmore, Ed Greenwood, and R.A. Salvatore. As much as I loved Gen Con, their website sucks for getting information. I hope that they fix that in the future, it was just too damn hard to find anything. Anyway, I happened to see some mention of Tracy Hickman in their catalog while we were eating lunch, so I looked up his booth number, sure enough he had a booth. Then I looked for Margaret Weis, she had one too. Now I was on a mission, and adventure of sorts. Of course if I had known they would be there I would have brought a book for them to sign, so first goal was to obtain one of their books, preferably one of the Dragonlance Chronicles, so I stopped at one of the booths selling used books. No luck. I walked all over the place trying to find one selling books, nothing. Finally, I got a call from my wife that she was done with her scrapbooking class (stay tuned for talk about the awesome events for spouses), so I thought I’d breeze by Margaret Weis’ booth on the way to meet my wife. There, on her table, was a plethora of their books, both hers, and books written by her and Hickman. Now I was faced with the overwhelming decision of which to by. I had them all, it wasn’t easy enough to just buy something to fill my collection. I settled on a paperback reprint of the Dragonlance Chronicles, now my fourth copy of the trilogy, and Margaret signed it for me.
Of course here I am, standing in front of one of the celebrities of my life…you can keep your movie stars and action heroes, Margaret Weis is part of the duo responsible for hours upon hours of story, suspense, drama, love, action, and imagination that filled my head with nothing but her words. I’m trying not to sound like a stuttering fanboy while the guy next to me goes on about how she influenced his life, his writing, etc. Hey! That’s my story, I’m thinking, and then I realize that’s probably a lot of people’s story. I can’t begin to imagine how many times she’s told about how she had a profound effect on someone’s life, how she inspired them to write, or design a game, or just got them into reading. In a way I guess it made me a little less nervous to tell her that I felt the same way, and now my son is reading their work and he also has a passion for the written word that will set the tone for his entire life as well.
Anyway, she listened to the other guy’s story, thanking him and signed his book, and turning to me. I did tell her how much her work meant to me and how it had made me what I am. Gotten me to read, and interested in writing. How her creation, with Tracy Hickman, had sparked a love for fantasy, role playing, reading and writing that I hoped would turn into a profession I would love in the future. Yes, I gushed. I’m sure she’s heard it a million times, but it had to be said.
I would have loved to spend all day talking to her about her writing, but she had more fans to talk to and I was still on a quest. I had to pick up the damsel from her scrapbooking class, and still get a second name in my newly purchased book. Of course my wife was excited for me when she saw the book, she knows how important these two authors have been to me, so when I explained that our first stop was back to Tracy Hickman’s booth there was no question, just a nod and a determine look to stand beside me on my quest. So we reentered the grand melee that is the convention floor of Gen Con, our destination; the last booth in row 700. When we got back there, much to my dismay, Tracy Hickman was giving a lecture and would not be back for several hours. We had to endure to kill time, an easy feat at the convention mind you, until he returned.
Finally the time had arrived and we made our way back to the booth at the end of row 700. As we came around the corner there was a line, no surprise, to meet the father of the Dragonlance Saga. We got in line, and my lovely wife suggested she hold my place while I got talk to an artist that was close by, about doing a book cover. Yes, she’s amazing. So she took my copy of the Dragonlance Chronicles, and I went to see about a deal on a book cover.
We didn’t wait long after I got back and I finally got to tell Mr. Hickman the same thing I told Margaret. How much their work influenced me and all of that. He smiled and nodded, thanking me for the kind words. He signed the title page of the book, next to Margaret Weis’ name, and completed my quest to meet these two great authors. Sure, I have a pair of signatures in a book now, but the real treasure was to stand in front of them and tell them what I did. I’ll put that copy in my bookcase, next to the other three copies, and remember it well.
Again, just incase either of them read this, I would like to say, thank you so much for giving us such an amazing world for our imaginations to roam in. Your writing has always been something I have looked to for inspiration, and the depth of your worlds have always driven me to do better with my own. I hope to one day be in your shoes, and maybe hear someone else say what I said to both of you, but for now that dream is far away and I have a lot of work to do. Until then, keep it coming because we eat it up, and if you two ever get back together for any other books, be it Dragonlance, Deathgate, or a cookbook, I’ll be right there to buy it.