Thursday, October 21, 2010

Meeting My Heroes

In just a moment, I'll be catching the bus to the airport to go to Denver for MileHiCon, and then I'm taking the scenic route back, via train, so I'll be gone for a week. I won't be doing a writing post next week because I'm not entirely sure I'll have Internet access on a day I'll be spending on the train. I may try to post blogs or photos with my nifty new phone, but as there seems to be a learning curve, I will likely post only to the LiveJournal site, not to Blogger (unless I figure out how to copy and paste on the phone). And all that will depend on Internet or 3G access as I cross the midwest on a train. I suppose this would have been a good time to get on Twitter, but that would have been yet another learning curve I don't have time for.

One of the cool things about this convention for me will be the chance to meet Katherine Kurtz. Her books pretty much got me through high school. I was absolutely obsessed with the Deryni series. I discovered the first book in the library, fell madly in love with the characters, then immediately went and bought that book and the next two in that trilogy. I was disappointed to learn that the next trilogy was about an entirely different set of characters a couple of hundred years in the past, so I didn't bother with those books. Until, that is, a friend dragged me to her favorite place to shop for books, and the only thing that struck my fancy at all was the first book in that next trilogy. Since she'd been so high on this being the best bookstore ever I felt I ought to buy something, so I bought it. It was a while before I read it, and then I discovered that I liked that set of characters even better. In fact, that book, Camber of Culdi remains my absolute favorite in the series. My copy is tattered and falling apart, and yet that's the one I'm going to bring to get autographed. I plowed through that series, even as it got increasingly tragic.

In spite of the tragedy, danger and violence, it was the kind of fully realized world that I wished I could live in. I liked that she'd done so much world building that there were family trees in the back where you could see how the various groups of characters intersected (though those could be spoilery, since you could tell which characters were going to die in which books). For a history nut, these books were like crack, and they got me into researching the parallel periods and situations in our world.

But mostly, it came down to the characters. I think I fell in love with most of the men (well, the good guys). Rhys Thuryn remains on my list of top ten literary boyfriends, ever. I actually felt a sense of loss when I closed the covers on one of those books because it was like saying good-bye to friends. I didn't have a lot of close friends in high school, so I often needed an escape, and I liked having these imaginary friends and images of close friendship that were in these books.

I already knew I wanted to be a writer -- and a fantasy writer, at that -- long before I read these books, but I think some of my earlier stabs at the genre owed a lot to Katherine Kurtz. There were some really bad attempts at epic fantasy that spanned generations that have fortunately been lost to time and to outmoded operating systems. I still have a few ideas I hope to get back to, and I suspect they still show some of her influence.

Now, the question is, will I have the nerve to talk to her, or will I stammer and avoid her? I don't seem to be on any panels with her, so I don't have to worry about that, but on the other hand, that doesn't automatically put me in the position of "professional peer" either. I've had good luck in meeting many of my literary icons and ending up becoming friends of a sort with them, so I probably shouldn't be this nervous, but I don't think you ever grow out of being a fangirl, and I suspect I'll end up reverting to my inner sixteen-year-old who first fell in love with those books.

1 comment:

Chicory said...

I hope you have the courage to talk to her. One of my great regrets is that I never got a chance to meet my literary idol, Lloyd Alexander, in person. I did write to him once, though, and he wrote back. :) It's a very treasured letter, as you can imagine.