Worlds Imagined: The Many Realities of Tom Deitz
Deitz Exhibit Text Blocks
Edit. 6/17/09; 6/24/09
Case 1: Hargrett/MS 2528/Georgia Writer’s Hall of Fame
Tom Deitz returned to the University of Georgia as an employee in the Spring of 1980, when he joined the staff of the Georgia Room in Special Collections as a Library Assistant II. Tom was on the staff during the UGA Bicentennial celebration in 1985, and his work as a graphic artist assisted the Georgia Room’s contribution to that commemoration.
Deitz was also known during his tenure for both polished pieces of art, and more whimsical, off-the-cuff visual expressions. Selections from that era found here include a cartoon encouraging participation in the UGA Library Staff Association’s annual dues program, which ran in the in-house publication Ad-Lib in the spring of 1981. There are also examples of holiday placards which Deitz would place in public service posts when he was on duty, and studies for a commissioned redesign of the stationery for the University of Georgia Archives in 1985 are also on display.
He would work in the Georgia Room until April of 1988, when he decided to take the plunge and support himself full-time with his writing. At the time, he had two books in print, Windmaster’s Bane (1986) and Fireshaper’s Doom (1987), and two more were nearing completion, Darkthunder’s Way, and The Gryphon King, which would both be published in 1989.
Before he went out into the wider world, Deitz entered into an agreement with University of Georgia Libraries’ Special Collections department, in which he would provide the edited manuscripts of his various works as the corpus of what would come to be known as the Thomas F. Deitz Collection (MS 2528). The first of those manuscripts deposited was Windmaster’s Bane (1986), Tom’s first published novel. Other manuscripts would follow: Fireshaper’s Doom (in 1988); Sunshaker’s War (in 1990). In 1991, a total of four manuscripts, representing three novels, would be added: Stolen Country/Gryphon King and Darkthunder’s Way (in February) and Soulsmith (a Tale of Becoming) in December of that year. The balance of the 1990s would see the collection grow by leaps and bounds, with Stoneskin’s Revenge and Dreambuilder added in 1992, Wordwright in 1993, and Above the Lower Sky in 1995. The most recent additions have been the manuscripts for Ghostcountry’s Wrath and Dreamseeker’s Road (in 1996) and The Demons in the Green and Landslayer’s Law in 1998. This collection of 15 manuscripts accounts for 14 of Deitz’s 20 published novels.
Case 2: SCA
In the fall of 1975, Tom Deitz would visit Helen, Georgia with a handful of Wesley Foundation friends, attending a Medieval-theme weekend where Tom and the Society for Creative Anachronism (SCA) would first cross paths. This chance encounter would lead the following spring and summer to Deitz and a small band of like-minded friends founding an SCA branch in Athens. This group, which would become known as Bryn Madoc, (Welsh for “Madoc’s hill”, or “Madoc’s mountain”), was a name chosen by Deitz and friend Margaret Dowdle because of the proximity of Athens to the rock wall found at Fort Mountain in the north-central Georgia mountains, a fortification linked in local lore with a purported visit by the Welsh Prince Madoc and his “moon-eyed” band about 1170. This fusion of home place and Celtic history and/or myth resonated strongly with Deitz, who would make the links between the mountains of north Georgia and the legends of the Celtic pantheon of the Tuatha de Danaan Sidhe central to his first works of contemporary fantasy. Deitz was so strongly attracted to this tie between Wales and his native mountains that his SCA persona would be named Dylan ab Aneirin y Breuddwydiwr (Dylan, Aneirin’s son, called the Dreamer).
The SCA would also afford Deitz a venue for the exploration of myriad interests in the history of Northern Europe, the art and architecture of the Migration Era early Middle Ages, and such medieval interests as the evolution of heraldry, and the ever-changing arena of garb particular to a given time and place.
It was in service to a charity auction held under the auspices of the SCA that one of Deitz’s earliest larger formal illustrations would emerge. This was Feast with the Head of Bran (1979), a moment from the Welsh myth cycle The Mabinogion in which the company of Welsh heroes, fresh from a defeat at the hands of the Irish, have returned to a feast hall which exists out of time, there to feast and revel for a thousand years, while outside the hall, time continues on. The scene depicted here is just prior to opening the door to the chamber, which will break the spell, and return the heroes to their normal time and space. In addition to the two Welsh heroes described in the myth text, the hall is peopled with Deitz and several of his SCA associates. The (at least somewhat idealized) self-portrait of Deitz is the standing figure at the left with the dagger. Other depicted friends include Bran’s head (Cathal mac Edan na Faelad); the long-haired seated figure at left (John of Ean Airgead, called the Mad Celt); the winner of the auction, seated right center, with upraised arm (Lionel Hildebrand); the hero facing the soon-to-open door (AEdward of Glastonburh, called the Saxon); and the harpist (Taliesynne Nychymwrh yr Anghyfanned Llanrhyddlad). A characteristic of this piece (and many others in the Deitz canon) is the inclusion of an additional layer of meaning, as all of the shields along the walls are tied either to the original myth or to the SCA personae represented in the scene.
The SCA would also provide a fertile venue for Deitz/Dylan to explore his skills in visual design and fabrication via the media of the construction of heraldic achievements (he would be one of the co-designers of the arms and fuller heraldic achievement of Bryn Madoc, a myriad of personal heraldic devices, and the design and construction of the tabard worn by the Baronial Herald, the Silver Sail Pursuivant. Deitz would also master the design and construction of numerous sets of clothing from various moments of time and space within the oeuvre of the SCA. Ultimately, these skills would be recognized by the Society with the highest award given for mastery in the medieval arts and sciences, the Order of the Laurel. Dylan was also acclaimed as the Principal of the Baronial service award, the Order of the Dreamstone, and was the second exemplar of grace and courtesy as Lord of the May in 1989. More whimsically, Dylan was Master of the Dance for the Order of the Displayed Moon, a somewhat tongue-in-cheek award for those moments where the imagined Current Middle Ages of the SCA intersected with the fine old time-honored Southern tradition of the moonlight skinny-dip.
Case 3: Worlds Imagined: The Many Realities of Tom Deitz - Thomas Franklin Deitz - January 17, 1952—April 27, 2009
Though Thomas Franklin Deitz was born in Murphy, North Carolina, he would spend his entire life claiming Young Harris, Georgia, as his home, and ascribing the birth certificate entry of Murphy as an “accident of hospital geography”. This peripatetic beginning would prove to set the model for his whole life, as Tom would be a restless spirit, constantly seeking home and safe harbor in any number of geographies, and moving through contending “realities” all of his days. He would claim to have trouble “shifting realities”, but still he insisted on a life replete with a myriad of locations in time and space.
Tom, born on January 17, 1952, was the son of Charlie Frank and Beulah N. Deitz, and brother to sisters Sarah Virginia and Wilda Lea. Family roots ran deep into the mountains of North Georgia and western North Carolina, as Deitzes lived in the greater Brasstown area of the border country for several generations prior to Tom’s birth, and the Nicholson clan of his mother’s line came from the Young Cane district of Union County, below Blairsville, Georgia. The Nicholson roots in the area run particularly deep: a forefather who was a Revolutionary War veteran rests still in a cemetery near Blairsville. Though he would repeatedly leave his beloved Southern Appalachians, they remained “home” for Deitz, who would not only return to them to live, but also choose as the deeply rooted setting for many of his works of fiction.
He grew up in Young Harris, where he attended both Towns County public schools and Young Harris College (YHC). His first published work, a front-page look at the “Farm of the Future” appeared in the local newspaper, the Town County Herald, on February 25, 1966. In later years, Deitz would return to community and college, to tread the boards as part of the extended college/town theatrical troupe. Upon his graduation from YHC with an A.A. degree and recognition in Who’s Who in Junior Colleges in 1971, Deitz headed south into the Georgia Piedmont to continue his education.
Deitz, the University of Georgia, and Athens:
Tom attended the University of Georgia, where he earned his B.A. in English in 1973, and his M.A. in English with a focus on Medieval and Mythic Literature in 1975. His thesis, The Use of Song and Poetry in The Lord of the Rings, would prove to be a window upon his later writing, though Deitz would contemporize the elements of the fantastic, setting them in a largely familiar time and place for the modern reader.
While an undergraduate and a graduate at UGA, Deitz would be part of several groups which would leave an indelible mark on his life. One of the first of these was his affiliation with the campus chapter of the Methodist Wesley Foundation. It was here that Deitz would meet kindred spirits that not only shared his interests in the creative performing arts, but also in the crafts of expression via the visual arts and writing.
Some of these same people were also responsible for the creation and nurture, in the early 1970s, of the University of Georgia Science Fiction Appreciation Society, the first such organization on the UGA campus. One of the creative outlets for this club was publication of the fanzine Aphelion during the years 1975-77. It was in this publication that Deitz would first find a larger audience for his work among science fiction and fantasy fandom, though it would be for his skills as a graphic artist that he would first be known.
The Science Fiction club would prove to be a particularly rich salon of talented artists, and post-meeting Wednesday night gatherings at a local pizza emporium would inevitably devolve into spirited discussions of the merits of a particular author and/or recently absorbed work. Punctuating these discussions would be the inevitable flourish of pens as volumes of art on available paper (usually napkins or placemats) would erupt spontaneously from myriad flourishing pens.
This community would also band together to explore regional Science Fiction conventions, which would, as the 70s advanced, insinuate themselves more and more into the mainstream of contemporary culture. This growth of regional fandom would reach a fever pitch in 1986 with the arrival of ConFederation the first World Science Fiction Convention (or WorldCon) to be held in Atlanta, Georgia. For Deitz, this arrival would be particularly auspicious, as it coincided with the birth of his professional career as a fantasy novelist.
Artistic Commissions 1978-1983:
As post-graduate life settled in around Deitz, he was seeking ways to remain in Athens, and at the same time give focus to an emerging period of artistic endeavor. There were occasional charity-oriented commissions associated with fundraising within the Society for Creative Anachronism (SCA) and the Science Fiction communities, and there was an additional long-term commission proposed by Gilbert and Margaret Dowdle Head, who sought to have Deitz render scenes from several favorite works of classic and emerging fantastic literature. As originally envisioned, the commission would include one scene each from J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings trilogy, plus The Hobbit and The Silmarillion. Likewise, there was to be one scene rendered from each of the seven Chronicles of Narnia, by C.S. Lewis, and one from each book in the first Deryni trilogy, authored in the early 1970s by Kathryn Kurtz. Finally, one plate from each of the four volumes of Evangeline Walton’s modern re-telling of the Welsh myth cycle, The Mabinogion.
Ultimately, the pieces for The Hobbit, The Silmarillion, The Lion, the Witch and The Wardrobe (from the Narnia cycle), High Deryni (Kurtz), and plates for Prince of Annwn and Island of the Mighty (Walton), would be completed, though in the case of the latter Walton piece, the original would go to Emil L. and Linda Decker as a result of their winning a bid in a charity auction. An incomplete plate for Tolkien’s Two Towers also survives.
This period marked a zenith in Deitz’s artistic output, though his last book, a reworking of his first book, Windmaster’s Bane, would be the only one of his published writings to feature his graphic artwork as well.
The piece Odin and the Fight with Fenrir , (1979), from The Younger (Prose) Edda of Snurri Sturlusson, was another piece won in an SCA charity auction, in this case, by friend James Pratt (who can be seen elsewhere as the Head of Bran).
Return to the Mountains:
In one last attempt at a more conventional life, Deitz returned to the mountains as the 1970s drew to a close, and took a job with a plant in Clifton, North Carolina, working with their landscaping department. It would be a short return, however, as early 1980 found Deitz once again in Athens.
Case 4: TFD: Gryphon King/UGA Never Was/Soulsmith/MS 2528/Art:
The Gryphon King(1989)
This book, the only stand-alone volume in Tom’s career, follows the protagonists of the David Sullivan series (Deitz’s signature 9-title series) down from the mountains of north Georgia, into the college town of Athens, there to continue their adventures at the thin spots where our world and faerie intersect. The narrative rests heavily in the familiar byways of Athens and the University of Georgia, though Deitz has created a few bits of geography unique to his version of UGA. Most memorable of these additions is Friedman Hall, perched atop the Old Athens Cemetery, and just across Jackson Street from the UGA Rare Book Library that is one of the chief locales for the intrigue and mystery central to the tale.
Because of this creative adaptation of the geography of the University of Georgia, The Gryphon King was one of two works cited in a recent Hargrett Rare Book and Manuscript Library exhibit: The Campus That Never Was.
The Soulsmith Trilogy:
In the Georgia backwoods is a mysterious manor, with an equally mysterious resident, the enigmatic Master of Cardalba. Whispered rumors of high magic and dark alliances surround both man and estate, and the locals maintain an uneasy truce with their mysterious benefactor. Protagonist Ron Dillon returns after a long absence to grapple with his destiny, and unresolved conflicts which threaten both his legacy and the fates of those nearby come to a head in the final book of the trilogy, Wordwright. This series explores at some length Deitz’s fascination with the creative process, and the “magic” contained therein, embodied most particularly in the mysterious Road Man, Deitz’s turn on the mythic Traveling Man. The exploration of magic in creative process will be more fully explored by Deitz in the Angen Chronicles series.
1. Soulsmith (1991)
2. Dreambuilder (1992)
3. Wordwright (1993)
Case 5: TFD: Thunderbird O’Connor/Book of Books (R.E.M.)/MS2528/Art:
The Tales of Thunderbird O’Connor:
Thunderbird O’Connor is both Cherokee dancer and diplomat in this abbreviated series by Deitz. In this world, the great high civilizations of Mesoamerica never fell, cetaceans are sentient, and shape-shifters abound. The capitol of the North America is the Mexican city of Aztlan, the year is 2024, and again the walls between the worlds are thin, as protagonist O’Connor discovers a dark design upon the future of the world of men. The geographical settings are wide-ranging, and the intrigue advances the pace in these works, perhaps Deitz’s most cinematic in presentation.
1. Above the Lower Sky (1994)
2. Demons on the Green (1996)
The Book of Books:
During the spring and summer of 1986, as Deitz prepared to welcome his first novel into print, a group of his friends (led by Gilbert and Margaret Dowdle Head) thought that an appropriate way to commemorate this landmark in his life would be to gather together a series of pictures of friends and family posing with the book. These would then be placed in an album and wind up under the Deitz Christmas tree that year.
This project pretty quickly took on a life if its own, fueled in no small measure by the coincidental appearance of the World Science Fiction Convention in Atlanta over Labor Day weekend. Soon, pictures of authors and artists joined the growing collection, and more would follow, as the book began to “travel”. Before the project was closed out, the initial faux edition of Windmaster’s Bane (since the project started ahead of the release of the book, the first hundred or so pictures were of a copy of John Irving’s Hotel New Hampshire, cleverly re-dressed with a color galley proof cover of Windmaster) was joined by copies of Gryphon King as Tom’s books visited the Louvre, Meteor Crater in Arizona, Windsor Castle, and Chartres Cathedral, in addition to winding up in the hands of assorted musicians, including The Beach Boys, and two of Tom’s favorite acts, The Byrds (via Roger McGuinn) and local heroes R.E.M.
Case 6: TFD: David Sullivan books/Art/Univac and Unicorn/MS 2528:
To read the Tales of David Sullivan is to experience the heart of Tom Deitz’s desire to weave together the worldly magic of his beloved southern Appalachian mountains and the other-worldly magic of the straight tracks and scarcely-glimpsed pathways of the Tuatha de Danaan Sidhe so dear to his heart.
Deitz himself noted that the hero of this nine-book series was not autobiographical; he always saw more of himself in Sullivan’s loyal best friend, Alec McLean. These two would be joined by companions in this world: love interest Liz Hughes, the Cherokee boy Calvin McIntosh, the steadfast but impulsive Aiken Daniels, and generations of the Sullivan clan, from David’s younger brother Billy to his father and his wise Uncle Dale, all caught up in Sullivan’s adventures between this world and that of Faerie. On that side, too, were key figures arrayed: the cold and cunning Ailill, Morrigan, the Huntress, young Fionchadd, Nuada of the Silver Arm, and ruling all in Tir-Nan-Og, the realm of the Sidhe, Llugh Samildinach.
With the walls between the worlds thin, and both worlds in jeopardy, it will fall to young Sullivan and his friends to help heal the breaches, thwart dark designs in both realities, and ensure that both spaces will endure, with righteous leaders in place in the high halls of both lands. All of this, and navigate the treacherous pathways of mundane adolescence meandering towards adulthood.
This was always the series closest to Deitz’s heart, and it shows in the writing, which is both intimate and sprawling. The worlds were in fact so dear that, when the opportunity presented itself in 2005 for Deitz to revisit the original first book in a 20 th anniversary edition, Deitz undertook to bring the protagonists into the 21 st century, contemporizing some of the cultural referents which had become somewhat dated in the intervening two decades.
The series showed enough initial commercial promise to prompt a British edition of the first two books, Windmaster’s Bane and Fireshaper’s Doom.
The Tales of David Sullivan:
1. Windmaster’s Bane (1986)
2. Fireshaper’s Doom (1987)
3. Darkthunder’s Way (1989)
4. Sunshaker’s War (1990)
5. Stoneskin’s Revenge (1991)
6. Ghostcountry’s Wrath (1995)
7. Dreamseeker’s Road (1995)
8. Landslayer’s Law (1997)
9. Warstalker’s Track (1998)
The reworked 20 th anniversary edition of Windmaster’s Bane also features the only juxtaposition of Tom Deitz images and words, as four interior plates from his hand illustrate the text.
10. Windmaster’s Bane (2006)
The Univac and the Unicorn, T.F. Deitz, 1980
This cover (both a simple original and later more elaborate replacement) and four plates by Tom were produced in collaboration with Atlanta author and playwright Thomas E. Fuller as illustrations for Fuller’s play The Univac and the Unicorn. The work was supposed to go into production with a small press in the Atlanta area, but negotiations collapsed at the last minute, and the work was never published, though the play was performed several times by small Atlanta-area companies.
Case 7: TFD: Tales of Eron/Art:
The Angen Chronicles:
In this tetralogy, Deitz again delves into the question of magic and creativity. For the first time, he grounds his tale in a world spun from whole cloth, with no roots to our time and space. This was a journey of fantasy which Deitz had hoped to take since reading Tolkien and the first of the Kathryn Kurtz Dernyi books in the early 1970s. Here, in Angen, Deitz engages in world-building from the ground up, and weaves a tale of the young goldsmith Avall, who must struggle not only with enemy dominions outside of his Kingdom of Eron and the contending realm of Ixti, but internal rivals such as the priesthood of the Ninth Face as well. At the core of the story, Avall is joined by his rival Eddyn, and the woman Strynn, who stands between the competitors in myriad issues of creation and craft. Avall’s twin sister Merryn and the blind harper Kylin will be caught up in the struggle to establish the High King in his rightful place, all within the span of a tumultuous and star-crossed year.
1. Bloodwinter (1998)
2. Springwar (2000)
3. Summerblood (2001)
4. Warautumn (2002)
What would turn out to be Tom Deitz’s last published work would be the thoughtful and analytical foreword he wrote for a reissue of Edgar Rice Borroughs’ The Eternal Savage: Nu of the Neocene, in 2003.
1. The Eternal Savage: Nu of the Neocene (2003)
Case 8: TFD: Toli/Ghostcountry’s Wrath/MS 2528:
Toli at the University of Georgia:
The southeastern Native American stickball game known as Kapucha Toli was brought to the University of Georgia in 1988 by a young graduate student in Anthropology, J. Gregory (Greg) Keyes. One of the earliest of Keyes’ recruits was Deitz, who was at that point in his writing career beginning to explore the possible connective tissues between the myth lore of Celtic Europe and that of the native inhabitants of the southern Appalachians. This interest grew out of Deitz’s early fascination with James Mooney’s Myths and Legends of the Cherokee. In Keyes, Deitz found a kindred spirit interested in exploring the storytelling possibilities presented by a cross-pollination of the diverse myth cycles. For Deitz, this exploration would lead to the specific inclusion of a toli game in the David Sullivan book, Ghostcountry’s Wrath, and more directly to a collaborative set of chapbooks authored by Deitz and Keyes in the early 1990s, The Revenge of the NaHallos.
Flying Rats: Team Name
So why is our team the Flying Rats? We derived our name from an old Creek myth about a Toli game between the "four-footed animals" and the birds. Below is the Creek myth, taken from "Native American Legends" compiled and edited by George E. Lankford (August House/Little Rock Publishers, 1987, ISBN# 0-87483-039-7). Most Southeastern groups, including the Choctaw, have similar stories about the bat and ball playing.
The birds challenged the four-footed animals to a great ball play. It was agreed that all creatures which had teeth should be on one side and all those which had feathers should go on the other side with the birds.
The day was fixed and all the arrangements made; the ground was prepared, the poles were erected, and the balls conjured by the medicine men.
When the animals came, all that had teeth went on one side and the birds on the other. At last the Flying Rat (Bat) came. He went with the animals having teeth, but they said: "No, you have wings, you must go with the birds."
He went to the birds and they said: "No, you have teeth, you must go with the animals." So they drove him away, saying: "You are so little you could do no good.”
He went to the animals and begged that they would permit him to play with them. They finally said, "You are too small to help us, but as you have teeth we will let you remain on our side."
The play began and it soon appeared that the birds were winning, as they could catch the ball in the air, where the four-footed animals could not reach it. The Crane was the best player. The animals were in despair, as none of them could fly. The little Bat now flew into the air and caught the ball as the Crane was flapping slowly along. Again and again the Bat caught the ball, and he won the game for the four-footed animals.
They agreed that though he was so small he should always be classed with the animals having teeth.
Tom Deitz began playing Toli very nearly as soon as the team at UGA was started by Greg Keyes. Tom grew up in Young Harris, Georgia and received his BA and MA at the University of Georgia in Athens. Tom is an award winning fantasy author who has published a number of novels, one of which, Ghostcountry's Wrath, contains a Toli scene in it, and his most recent book (sic), Landslayer's Law is being published by Avon Books.
Revenge of the NaHallos, Part V and Part XVIII, Tom Deitz, Greg Keyes, and Hyla Lacefield, Pettifog Press: Colbert, GA 1991-92
This multi-part series, authored by Tom and noted fantasy writer Greg Keyes, tells the extended tales of a sturdy band of the toli warriors whose home was the University of Georgia, as they battled both natural and supernatural foes across landscapes both familiar and profane.
Case 9: TFD: Teacher—Tri-County Community College/GSC:
In the late 1990s, Deitz would return to Young Harris to live. In addition to his writing, he would turn to a series of part-time and open-ended positions to help keep the revenue stream steady. He would serve as writing stringer for several North Georgia papers in Towns and Union Counties, and would serve as editor for a time (c. 2003) of the Union Sentinel, operating out of Blairsville, Georgia. At about the same time, Tom found work as a part-time teacher at Tri-County Community College, in his birthplace, Murphy, North Carolina. In the same time period, he also managed to find time to teach a class or two at Lanier Tech. He would work for several years as an English teacher at Tri-County, at one point balancing two class sessions there with two sessions in English he was teaching (by 2005) at Gainesville State College in Georgia.
It was at Gainesville State where Deitz would ultimately find an academic home, so much so that he would relocate from Young Harris to Oakwood, Georgia, adjacent to the college, in 2007. Gradually, he would add classes, and ultimately would find a place as Adjunct Professor in English in the Division of Humanities and Fine Arts. Also on Faculty at GSC was Tom’s old friend and writing colleague, Brad Strickland. Eventually, Tom would offer classes in English Composition, Literature, and Film, but his first love in the classroom would be as nurturing mentor for students unsure of their own capabilities as writers.
At the same time that Deitz was getting settled into a life in academia, he was also beginning to reap critical acclaim for his two decades worth of fantastic fiction. The newly released reworking of Windmaster’s Bane in 2006 attracted the attention of the Georgia Writers Association, as it garnered for Deitz both Georgia Author of the Year for Young Adults and Georgia Author of the Year for both Young Adults and Children in that same year. The following year the Southern Fandom Confederation presented Deitz with the Phoenix Award for 2007, citing him as a professional writer who had done great things during his career for Southern Science Fiction Fandom.
Deitz wasted no time in making a lasting impression at GSC, joining the Faculty Advisory Board for The Chestatee Review (the student literary journal) and his work in this connection would lead to the Spring, 2009 issue of the Review being dedicated in his honor. His work in the classroom also attracted acclaim, as he was named the Ann Matthews Purdy Award-winner for Outstanding Adjunct Faculty Member of 2008.
Late that same year, National Institute for Staff and Organizational Development (NISOD) recognized Deitz with one of its 2009 Excellence Awards. Presentation of this honor was scheduled for the 31 st International Conference on Teaching and Leadership Excellence in May of 2009. Unfortunately, on January 18, 2009, the day after his 57 th birthday, Tom suffered a major heart attack. Though he would fight valiantly to come back from this devastating blow, Tom quietly left behind this world, and its attendant realities, early on the morning of April 27, 2009, with his good friend Brad Strickland at his side.
Case 10: TFD: World Traveler: K. Kurtz in Ireland 1991:
Success with his writing meant that Deitz was able to begin to indulge a fondness for travel abroad, beginning with a trip to Ireland in 1991, when he and Forrest Marchinton were able to visit the author Kathryn Kurtz at her Irish castle/manor house, Holy Brook Hall.
Through a connection with another friend, the composer and writer Somtow Surcharitkul (also known as S.P. Somtow), Deitz was invited to be a guest to the premiere performance of one of Somtow’s original works in Bangkok in January of 1994.
The 1990s also saw the first of several trips by Deitz to Great Britain. Though he tended to stay in the greater London environs, he managed to visit a fair number of castles, museums, churches, and points of historic interest along the way, including Stonehenge, Windsor Castle, the Tower of London, and the British Museum. Theatre was also a big part of these tours, as Deitz not only visited the Globe Theatre (as a lifelong journeyman thespian), but also a healthy share of productions along London’s West End.
One of Deitz’s last trips was a 10-day excursion to Italy, which focused on Rome, in May of 2007. This was a trip rich in the art and history which had fascinated Deitz all of his life, but also punctuated with an irreverent spirit of whimsy which again defined who he was, irrespective of the reality in which he found himself in any given moment.
Case 11: TFD: Works in Progress/Text for Cloak/Tabard:
For Tom Deitz, the recurring themes in his life were travel and motion. Thus, his life remained a work in progress, and thus, it was only natural that the works of visual and verbal art which caught and kept his attention and talent would all too frequently be works in progress.
In his drawings, several pieces survive which show method in progress, and in a couple of instances, we are able to see radical re-thinking of large compositional schemes or reworking of a piece from ink-on-board to a color-infused composition. For an example of the former, compare the early study for Feast With the Head of Bran with the finished piece elsewhere in this exhibit; for the latter, two versions of Glaurung and Turin Before the Gates of Nargothrond are presented.
Deitz was in his visual art, first and foremost, a draftsman. This is evident in several of his works-in-progress, and it is equally obvious in the town map/schematic he executed for Bannock, his notional medieval coastal walled city with accompanying guardian castle modeled closely on the Welsh fortress at Harlech.
This case also features one of Deitz’s sketchbooks.
Case 12: “Writerly” Realities: TFD and the UGA Writer’s Circle:
Though born in Nebraska in 1945, Michael Bishop has shown in his work the keen impressions of a man whose life has been thoroughly lived in the South. Bishop took both a B.A. and M.A. in English at the University of Georgia in 1967-68, and the curious stamp of life in the South is found throughout his forays into fantasy fiction and poetry, perhaps most potently in the fantastic novel Who Made Stevie Crye (1984). His work has been voluminous over the past three decades, with 30+ books, seven collections of short fiction, and a considerable body of poetry, essays, and critical writing in his canon. Though Bishop’s time as a teacher in the UGA English Department overlapped with Tom Deitz’s tenure as a student in the same department, there is no indication that the two met. Deitz would be greatly impressed by Bishop’s first long-form book, A Funeral for the Eyes of Fire, and would later meet and befriend this seminal southern author of Science Fiction, Fantasy, and myriad other realities. The Hargrett Rare Book and Manuscript Library is pleased to have a substantial selection of the Michael Bishop literary papers as an important part of our manuscripts holdings focusing attention on the work of Southern Science Fiction and Fantasy authors (MS 2230). In fact, one of Tom Deitz’s proud duties while an employee at Hargrett was in assisting colleague Nelson Morgan in the preparation of the initial finding aid for the Bishop papers.
Celia Friedman came to the University of Georgia as a graduate student in Theatrical Costume Design in 1978. She would eventually receive her M.F.A. in 1981, and make her way to upstate New York and academe that same year. While at UGA, Friedman joined the inner circle of SCA folks in Bryn Madoc, and she and Deitz became friends. As fortune (and an enormous amount of hard work) would have it, Friedman’s first book, In Conquest Born, was published the same year as Deitz’s first novel, 1986. Though Friedman would write in both the Science Fiction and Fantasy genres, she and Deitz would stay in touch and follow each other’s careers. Today, Friedman lives and works in Winchester, Virginia.
Thomas E. Fuller:
Thomas E. Fuller, like Michael Bishop and Tom Deitz, found himself at the University of Georgia in the early 1970s. Unlike them, he had come to pursue a graduate degree in Playwriting, and he would ultimately receive his M.F.A. from UGA in 1974. He did not meet Deitz until 1976, when the latter Tom (Deitz) discovered the SCA. It was in that organization that the two men would become both friends and professional colleagues, and the fullest fruit of that collaboration would be Deitz’s illustration of a planned small-press edition of the Fuller play, the Univac and the Unicorn (1980). Fuller’s career was rich, from his myriad plays of the 1970s through his work as one of the founders of the Atlanta Radio Theatre Company (ARTC) in 1984. He remained their principal writer until his death in November of 2002.
Another of Fuller’s collaborators was Brad Strickland, yet another Georgia author who would publish his first novel in 1986. Together, Fuller and Strickland would write the Nebula Award finalist, The God at Midnight, but they would be best known for their collaborations on several titles in the Wishbone series of young adult books, and their development of the Pirate Hunter trilogy, again for young readers.
J. Gregory Keyes:
The Science Fiction and Fantasy author J. Gregory (Greg) Keyes first came to the University of Georgia as a graduate student in Anthropology from his native Mississippi in 1988. While at UGA completing an M.A. and a PhD in Anthropology, Keyes also created the first non-Native American Kapucha toli (stickball) team at the University. These were the Flying Rats, also known as the NaHallos, and among the first recruits to this enterprise was Tom Deitz. The two became friends, and when Keyes’ writing career took flight in 1996 with the publication of the Fantasy novel The Waterborn, yet another of those in Deitz’s UGA circle had launched a career as an author. The rise of Keyes’ career in the intervening dozen years has included a trip to the New York Times’ Bestseller List with his Blood Knight (2006); an example of his collaboration with Deitz in Revenge of the NaHallos, from the early 1990s, can be found elsewhere in the exhibit.
In addition to being a colleague of Tom Deitz on the English Faculty at Gainesville State College (close to his native New Holland, Georgia), Brad Strickland had over the past 20+ years become a close friend and writing contemporary of Deitz. Strickland also had roots at the University of Georgia, where he earned both an M.A. and PhD in English in the 1970s, and where he likewise taught in the early 1980s. His first novel, To Stand Before the Sun, appeared in 1986, and his ShadowShow (1988) remains one of the best Southern Gothic horror novels of the modern era. His close collaboration with Thomas E. Fuller included both titles in the Wishbone series and their final work together, the Pirate Hunter trilogy. Also like Fuller, Strickland has written for the Atlanta Radio Theatre Company, and he has included mystery writing in his large corpus of work. Due largely to Deitz’s influence when he worked at Special Collections, the Hargrett Rare Book and Manuscript Library has a substantial collection of Strickland’s literary papers (MS 2291).
Though she belongs to an earlier generation of writers, Sharon Webb (b. 1936) was among the early female hands writing a distinctly Southern-tinged style of science fiction tale. She became a friend and early mentor of sorts to Tom Deitz, and helped him navigate the early treacherous waters of acquiring an agent and steering through the swift currents of the business side of the writing profession. Among her myriad works are the Terra Tarkington medical science fiction books of the late 1970s and 1980s, and the Earth Song Trilogy of the early 1980s (including Ram Song, 1984). Her literary papers have been collected in several Hargrett Rare Book and Manuscript Library accessions (MS 2113; MS 2452; MS 2575)