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When a huge, bearded and long haired man in a leather motorcycle jacket stands speechless in front of you, grip[ping] your book with both massive hands as tears roll down his cheeks struggling to tell you how your books saved his life — that’s when you remember why you write and are grateful that God gave you the opportunity and talent.

Tracy Hickman is a prolific speculative fiction author and game designer, best known for his work on Dragonlance. He was born on November 26, 1955 in Salt Lake City, Utah, where he also grew up and met his high school sweetheart Laura Curtis. After high school, Hickman spent two years as a missionary for the The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints before returning home to marry Curtis in 1977. The couple are still together to this day and have four children.

Hickman is best known as a novelist for his collaborations with Margaret Weis, though he frequently works with his wife as well (and occasionally works alone). In fact, his career at TSR began due to the Dungeons and Dragons modules Rahasia and Pharaoh, which he co-wrote with Laura. These modules were originally published by their company Daystar West Media Productions in 1979. However, after accruing $30 000 in debt due to a poor business arrangement with an associate, the Hickmans found themselves in need of solid income to feed their children, and decided to try and sell their modules to the company that published Dungeons and Dragons at that time — TSR.

[TSR] said it would be easier to publish my adventures if I was part of the company. So, we made the move from Utah to Wisconsin. It was a terrifying experience. We had no money. My parents begged us not to venture into such foreign territory to pursue such a bizarre career. My father wrote that there was a secure job as a fry cook in Flagstaff (where my parents were living), and he pleaded with me to come take it.
    —Tracy Hickman

Despite trepidation, Hickman began working for TSR in 1982 and proposed the idea for Project Overlord, the campaign setting that would eventually become Dragonlance. TSR wanted Dragonlance to revolutionize the roleplaying industry with pre-generated characters and tie-in books, and hired fiction editor Margaret Weis in 1983 to help accomplish this goal in tandem with a contracted novelist. Eventually, Weis decided to skip the middleman and wrote the novelizations herself in collaboration with the setting's designer, Hickman.

Since then, Weis and Hickman have written more than 50 books together and have worked on various settings outside Dragonlance, such as the worlds of The Death Gate Cycle and the Sovereign Stone trilogy. In later years, Hickman began writing novels with his wife, and did the occasional book solo. Although he is primarily known for his early work in the fantasy genre, Hickman has worked outside that genre in newer years: he did more traditional science fiction with The Immortals and StarCraft: Speed of Darkness, and a superhero book for DC Comics, Wayne of Gotham.

Although he spent a relatively short time at TSR, having left the company in 1987, Hickman is to this day regarded as one of the most influential people in roleplaying game culture. In 2002, he and Weis were inducted into the Origins Hall of Fame.

As we begin to honor a generation of game designers who also made their mark as novelists, it’s important to note that it all started with two people -- Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman -- and one game line turned literary sensation: Dragonlance. Several of the other nominees on this ballot, as well as some already in the Hall of Fame, would not have had the opportunity to make their mark without the trailblazing work of Weis and Hickman.
    —Academy of Adventure Gaming Arts and Design

Nowadays, the Hickmans reside in South Jordan, Utah, where they give seminars on creative writing at Brigham Young University, the same school Hickman once attended. In 2010, they began offering these seminars online at their Scribe's Forge website. In their lessons, they emphasize story structure as fundamental to writing, saying that, without a solid foundation, the rest of the storytelling work is "just so much chrome."

For aspiring writers, Hickman has been known to recommend Stephen King's On Writing, calling it "the best on its subject available today."

Selected Bibliography
(Just his most notable works.)

Sources
  1. Hickman, Tracy. "My History: Tracy Hickman." Tracy Hickman : Official Site of the NYT Best-Selling Fantasy Novelist and Game Creator. N.p., 20 May 2010. Web. 21 Mar. 2013. Link.
  2. "List of Winners: 2002." Academy of Adventure Gaming Arts and Design. Retrieved 7 Mar. 2012 from archive. Link.
  3. Patrick. "Tracy Hickman Interview." Science Fiction and Fantasy World. N.p., 21 May 2006. Web. 21 Mar. 2013. Link.
  4. Weis, Margaret. "TSR Profiles." Dragon Magazine. Apr. 1987: 91. Publ. TSR, Inc.

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