There are few things my father did that were good and memorable for me. Perhaps the greatest contribution he ever made that shaped the direction of my life was taking us to see the first Star Wars movie when it released on May 25th, 1977. Even now, I recall the magic of the movie, which sparked my imagination to new heights.
At the time, my mother and father were constantly arguing with one another after my sister and I went to bed. They apparently thought I was asleep, but I wasn’t. Their arguments kept me awake and were partly fueled by alcohol. I understood their inevitable divorce loomed in the future, and nothing would veer the direction they were destined.
Our father taking us to this movie was his way of trying to start doing things as a family, as he had never truly attempted anything outside of satisfying his own narcissistic demands before this. It was far too late to rectify the division between he and my mother. But on this night, he stepped up and did something memorable and something that impacted me for life. None of us had a clue how important this movie would be for my imagination and the fictional worlds I’d later create in my novels.
Not only were the visual graphics and sounds of Star Wars seemingly ahead of their time, our father had brought this movie to life in an unexpected different sort of way for us. The Fort Payne cinema had a VIP room, which he rented. This room was above the normal viewing room and had four seats boxed behind a large glass wall. The effect was greater than anything I had seen before. We sat with the full screen filling this giant window, making the cinematic effect even more vivid. There were no outside noises. No distractions. The four of us sat in awe watching this spectacular masterpiece movie undisturbed. He had even bought us popcorn and soda.
Even now, so many memories of that night excite me. The first time seeing Darth Vader, C3PO & R2D2, the light sabers, the X-wing fighters, the spaceships, the aliens, and the imagery with the vivid sounds were so much to absorb during one sitting. It was breathtaking, and I wanted more.
A few weeks after seeing Star Wars, I started writing my first science fiction/fantasy novel based upon the comic strips I had been drawing. All I had was notebook paper and a pencil, but I worked on the early part of the book a little each evening after school. But I didn’t use light sabers or anything like Lucas had. I wanted to create my own world with my own creatures, so that’s what I did.
By the time I was eleven years old, I had written my first novel. Of course, my writing had yet to mature and my vocabulary was still amassing, so it basically was crap, but writing the novel was the initial first step to becoming a novelist.
What ever happened to the first novel I wrote? The majority of it was chunked, but a part of the centralized idea crept into Devils Den several decades later.
So thanks, George Lucas, for nudging my creativity over the cliff to sail to new worlds I never knew existed. I expect my wicked muse will carry me into more unusual places as I grow older. But I’ll always cherish the first phenomenal viewing of the original Star Wars.
Happy 40th Star Wars!!!