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Post Road Magazine #34

Woven Dreams—On Robert Lamont

Stefan Bolz

Stories are like dreams woven together from sources all but unknown. As a writer, I ponder this burning question: where does the material come from? Where is the well, the origin, the storage house we access when we put words on paper? Does it stem from the subconscious? From deeply buried memories and long forgotten encounters?

There is one such memory for me. It floats up once in a while in perfect clarity. Not that it explains anything. There’s no definite “aha” moment. Just an image that, when followed, leads to other images and more behind those ones. Together they create a tapestry of snapshots of a whole—a kaleidoscope of moments fueling the imagination.

 My ritual involved the following: one package of German “Prinzenrolle” cookies (those are the German version of Oreos but slightly bigger), one bottle of orange lemonade, my bed, my favorite serial dime novel. The time: any given Saturday morning.

I’d buy the serial the day before for one Deutschmark. Back then this was a quarter of my allowance. The remainder went to a weekly Kung Fu movie. It was the year 1978. I was twelve.

The name of the serial was “Professor Zamorra,” which was also the name of the hero. Professor Zamorra (I don’t believe he had a first name) was a parapsychologist. He lived in a castle in France somewhere. He and his assistant, Nicole,­ fought against evil together: demons, monsters, fallen angels, hordes from the underworld and other creatures of darkness. Nicole was of course stunningly beautiful, fluent in several languages, extremely capable, and the love of his life.

Professor Zamorra was a deeply moral man. He took daily lessons in the martial arts, philosophy, even cooking. It never occurred to me that he only had twenty-four hours in his day. He no doubt packed way more adventure into one day than regular people have in a year. He and Nicole traveled the world fighting for humanity. They had endless funds at their disposal, probably from some kind of inheritance or from the books he wrote in his spare time. Professor Zamorra even wore an ancient amulet, forged by no other than Merlin himself. Awesome!

I’d usually not get out of bed until I had read all sixty-six pages. The endings would leave me daydreaming, imagining which dangers they’d face and how they’d get out of the next set of impossible situations the following week.

The official author of the series was Robert Lamont. I was amazed by the fact that one person could write so many incredible serials week after week. He was my hero, and in my mind, equal to J.R.R. Tolkien, Astrid Lindgren, and Michael Ende. I never cared about Santa Claus; it didn’t bother me that he was fictional. But the day I found out that Robert Lamont wasn’t one author, but in fact twenty-five authors, was devastating.I forgot how it happened exactly. I must have read it somewhere. Bottom line: Robert Lamont was not the author of my most beloved series. He wasn’t even one of the authors. He was completely made up. An imaginary author writing about an imaginary character. No amulet could shield me from the disappointment I felt.

I was crushed. I stopped reading the serials eventually. They still exist today with over one thousand issues published. But this isn’t the end of the story. It’s barely the beginning. Those sixty-six two-columned pages per week fueled my imagination. They became part of the weavings of the internal world that allowed me some thirty-plus years later to become a writer. I can find bits and pieces of those stories in what I write today. It is a most rewarding exercise to trace some of the present day characters, scenery, or plot points in my writing to their origin in my childhood or teenage years. I can still taste the cookies, the orange lemonade; I know how my room looked, how the serial’s thin paper felt between my fingers.

Each written word is a memory, not only from real life but from other stories, and stories within them. A king, a hero, betrayal, love, and death. We weave those moments together differently each time. We dream with eyes open.



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