Fans and Fantasy

 by Jane Tesh

I wandered into fandom in the mid-Eighties by way of a little known TV show called Shadow Chasers. Shadows Chasers had the misfortune to be opposite The Cosby Show when it was at its height of popularity. However, Shadow Chasers was exactly the show I’d been looking for. British actor Trevor Eve played Dr. Jonathan MacKensie, a professor of anthropology and a skeptic, and Dennis Dugan played Edgar “Benny” Benedek, a wildly enthusiastic tabloid reporter who believed in everything and roped Jonathan into investigating ghosts, vampires, werewolves, UFOs, you name it. I absolutely loved the dynamic—and Jonathan. The long hair and English accent didn’t hurt. When the show met its predictable demise, I started writing my own episodes to fill the void. In my search for tapes of the show—yes, tapes and Beta tapes, at that—I met a fellow shadow chaser who introduced me to the world of fandom.

Image Source Savvy Press
Now, I’d heard about Star Trek fandom, but I never dreamed there was a huge world out there full of fans of every conceivable movie and TV show, no matter how obscure, who, just like me, wrote their own episodes. But they took it a step further. They put their stories and artwork into booklets called fanzines and held huge conventions where they sold these zines to other fans. I was in.

I wrote fourteen Shadow Chaser stories, six Max Headroom, eight Real Ghostbusters, two Quantum Leaps, a Northern Exposure, a Q.E.D., and an X Files. Along the way, I met some great people, some odd people, and some people who had, let’s say, a tenuous grip on reality.

While writing shows with TV characters was fun and challenging, I was soon back with my own stories. It took many more years before I published my first book. I had “gone pro,” as the fan world put it, and never looked back. But I realized that my fan experiences would make a good background for a Grace Street mystery. I set Fatal Fantasy at the fictional ExtravaganzaCon, a weeklong celebration of all things fandom. PI David Randall and his psychic friend Camden are big science fiction and fantasy fans, so they are stoked that ExtravaganzaCon will be held in their town of Parkland, North Carolina. But then two people are murdered in the convention hotel. One of the victims is a skeptic and debunker of all things paranormal, Sean Snyder. The other is Iris Hudson, ill-mannered author of the popular Dark Star series. To find the killer, Randall has to deal with a lofty Faerie Queen, a disruptive Batman, and an artist whose horrific paintings may hold a clue.

Jane Tesh
I still correspond with my first Shadow Chasers friend and dedicated Fatal Fantasy to her. She always loved to fly and now has her own Cessna. Recently, she took me for a ride in her plane. Of course, we had to fly over my house, and then we sailed on over the Blue Ridge. We reminisced about our fandom days and agreed we’d come a long way since then. She has her airplane, and counting Fatal Fantasy, I have nineteen books in print. We’ve had the great good fortune to see our fantasies come true—none of them fatal!  

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Jane Tesh, a retired media specialist, is the author of two mystery series, the Grace Street Mysteries and the Madeline Maclin Mysteries, as well as five fantasy novels. She lives in Mt. Airy, NC, where she plays the piano and directs the orchestra for musicals at the Andy Griffith Playhouse.

Disclosure: This post contains links to an affiliate program, for which we receive a few cents if you make purchases. KRL also receives free copies of most of the books that it reviews, that are provided in exchange for an honest review of the book.


  1. Jane, I just rediscovered Shadow Chasers and your delightful fan fiction a few years ago. Every one of your stories was a gem, and my critical standards for fan fiction are high. Now I need to discover your pro fiction.


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