One of Richard Dodd’s earliest memories is uttering random letters to his parents and then asking them what word he had just spelled. Invariably, the combination was always meaningless. On one occasion, however, he asked what B-O-O-K spelled. His surprise at being told that he had actually spelled something was only a little less than the surprise his parents felt. This probably had nothing to do with a life-long love of books. It is best not to read too much into the prescience of a five year old boy.
He was first exposed to science fiction at about the same time with the original airing of Star Trek the original series. To this day, the salt creature from the Man Trap still gives him the heebie-jeebies. After successfully completing kindergarten, his family moved to Kansas City, MO. It is possible that he caught the writing bug in second grade at Chouteau Elementary School. As a handwriting exercise, he wrote a story about a giant. Three keys things about the story that still resonant today are the fact that it covered two whole pages of penmanship paper, that the giant was a good giant who wanted to help a local village, and the enjoyment he experienced writing it.
Richard barely started his junior high education in Kansas City before his family moved to Topeka, KS. He attended Eisenhower Middle School. Once he finished eighth grade, his family moved one last time to Springfield, MO where he attended Kickapoo High School. The fever he caught from that bug in second grade manifested itself in a freshman algebra class. Mr. Springsteen was discussing some mathematical property and had the letters B-A-C-A writing on the chalkboard. He thought that it would make a good name for a planet. That evening, he asked his mother if he could use an old Underwood typewriter. With her approval, he plopped down in front of the stereo and began to clack out a really bad science fiction story. That bad science fiction story kept him busy until his junior year when he took a Literature of the Mysterious course. The class covered science fiction, fantasy, and mystery/thriller. It was there he first read The Hobbit and the Lord of the Rings. That enticed him to start work on his epic fantasy. He still works on it to this day. If only he could learn to stop starting over on it he might get somewhere with it. The final semester of high school included a creative writing course. It was one of the few times he actively engaged in classroom discussions. It also presented him with his first mentor, Mrs. Gilpin. She also presided over his six-hour study hall where she would critique his epic fantasy.
After spending sometime not finishing college, he endured a few years as an MP in the Army. Once out of the Army, more time was spent not finishing college. He persisted in his writing and even went as far as submitting a short story to Isaac Asimov’s Science Fiction Magazine. He received a typed rejection letter thanking him for his submission. Someone did hand write the words ‘Not Quite” on it that did give him a little hope that he was not a complete washout. Of course that would all depend on whether magazine editor can be snarky.
The years since have been filled with a plethora of jobs. Some demeaning and mind-numbing. Others not so much. He currently resides in a small apartment in Springfield. He works in Springfield at computer store servicing errant computers. Maybe one of these days he’ll revise that story about a friendly giant. It had promise.