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Dreams Can Come True: Meeting Alan Dean Foster

I’m in Arizona after a very exciting and busy series of conferences, including the very successful WordCamp Netherlands, WordCamp Phoenix, and PodCamp Arizona, visiting family living near one of my favorite authors in the world, Alan Dean Foster.

During WordCamp Phoenix and PodCampAZ, I shared with my audience that I was too excited to just be “this close” to the one man who completely changed my life when it came to writing, actually helping me become a professional writer. Robyn Seaton stepped up to my challenge and connected me with the master himself. This is just one more amazing reason why I love WordPress and WordCamps!

In the next few days, I hope to connect with Alan Dean Foster and tell him thank you and hug him. Hopefully, I’ll also get time to interview him.

Alan Dean Foster is on my top ten list of people I want to meet, hug, and thank for having such a profound impact on my life, changing my path and encouraging me to stay focused on my passion. Earlier this year, the first person on that list was met, LeVar Burton, giving me a chance to say thank you for changing the conversation about disabilities. The list includes Bill Cosby, Shirley Maclaine, Terry Pratchett, and Orson Scott Card. My husband met Card, saying thank you for me, but that’s not good enough. As you can tell from the abbreviated list, authors have played a very strong role in my life, but Alan Dean Foster was the mentor whose knees I sat at and whose words I drank like a sponge.

After arriving last night, we walked the streets of Prescott and stopped in the lovely galleries and shops along Whiskey Row. I bought a key chain and postcard from Prescott to take home and put in my office as a reminder that I was this close to Alan Dean Foster, knowing he’s probably walked these streets and shopped in these stores, or ate at the Hotel St Michael Bistro where we had the best and most beautiful meal, hoping that would just be enough. Waking early this morning to find an email from him, instigated by Robyn, wanting to meet me has me over the top with joy and all the fears that come with making your dreams come true.

When I stop shaking and can compute all of this, I will tell you more about how Alan Dean Foster’s writings rocked my brain from the inside out, teaching me about turning a phrase, storytelling, and understanding the mastery of dialog no school has ever taught, and how knowing his life was richer for traveling spurred my own travels and willingness to jump off the cliff and live on the road full-time for almost 16 years…it’s amazing how one person you’ve never met can influence your life so much. The more I think about the powerful effect his writings and lifestyle has had on mine, the more I’m overwhelmed with emotion and stunned that I may get to actually met him.

For now, I’d like to ask you two important questions. First, if you could ask Alan Dean Foster a question, what would you want to know?

Second, what is stopping you from living your dreams? I’m living mine, with the help of friends, so why aren’t you? What’s your dream and what is getting in your way?

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Copyright Lorelle VanFossen, member of the 9Rules Network, and author of Blogging Tips, What Bloggers Won't Tell You About Blogging.


  1. Posted November 19, 2009 at 9:36 am | Permalink

    I met ADF at a convention when I was *much* younger — maybe around 1979 or so — and interviewed him for a small zine I was running at the time.

    I remember him being a nice guy, very encouraging and engaging … and played a mean game of pinball.

    Thanks for the “memory refresh”!

  2. Posted November 19, 2009 at 11:24 am | Permalink

    I am so glad I was able to help. It’s not often that one gets a chance to help someone so much with just a little effort. I am totally honored and flabbergasted that you mentioned me here. It comes as a true shock to see my name in one of your posts. I never expected that, and it’s definitely not why I did this.

    I was thrilled to meet you this weekend, and I greatly admire all the passion you have for everything in life. Reading your blog here helped me understand the concepts of blogging and set up some WordPress blogs a few months ago. Hearing you speak reinforced that. (Now I just have to get up enough courage myself to put some content in them!)

    I felt that the least I could do in return was help you realize what was obviously a big dream. The Universe seemed to align, since I knew you were going to be near there and his website indicated he was back from some of his world travels. Once I got up a little courage, it wasn’t hard to write him an e-mail and talk about how fascinating you are. It’s much easier to do that for someone else than it is for yourself.

    To answer your questions:
    1. I would ask him about his powerlifting. What an interesting twist on his life. He just went to a competition in Las Vegas last month, and his website’s blog said he held the Arizona state record. I have a girlfriend in Florida who has been competing in RAW Powerlifting lately.

    2. My dream is to “escape from cubicle nation” as Pam Slim says and become an entrepreneur. I know I’m a good business writer because I do it a lot in my job now. I can’t help but cringe when I see bad writing and want to improve it. I really want to take people’s business ideas and present them in a way that really tells a powerful, convincing story. So what’s stopping me? Fear of ridicule and failure, perfectionism, comparing myself to others. It’s all in my own head. I see the great stuff that other people put out there, such as yourself (I’m amazed at how much you do), and I think how can I ever measure up? So I stay stuck.

    I know I need to reach out to others more, and I need to have more faith and belief in myself. This has shown me how powerful that can be.

    Thank you… and many hugs.


  3. Posted November 19, 2009 at 6:50 pm | Permalink

    Alan Dean Foster! I loved To The Vanishing Point and Glory Lane when I was a teenager. And his Star Wars adaptation, of course. Awesome.

  4. Posted November 19, 2009 at 10:22 pm | Permalink

    Is it OK to say I don’t know who Alan Dean Foster is? I had to look him up from Wikipedia 😦 Sad, I know. Anyway, I’m very happy for *you* Lorelle 🙂 This whole post inspired me to think of persons I’d like to meet, and why. Thanks for the inspiration.

  5. Andrew
    Posted November 21, 2009 at 12:42 am | Permalink

    I loved the series “Lost and Found” and would want to know if he will continue that series. The idea of a human as a zoo creature, and becoming the celebrity of the “universe” as he makes his way back home is just too fascinating to let go. I loved the dog, as well. What a great pair, and what an inspiring and creative series. I’d love to see more.

    As to what is stoping me, I wish I had your courage, Lorelle. I’d love to travel. I think it would help me learn more about the world and other people, but I just don’t have the time. And I have family to worry about. So I love reading Foster’s books as they take me on the road without leaving home.

  6. Posted November 21, 2009 at 12:49 am | Permalink

    @Andrew: I’ve spent years traveling through books. There are places I will never go that I can explore through a wide variety of books, on this planet and off. And don’t forget, your background is exotic to other people. Treat it like you are a tourist and you will see a whole new world of adventure open up to you. And I’m with you on wanting the “Lost and Found” series to continue. I loved that.

    @Antti Kokkonen: LOL! I didn’t know who Alan Dean Foster was when I read my first exposure to his work, the Flinx novels. I was in college and loved exchanging books with a friend totally into scifi books. I told her that while scifi movies were great, books were for “losers” and those geeks. We traded trash romance novels instead, and I thought I was expanding her literary culture. She found out that I loved “youth” books and collected some very old WWII and earlier books, and begged me to try the Flinx novels. I was so enchanted (and hoodwinked) that I headed right for Half Price Books to buy more of this incredible author, and found that he had written the books for my favorite movies! I bought ALL of them, movies and others, and have been hooked every since. I’m so glad I got to introduce my favorite author to you! Maybe you will read a few to find out what I find entrancing in his writing style and character development.

    @Colin: Too funny. I’ll remind him of the pinball.

    @Robyn Seaton: I can’t believe that all of this has motivated you to finally get your first blog post done. You are the best of the best and thank you for having more courage than I did. You are my inspiration. Thank you so much!!!

  7. Suan Sing
    Posted November 21, 2009 at 12:59 am | Permalink

    My first Alan Dean Foster book was “The Last Starfighter” and that was a favorite movie of mine. I can’t tell you how many times I watched it and read the book. I read it again earlier this year, just to relive the joy of a kid playing a game that lead to a whole new world of adventure! Makes my computer game play feel like there is hope for me, too. LOL.

    From there, I had to read everything, as you did. Wow! I thought I was one of the few!

    His books inspired me to go to some Cons, and there I met other scific and Foster fans. It’s wild how some hook onto a specific series and swear by them, and say they don’t like the rest. Some only go for the Star Wars and Star Trek books, while ignoring his original work. Others are so hooked into the Humanx world – like me – I expect there should be a Commonwealth/Humanx Con soon. Others are totally into his original stuff, hating the “movie rips” as I heard someone say. Me, I love it all.

    So what would I ask? I have so many questions but if I could pick like one, it would be where does he find his creative inspiration and imagination? I know some of it comes from nature and his travels, but a lot of of it is like totally insane thinking. What does a bug think like? What would a fish say if it could talk? I loved Carnivores, and all the creatures in the book as well as the lands they lived in – how does he think all this stuff up?

    I haven’t stopped to think about your last question as I just barrell through life, but you’re making me think, as usual. So I’d have to say that my parent’s culture (Japanese) stops me from doing the things I really want to do. I came from an old school family who brought their lifestyle when they immigrated. As second gen, I often feel trapped. Wow! I can’t believe I thought of that, but that just goes to show.

    Anyway, have a great time with one of my favs. I think this is so cool. Can’t wait for you to blog more about your meeting. I’ll be waiting on you.

    • Posted November 21, 2009 at 8:00 am | Permalink

      @Suan Sing: Wow! I’ve never been to a scifi convention. I would so love to go! What a dream.

      I like your question. I’ve often thought the same: Where does this all come from? Especially with the “Carnivores of Light and Darkness” series. The various habitats Ehomba traveled through on his question. I love the quote on Amazon that said he had “an unshakable belief that every question has an answer.” I felt so connected to that character through the series, I realized that I’d also been on a quest of my own. That’s writing talent and skill!

      Thanks for being a fellow fan and thanks for sharing so much!

  8. Posted November 26, 2009 at 2:46 pm | Permalink

    I used to love ADF as well, and still enjoy his books.

    However, the bloom came of the rose the first time I understood, as a young teen, that in one of his books Foster did not understand that in space a rocket doesn’t need to “push” against something. I’m sure it was a just one of those stupid mistakes that he wouldn’t have made if he was paying attention, but it was annoyingly not caught by an editor.

    Lately I picked up some ADF and, though enjoying the story, thought it was lacking in a couple of key ways:

    Alan Dean Foster is an amazing storyteller – there is no doubt. But he could benefit from MUCH better editing.

  9. Posted January 13, 2010 at 9:09 am | Permalink

    I’d like to ask Alan the connection between his book “Midworld” and the movie “Atavar.” There are just too many similarities for this book not to be credited in the movie: verdunt world, six-legged animals, mindlinks with animals, the world tree, sky devils and alien invaders set upon destroying everything to mine the world. The only differences were that the invaders were the giants and the natives were more monkey-like, the hero is a native who tries to help the invaders understand the world and then leads the rebellion and the use of the avatar.

  10. Yama
    Posted February 12, 2010 at 9:14 am | Permalink

    I used to love ADF as well, and still enjoy his books.

  11. Joshua
    Posted August 14, 2012 at 12:54 am | Permalink

    I would ask him where he gets all inspiration from to write. Obstacles somehow get into my way but I can’t say that I am not living up to my dream. I have always followed it despite the many challenges.

    Alan Dean Foster is a great writer.

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