By now you should know one thing about me if nothing else: I am a big, huge, entirely unapologetic full-on nerd. I am a 46-year-old man with a wife, two children, a mortgage, a dog, a career in what I guess I can call a “transition phase,” but I have money in the bank, two cars in the driveway, and in every conceivable way I live the real actual grown-up life of a responsible adult.

I was born in Rochester New York, grew up in suburban Chicago, and in 1997 moved to the Seattle area. I have had jobs as a book editor, a photojournalist (for about three weeks), a record store manager, a janitor . . . I’ve undergone life-changing events from deaths in the family to the birth of my own children. And through all of that there might be only one thing that has remained stable and unchanging, unchallenged even by those periods of rapid social and psychological transition we all eventually go through: I love SF and fantasy and all of the various off-shoots and side-treks in orbit around them.

I’m a voracious reader of SF, fantasy, and horror books. I’ve written a few, even. I spent fifteen years of my life actually working for the company that made Dungeons & Dragons. I literally live the geek. I buy monthly comic books, and consume graphic novels and collections like there’s no tomorrow, sometimes raiding the local library for stacks of them. I collect Ace Science Fiction Doubles, and have what I lovingly refer to as a “Star Trek shrine.” Both co-exist in a single book case at the top of the stairs. Here’s a picture of it:

The Madonna CD box set is my wife’s, I promise. I grew out of Madonna years ago.

Let me take this opportunity to point out the completed plastic model kit of Deep Space Nine on top, and next to that is—yes, you’re seeing it right. Not only did I buy and eat the Star Trek movie tie-in cereal, but I saved the box. I have the Star Trek Barbie & Ken and Pez dispenser collections, mint-in-box. That plushy Khan was a Christmas gift from my son.

The blue-and-red or blue-and-white paperbacks in protective plastic bags are the Ace Doubles, one of my great loves.

Off to the side you’ll see a mighty collection of D&D and other role-playing game books, and down on the bottom left, autographed copies of Deathstalker War by Simon R. Green and The Dark Wing by Walter H. Hunt.

Geek cred established.

He hasn’t grown out of comics at least!

Now imagine my confusion when I came across this in comedian and actor Patton Oswalt’s brilliantly heartfelt and hilarious memoir Zombie Spaceship Wasteland: “Dungeons and Dragons was the game I played. All through middle school and for the first couple years of high school—until the possibility of sex hove into view. Before that, sex seemed like something for tall people who could run fast.”

At least in high school it may be true that taller faster people probably get more sex—taller faster boys, anyway, probably chasing down shorter, slower girls. But wait . . . doesn’t every dog have his day…?

Read the rest in…

Editor and author Philip Athans offers hands on advice for authors of fantasy, science fiction, horror, and fiction in general in this collection of 58 revised and expanded essays from the first five years of his long-running weekly blog, Fantasy Author’s Handbook.


—Philip Athans


Follow me on Twitter @PhilAthans

Link up with me on LinkedIn

Friend me on GoodReads

Find me at PublishersMarketplace

Or contact me for editing, coaching, ghostwriting, and more at Athans & Associates Creative Consulting.



About Philip Athans

Philip Athans is the New York Times best-selling author of Annihilation and a dozen other books including The Guide to Writing Fantasy and Science Fiction, and Writing Monsters. His blog, Fantasy Author’s Handbook, ( is updated every Tuesday, and you can follow him on Twitter @PhilAthans.
This entry was posted in authors helping authors, authors to writers, best fantasy blogs, best genre fiction blogs, best horror blogs, best science fiction blogs, best websites for authors, best websites for writers, Books, comic books, Dungeons & Dragons, fiction writing blog, fiction writing websites, help for writers, helping writers become authors, how to write fantasy, how to write fiction, how to write horror, how to write science fiction, Publishing Business, Science Fiction & Fantasy Novels, SF and Fantasy Authors, transmedia, Video Games, websites for authors, websites for writers, writers to authors, Writing, writing advice, Writing Community, writing fantasy, writing horror, writing science fiction, Writing Science Fiction & Fantasy and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

6 Responses to DON’T GROW OUT OF IT

  1. Cees (Dutch) says:

    WOWOW, Phil!

    I thought I was the only one with a heart ‘n’ mind, too young for my body.. boy, did you wake me up, there!

    Although I haven’t got a lot of my collections of (Sci-Fi) books & comics left (after 2 separations and being burglared a couple of times), the feeling is still there, and I applaud you wholeheartedly.

    Since the burglars took most of my pride when they cleaned out the place (twice), I’ve now, avid and compulsive a collector as I am, started collecting a good amount of Sci-Fi (including all eleven Trekkie movies), Marvel and DC films, and I enjoy ’em everytime I put one on, even if it’s the twentiest time..

    Only one word springs to mind after reading yer post: ATABOY!! Thumbs ‘re up!

    A fellow fanatic

  2. By the way: I took the liberty of adding a link to your Handbook to my Blog..

    If you mind, don’t hesitate to tell me off..


    Dutch (Cees – pronounce: ‘Case’)

  3. theveryhungrybookworm says:

    THANK YOU! I love fantasy, SF, and everything else and it does not have to be something we grow out of. In fact, it stretches our minds in ways that realism never could.

  4. Shawn says:

    I don’t play D&D. I think I’m too shy and the few people I’ve met in my town that do play have turned out to be arrogant douche bags who I always felt were looking down their noses at me and the rest of the world. Or maybe that was my shyness.

    Well, they WERE arrogant douche bags.

    I still have the three core rulebooks for 3.5 (and Psionics, Vile Darkness, and Eberron) and I’ve read through them enough to understand some of the more basic terms (I remember when the term d20 blew my mind because I had never heard of any dice that went beyond 6). Maybe this is why the very last sentence made me laugh out loud.

  5. Pingback: BOOKS FOR FANTASY AUTHORS XVI: ZEN IN THE ART OF WRITING | Fantasy Author's Handbook

  6. Pingback: WHY FANTASY AND SCIENCE FICTION | Fantasy Author's Handbook

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s