Tuesday, September 17, 2013

The X-Wing Thunderbird

I didn’t see it coming.

It was 1977, and I was nine years old.  I sat in the dark at the old Southgate Theater in Augusta, Georgia with my seven year old brother.  The line to get into the theater had been crazy long -- like nothing I had experienced before or since.  This was not a modern multiplex cinema.  Southgate had only one screen.  But one screen was enough.  After all, there was only one movie in America that anyone wanted to see: Star Wars.

Everything had gone to pieces.  The rebellion was doomed.  Darth Vader had Luke Skywalker dead to rights.  Sure, Skywalker had the exhaust port of the original Death Star in his sights, but Vader and two TIE Fighters were hot on his tail.  There was no way out.

My heart beat furiously.  I held my breath. Heck, everyone in the theater was holding their breath.

And then it happened.

Out of nowhere Han Solo and the Millennium Falcon swooped in to save the day.  The next thing I knew, the TIE fighters were destroyed and Darth Vader was spinning helplessly into space.  In an instant the Death Star was destroyed.  All was well.

I simply didn’t see it coming.

I remember riding home in the front seat of my father's big white Ford Thunderbird pretending that I was Luke Skywalker piloting my X-wing fighter.  The memory is so clear.

As ridiculous as it sounds, I still get chills thinking about that day.  My wife thinks it is crazy that I didn’t know what was going to happen -- that I didn't realize Han Solo would save the day.

But I didn’t know.  

I didn’t see it coming.  It was a complete surprise.  

And I loved -- loved -- every minute of it.  I don’t remember a whole lot of what happened during my ninth year on this earth, but I sure remember that one day. (And don’t even get me started about the whole “I am your father” moment in The Empire Strikes Back.  It took me two weeks to get over that revelation.)

There is the chance -- no matter how slim that chance may seem at times -- that somewhere, at some point, a book that I have written might allow a young reader to experience some small portion of what I experienced on that day in 1977.  A mystery seems like a pretty good vehicle to try and bring that about.  There’s suspense, a rising action, a dramatic climax, good guys, bad guys and unexpected twists and turns.  Maybe, just maybe, I’ll hit the right nerve with some young reader.

I hope they don’t see it coming.  It’s a whole lot better that way.

Deron Hicks lives in Warm Springs, Georgia with his wife Angela, daughter Meg and son Parker.  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 or Twitter.

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