Joe Haldeman is the multiple-award winning author of such classics as The Forever War and Forever Peace. His most recent books are Marsbound and Starbound. He and his wife Gay have been involved in fandom since the 1970’s.
I got into the genre by way of Lester del Rey. My father brought me home del Rey’s novel (as Philip St. John) Rocket Jockey, from the bookstore in the Washington airport. It was the first novel I’d ever had, and when I finished it I went back to the beginning and started over, and so read it several times over that Christmas vacation. I eventually learned that you only had to read a book once, but after Rocket Jockey and a few other Winston juveniles, I was hooked. I few months later, age nine, I discovered science fiction magazines, and was ruined for life.
Gay and I got into fandom via Alice, who saw me reading a science fiction magazine before class started (I think a government & politics class at U. of Md. summer school), and dragged us to a meeting of the Washington Science Fiction Association. Gay and I had actually attended a Worldcon, Discon I, a few years before, but enjoyed several days of it without discovering fandom.
“How I first started writing” is pretty complicated for anyone, but for me the short version is that I took a fiction writing course my last semester in college. I wrote two science fiction stories and sold them both, one to Galaxy and one to Amazing. My first novel also sold to the first place I sent it. First screenplay as well. So I’ve been kind of a golden boy in that regard.