Sunday, December 15, 2013

A letter to my high school German teacher

After renewing an acquaintance last week, I shot off a letter today to my old high school language teacher,who I saw back in June when I was inducted into the Academic Hall of Fame at my high school in Rockland, Massachusetts:

Here is a excerpt, with suitable editing to preserve privacy:

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While at the high school, Mrs. (another former teacher) was exuberant over how nice it looked after the renovation. "Doesn't it look great?!" she exclaimed.

And I said - truthfully - "I haven't set foot in the school since probably 1976; I never saw it run down, or become run down. Actually, it looks the same as when I last saw it."

That gave her some pause for thought.

It's these little observations that I've collected over the years for my speculative fiction. For example, imagine this scenario: As I walk into the school, and I think to myself what I just said - "Sheesh, it looks exactly the same!" - I knock my head, and when I come to, I'm back in high school.

Maybe I'm back in 1975, and I look the same and everyone looks the same, but I still have all my memories from up to 2013.

Or I'm back in 1975 and everything is the same, but everyone shrinks in horror because I suddenly aged 38 years.

Or the school is exactly the same as in 1975 - including posters, bulletin boards and such - but there is no one there, at first; then classmates begin to appear, but they are the one who have already passed away, and I'm afraid I'm a ghost, too, and fearful of being fated to wander the halls forever.

That's a little insight on how the mind of a speculative fiction writer works. I was just as imaginative and creative when I really WAS in high school, but now I have the writing chops to put that into print, plus I have the hard-won wisdom to put life's experiences into perspective.

Skidding back down to Earth in a shower of sparks, I am so impressed you read and like "Texas & Other Planets"! My next collection will be coming out early next year; its lead-off story is the first story that I've ever had nominated for a literary award. I will get you a copy.

One final note, regarding visiting the school: When we went into the media lab, where I was interviewed by the school paper, I commented - along the lines of how much the school looked the same as I recalled - that it used to be the language lab, and also still looked the same.

The media lab guy said, "Hey, I think you're right! You have a good memory."

The only thing missing was you at the head table giving me the Texas skunk eye when you could see my mind was wandering. But now you can take satisfaction in knowing I was just laying the groundwork for a fiction writing career.

Stephen King has said he doesn't have to come up with plots for his horror stories, he just remembers his nightmares. I have a good enough memory to remember my daydreams.

And turn them into fantasy and science fiction.

Oder, wie man sagt auf Deutsch, fantasie und zukunftroman.

Hah, see I WAS paying attention, after all!

All the best,

Lou Antonelli

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