I sometimes joke that Star Wars changed my life, but I’m only half kidding. I first saw the movie when I was seven and I became instantly obsessed. Model x-wing fighters hung from my bedroom ceiling, the Millennium Falcon I built with my dad had a light-up cockpit, my Empire Strikes Back lunchbox still had its thermos, and my Princess Leia action figure was the one with the real buns - you know, fake hair instead of plastic that you could never fix after you’d messed with it. I should have saved those toys. My collection would have rivaled any I’ve seen.
Over the years, I’ve loved and binged on many other stories - the original Battlestar Galactica and the later reboot, Firefly, Buffy, Supernatural, Falling Skies, Daredevil, and Walking Dead, to name a few. When I finally attended my first Comic Con, I began to understand fandom as a phenomenon. These were my people!
I think we fans of sci-fi and fantasy, and all the sub-genres in between, are drawn to these stories not only because they spark our imagination, but because we can explore real issues from the safety and distance of another planet, or from a parallel universe, or with superpowers. We can cheer the heroes who fight the darkness, slay the dragons of our nightmares, and build a world with a place for us all. Our fandom affords us the chance to do that in community.
I write science fiction for the same reason I watch and read it. First, because it appeals to my imagination on a deep level, and second, because I can explore heroes and worlds of my own creation. I can put my characters through hell, wage wars, build and destroy entire governments, design worlds. I can exercise my demons on the page. For me, the satisfaction of creating these stories is very similar to the enthusiasm I have for other people’s stories. And having fans is as much fun as being a fan!
Cons are places where fans can interact with artists, and where people who find joy in a good story come to celebrate that story, whether it’s found on a screen, in a comic, or in a novel. Attending Cons as a fan gave me the idea that I might have success attending them as a writer. I hadn’t seen many authors selling novels at traditional Comic Cons, and I couldn’t be sure this was a crowd full of avid fiction readers, but I took an educated guess that those who did enjoy reading would be my audience.
It was easy to talk about my stories to people who were already sci-fi fans! And, because I’m a fan too, I had many enthusiastic conversations not only about my own work in terms of influence and comparable work, but about newly trending sci-fi TV shows, movies, books, collectible, and costumes. I had as much fun behind my table as I did when I was an attendee. And I sold every book I brought with me.