Friday, March 22, 2013

Alexandra Duncan Takes the Truth

Long, long ago, in small town far, far away, I was an obsessive Star Wars nerd.*

I'm telling you this because Megan Shepherd dared one of us to talk about a time we wrote a fan letter to an author, and while I don't have any memory of writing to an author, I have a REALLY embarrassing story about writing a fan letter to George Lucas (creator of Star Wars) when I was twelve.

My Star Wars infatuation started sometime during sixth grade. My best friend was sleeping over at my house, so my mother sent us to the video store with $3 to pick out a movie to watch. We chose Return of the Jedi, completely unaware that it was the third movie of the Star Wars trilogy. We were OBSESSED. This was the greatest movie EVER. We had no idea why that guy was frozen in metal, but there was a GIRL trying to rescue him, and then there was a guy with psychokinetic powers, and there was an evil empire and a DEATH STAR. A Death Star, you guys!

We watched Return of the Jedi over and over again, possibly even on successive sleepover weekends, until my mom clued us in. "You know, there ARE other Star Wars movies."

This was an even greater revelation than discovering Return of the Jedi. We watched all the movies and spread the good news about the existence of Star Wars among our friends. Watching Star Wars during sleepovers became mandatory. By the beginning of seventh grade, we had formed a fan club called LECHY. (This stood for Leia, Ewoks, Chewy, Han, Yoda - all characters the founding members had adopted as their aliases for the purposes of anonymous note-writing.)

My 6th grade yearbook photo
Let me stop right here and explain that this is even worse than it sounds. NO ONE else in seventh grade was interested in Star Wars. This was in the mid-nineties, several years before anyone had even heard of the Star Wars prequels George Lucas went on to make. All self-respecting seventh-graders feigned disinterest in everything - except possibly Green Day - in an attempt to claw their way to a level of social acceptance that would allow them to avoid being peed on or having gum thrown in their hair during the long bus ride home. Liking Star Wars and creating a FAN CLUB surrounding said movie franchise? That was the absolute nadir of dorkiness.

By this point, I was so overwhelmed with Star Wars fever, that not only was I trying to develop telekinetic powers, making Ewok costumes for my stuffed bears, and growing my hair out to look like Princess Leia's,** I was inspired to write a letter to George Lucas. In pink, sparkly pen.

I don't have the letter anymore, for obvious reasons, but from what I remember, it went something like this,

Dear George Lucas,
Hi! My name is Alexa and my friends and I love Star Wars SO MUCH! We even made up a fan club that is called LECHY for Leia, Ewoks, Chewy, Han, Yoda! Let me gush on about the mechanics of our fan club and how much I love your movies for TWO ENTIRE PAGES!!!

The trouble was, I didn't have George Lucas's address. And while the Internet existed, we didn't have it at home and we were only supposed to use the computers at school for homework assignments. So, I found the address for 20th Century Fox on the back cover of my Return of the Jedi VHS tape, and sent it to George Lucas, c/o 20th Century Fox.

I know what you're thinking. There's no way that letter ever got anywhere near George Lucas. There's no way I ever got a response.

But you're wrong. Some kindhearted person passed it on to someone else at Lucasfilm, and then on to whichever department handles fan mail. Somewhere around five months after I sent my letter, I got a response from someone who was probably an administrative assistant at Lucasfilm, thanking me for my enthusiasm and gently informing me that I could send fan mail to them directly (address provided). She also slipped several Star Wars bookmarks in with her response, one of which was a hologram bookmark, the coolest thing ever for a nerdy kid when printed holograms were a new thing.

I know Star Wars is a money-making megalith, and we're not even going to talk about the prequels or the fact that HAN SHOOTS FIRST, but I'll never forget those bookmarks or that response, and how it made me feel like someone cared about me. Someone out there took the time to make sure my letter got through, and then someone else did me the small but immeasurable kindness of writing back. Sometimes little moments like that are enough to get a dorky kid with glasses and a bad haircut through the worst years of middle school.

I still have the bookmarks. I keep them in the top drawer of my writing desk.




* Actually, the last part of that statement is still true.
** A significant impediment to having Princess Leia hair: your mother cutting your bangs with toenail scissors.
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Alexandra Duncan is a writer and librarian (plus amateur photographer, crochet enthusiast, cinemaphile, and, or course, book fiend). She holds a B.A. in Creative Writing from the University of North Carolina at Asheville, and has been a frequent contributor to The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction. She loves anything that gets her hands dirty – pie-baking, leatherworking, gardening, drawing, and rolling sushi, to name a few.Her first novel, Salvage, is due to be released by Greenwillow Books/Harper Collins in Winter 2014. You can find her online at Twitter, Goodreads, and her personal blog.

8 comments:

  1. Loved your post! I was a huge Star Wars fan in 7th Grade. Being (a lot) older than you, I saw the first movie in the theaters (in 1977) when I was 11 and thought it was the best movie I'd ever seen. I went on to see it 11 times that summer, and my neighborhood friends and I started playing games where we were the characters (we called it "Sraw Rats," thinking no one would guess what we were up to!). Because of my long hair, I always got to be Princess Leia. That's so cool that someone from Lucasfilm wrote back to you!

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    1. SRAW RATS! That's hilarious and adorable. I was equally sure that no adults would guess what we were doing. I'm pretty sure we thought we were the first kids ever to discover how awesome Star Wars is.

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  2. Ha! I love it! I loved Star Wars too. I thought Luke was so dreamy. I don't know why I chose Luke when clearly I should've chosen Han, but whatever, I was kid, I didn't know any better. :)

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    1. Clearly, it should be Han. Although when I was 12, I didn't know if I wanted to BE him or make out with him. Adolescence is very confusing.

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  3. Damn right, Han shot first!!! Can I just say I love that your letter included the inner workings of the fan club? Man, Star Wars fans, unite! Loved this post, Alexa :)

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  4. Oh, Alexa, my brother would have been proud to have a little sister like you instead of one who still hasn't managed to watch any of the films in their entirety. Love this: "Let me stop right here and explain that this is even worse than it sounds."

    :)

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  5. Awesome post! I am a HUGE Star Wars fan. I actually had a life size Han Solo cardboard cut out in my bedroom when I was a teenager. (side note, my little brother mistook it for an intruder and called 911.) Those book marks are sweet, I would cherish them too!

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    1. Oh, man, I wanted one of those! What a great story.

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