Johan M. Dahlgren
Twas a maelstrom of thunder and death, the day the dark princeling came into the world. The foul trumpets of Kaz'an heralded his arrival with blasts powerful enough to change the winds in the sky and the mindless thralls of the kingdom stood at attention all the way to the crimson horizon to hail their new master. The cries of the newborn echoed around the throne room and the denizens of the land roared in furious joy. The man child already knew where his destiny lay.
Or that's the way Johan would like it to have been on the day he was born. Instead it was a fine spring morning in 1973 in the pleasant town of Gothenburg in western Sweden.
He didn't have a clue what he wanted to be when he grew up.
And there was not a mindless thrall as far as the eye could see.
Johan and his parents moved into his grandparents' old house by the sea outside Gothenburg, and soon his two younger brothers arrived. Sadly, there were still no trumpets of Kaz'an.
At a young age Johan discovered the joy of books. When he started school at the age of seven, his mother told the teacher that the little boy had just finished Jules Vernes' Journey to the Center of the Earth. The teacher thought she was joking. She was not.
Ever since then he's been interested in science fiction and the fantastic. In school he was never happier than when it was time to write essays. He would churn out page after page of action stories instead of the usual "What I did during summer holiday" drivel the teacher had asked for.
Luckily, his teachers never seemed to mind.
Maybe they liked action stories.
When he was ten, he - like so many other young boys at that sensitive age - discovered the forbidden but darkly alluring pleasures of role playing games.
He and his friends would sit for days on on end, rolling their dice, moving their meticulously (but not very well) painted metal orcs and spin tales of dark and dangerous lands.
And the occasional drunken halfling who betrayed his companions to the city guard and had them all arrested.
Who made up all the tales of dark and dangerous lands?
Guess three times.
The friends kept playing their RPGs far longer than the other kids on the block. In fact, on certain nights, when the stars align and the moon shines red with blood, they still gather their worn dice and meet up for more adventures in the dark and dangerous lands. The only difference is the Mountain Dew has been replaced with micro brewed IPA and fine Scotch and they no longer have to wear fake beards to look like grizzled adventurers.
The drunken halfling still makes the occasional appearance, though.
After high school Johan did his military service in the Swedish Royal Marines. That was a bit of a heaven and hell experience for him.
On the one hand, it was great fun (he loves to blow stuff up, shoot big guns and ride in cool boats).
On the other hand, it was a real pain in the behind, because he discovered he is allergic to running mile after mile in full combat gear, crawling through icy mud and making hundreds of push ups. It makes him very tired and nauseous.
And he doesn't like to kill things.
Not even mosquitoes. Unless they've drawn first blood, in which case they will be dealt with swiftly and painlessly.
Still, he got a green beret for his troubles and learned how to blow up bridges. It's always good to have career options when you don't know what you want to be when you grow up.
After surviving the military he went to university to get a degree. Since he still didn't know what he wanted to be, he asked his parents for advice.
His mother suggested teaching (she was a teacher), since Johan likes to explain things to people and can't stop telling people useless bits of trivia they never asked for. By the way, did you know you can fly to Mars in 2-5 days with an acceleration of 1g? Amazing.
His father suggested studying computer science (he worked with computers), since Johan likes to play video games.
It was a close call, but the video games tipped the scales, and four years later he had his Masters degree in computing and went to work in the IT business, where he is still plodding along.
The trumpets of Kaz'an? Silent as the grave.
Johan still doesn't know what he wants to do when he grows up.
Maybe writing is his thing.
Making stuff up for a living sounds like a job for a responsible adult.