I’ve always wanted to be cool -- desperately so. But it was never meant to be.
I was the kid whose mom gave him a Members Only jacket two months after every other boy in junior high school already had one -- and it was clear that it had been purchased on a sales rack and was two sizes too big for me. For those who did not grow up in the early 1980s, a Members Only jacket was considered the ultimate status symbol. I was a poser and everyone knew it.
I remember my mom buying me a pair of Wrangler jeans before the start of my junior year in high school. No one wore Wranglers. Not that there is anything wrong with Wranglers -- they are fine jeans by all accounts. But at my school, it was Levis or nothing.
I, of course, wore Wranglers.
And then there was Van Halen. Not the Van Halen with Sammy Hagar. No, the REAL Van Halen -- with David Lee Roth. And not the Van Halen that released the album “1984” with overly synthesized hits such as “Jump” and “Panama”. No, I am referring to the pre-”1984” Van Halen that pumped out music like “Running with the Devil”.
There was a Van Halen concert in my hometown the summer before my freshman year in high school. Everyone who was anyone went to that concert -- and they all purchased really awesome Van Halen t-shirts which they periodically wore to school over the next year. Everyone but me. I spent that night at home listening to a Glen Campbell album on an eight track. “Rhinestone Cowboy” indeed.
And it didn’t get any better in college. I was an art major who dressed and looked like an accountant.
Maybe -- just maybe, I thought -- the “cool” gene would kick in when I became an adult. You see, I knew it was not genetic. My brother epitomizes cool. And he does it without even trying. But alas, it was not to be. And so I have had to face the facts.
I am a geek.
I collected comic books while my brother collected baseball cards. I sat for hours on end and enjoyed the work produced by people such as Jack Kirby, John Byrne, John Buscema, Gil Kane and Steve Ditko, among others. (Oh how I hope there are people other than me who know these names). I still have every comic book I ever purchased safely stored in a closet.
I have watched Episodes IV, V and VI of Star Wars a million times. It may be the single greatest cultural influence in my life. I have spent hours upon hours with my son building various Lego Star Wars sets. (For the record, I detest Episodes I, II and III. At what point did Jar Jar Binks ever seem like a good idea?)
I spent my childhood and teen years (including a lot of Saturday nights) reading every Stephen King novel that I could get my hands on. I knew more about Maine than my own hometown.
I have a Chewbacca action figure on my desk.
And I get all of the obscure geek references on The Big Bang Theory.
So what does all of this have to do with being a writer?
Well, I was going to write a blog post about my influences as a writer. It was going to be very pretentious with lots of references to obscure authors and full of deep thoughts. However, I realized very quickly that my influences -- my real influences -- were deeply rooted in my status as a geek. I can’t quote James Joyce, Hemingway or J.D. Salinger, but I know almost every line of dialogue in Star Wars (and, yes, Han shot first). I can identify almost every comic book artist from the 1970s or 1980s from a single panel of their work. And I asked my wife to marry me just before we went to a Star Trek movie. There are still lots of books -- very good books -- that have deeply influenced me and my work. I will eventually write about those books. However, if I was going to start an honest assessment of what helped form me as a writer, then this is it.
Geek and proud of it.
Deron Hicks lives in Warm Springs, Georgia with his wife Angela, daughter Meg and son Parker. He is getting a Siberian Husky next week, which is very exciting. His first book - SECRETS OF SHAKESPEARE'S GRAVE -- was published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Books for Children in September 2012. The second book in the series -- TOWER OF THE FIVE ORDERS -- is scheduled for publication in October 2013. You can find Deron at his website or you can follow him on Facebook.