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in a galaxy far away

He was ten years old when the first film was released, the perfect age for a science fiction epic of sorcery, swords, gunslingers, dogfights; a fairy tale in space. He left the cinema awed and breathless, begging his parents to watch the film one more time. The idea seemed frivolous to them. Knowing that he would have to wait years to see it on VHS, it took the boy two weeks of persuading his father to take him again. The second time was better and he was surprised at how much he had forgotten. Later that night, he spent hours writing down every detail that he could remember but there were still gaps. A third visit was out of the question if he expected his parents to take him. So, using pocket money and the cover of visiting his aunt, the boy saw the film once more on his own. It was the first time he had travelled into town by himself and he knew his parents would freak out if they discovered the deception. He didn't care, he was obsessed. He started writing for fun, forming histories for the characters and creating new adventures for them so he could continue to live in that world.

Three years later, the second film was released. He'd known about it for a long time and had filled several notebooks with imaginings of players and plot. In a dark cinema, he gripped the arm-rests as the opening crawl blazed into eager eyes. Excitement morphed into confusion, confusion replaced by shock. How could the villain be the father? The characters did nothing that he expected, his own myriad stories bearing little resemblance to the actual film. He stumbled out that time, disappointment washing away to leave an emptiness in his heart. That night, he dutifully wrote down all he could remember whilst wondering how he could have been so wrong. Now thirteen years old, he went to the cinema again on his own. There were some good parts, like the hero's training and the bounty hunter, but the plot twists still unnerved him. This is what the director had forged, he had to submit to that vision. He vowed to include this new direction into his fantasy of the galaxy, to fit his ideals into what was already presented. It was the least he could do to honour the world that the director had created.

Three years later, the third film was released. During this time, the boy's fiction had become more nuanced, his characterisation richer. Taking his cues from the first two films, complete backstories had been created for the main players and many of the peripheral characters. He had worked on several different versions of the story and was proud of them. Re-reading older versions, he was often embarrassed at the cliched ideas and flat characters written in the first flush of fandom. In a vague way, the boy knew his writing had improved. Waiting for the film to start, he sat with apprehension and anticipation in equal measure. The opening crawl roared across a packed auditorium, the final instalment had begun. Ninety minutes later, it was done. When the boy returned home, his bike was thrown into the garage and bedroom door slammed nearly off it's hinges. His journal was filled with the angry yearnings of lost innocence. Disillusion turned slowly to bitterness. The third film was not seen again, and he shut himself out of that galaxy for good.

Many years later, he recalled that day of frustration and rage with sympathy. Those years were a proving ground for his talent, those disappointments pushing his efforts further. His third book was selling well and he had been commissioned for a fourth. His love for that galaxy far away was the force that awakened his writing.

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