This is one of my favorite moments of my professional career. In part, of course, because I got to meet John Rhys-Davies, but also because I got to share it with my niece, Brianna. This picture was taken at my first fandom convention, and I’ll cherish this moment for the rest of my life. I was a completely unknown, self-published author with a book cobbled together as cheaply as possible, but luckily for me, I was too dumb to realize or care that many considered me a joke. Also, luckily, Marcus Wollack had given me a table directly across from the main stars, including John Rhys-Davies, Robert Englund, and Adam West.
All day, I watched Mr. Rhys-Davies’ line, waiting for a break in the crowd, and finally, in the afternoon, his line had dwindled to a handful, so I grabbed a copy of my book, quickly signed it to him, and rushed to his line. As much as anything, his acting as Gimli had inspired me to write my series, and I just wanted to give him a copy to express my gratitude. He graciously accepted the gift but refused to let me leave empty-handed, so he signed a promo-shot of Gimli and shook my hand.
A few minutes later, his girlfriend/manager (I’m not certain which or both) came by my table to thank me, and while we were talking, she noticed my “The Brotherhood of Dwarves” T-shirts. Immediately, she wanted to get him one, mostly as a lark, and I handed one over without hesitating. She offered to pay, but I refused. Again, I felt I owed him for the inspiration. She thanked me again and left. A few minutes later, she returned, telling me that he would not accept a free gift and demanded I return to his table. I tried to explain to him that I didn’t want anything in return, but he insisted and asked if I had a camera. Fortunately, my good friend Tilman Goins, who was in the booth beside mine, had brought his. Mr. Rhys-Davies posed for several pictures, mostly of him feigning to read my book and then motioned for Brianna and me to come around the table and pose with him.
An hour or so later, he personally came over to my booth to thank me again for the T-shirt. He also told me that he had flipped through the first few pages, skimming the text. “You’re one hell of a writer,” he said. “I’m given books like this all the time, and usually they’re complete rubbish, but you really can write.” For an unknown, self-published author with fragile confidence, it was a feeling of validation that I can’t describe. I don’t know if he was merely being nice or if the words were sincere, but I don’t really care. He made me feel like a real writer who deserved to be published, and that meant more to me than anything.
Those pictures of him reading sold many books for me at future shows, but the memory means more to me than any numbers of sales. He didn’t have to do any of that, but he took the time to be kind to a complete stranger. I hope one day to meet him again and express my thanks for that small act of kindness that has given me so much over the years.