Confession: I FREAK OUT a little whenever I see someone from my checkered past suddenly dropping in on me unnounced—or rather announced—online. Suddenly “in my face” on my computer “in my living room” – whoa! OUT OF THE BLUE, seeking “only” to say a hardy HI-HO hello, and I’m immediately circumspect and wondering for what reason is this happening? Why and how come? AS MY FIRST IMPULSE (MY BAD) IS TO ASSUME THE WORST. Did I fail to pay a debt? Did I hurt someone’s feelings? Does she wants to know why I put her in my last book and slandered her—despite the fact it’s NOT her. Or is it someone desperate and seeking a loan? Relatives are good for this one. And on and on my fevered mind runs; yet another part of my brain is shouting, “Nah, man, this is cool! This is no Trojan Horse; this is a gift as when I heard from Owl Goingback, the only Native American I know who writes horror novels. So….Open that package. This is a gift. Someone who thinks enough of you to make first contact, and what are the chances it’s not good news?
Well in all instances of such contacts that I have indeed opened and read, they have all worked out wonderfully, and perhaps I have been lucky but those from my past who have either looked me up or stumbled upon me on Twitter or Myspace or Facebook have turned out to be great friends who merely wished to renew an acquaintance; folks who at some time shared moments with yours truly and it is complimentary that they wish to know how you are doing years later. Says something about you actually. Something good.
Most recently a wholly great reunion was made, one that has taken ten years and still Steve and I picked up as if it were yesterday –and in fact, we are throwing in with one another to collaborate on a novel. Oddly, it came about slowly and without a plan, and it was the last thing on either mind as we had chatted over months about all the trivia and news one expends time and energy on on Facebook. The idea to collaborate came about as an afterthought. But think about that. Two friends reunite online, one in Sweden, one in America, one a Brit, the other a Chicagoan, and whamo they are in business together.
Ten years ago I said yes to an online contest wherein the winner won the dubious honor of becoming a character in my next Instinct title. Steve Savile won the prize, knowing my stipulation—that I’d have to create his character free of any stipulations, and so I made him a London cop’s peg-legged snitch whose nickname was Dot’n’Carry for the noise he made coming and going with that wooden leg. Steve loved it; so much so that he read passages from the book to his students, despite the poking fun at him. He took it so well but I always warn people to “be careful or your might wind up in one of my novels”—so he wasn’t a complete innocent on arrival.
I also knew that Steve aspired to be a writer of thrillers, suspense, and horror as well, and when he showed up at DragonCon Atlanta one year maybe eight years ago and found me at my signing, we had a warm first face to face meeting. I was so impressed with Steve that I decided to revive Dot’n’Carry in City for Ransom and its two sequels a couple few years ago. I contacted Steve to warn him that the Dot man was back but set back in the 1800’s. He was again thrilled and a sport about it.
Now on the tenth year anniversary of Steve’s debut as a character in Blind Instinct, we have teamed up—due to conversations on Facebook—to do a collaboration on an idea we began kicking over online. How cool is that? Really?
Then I hear from Adam Pepper—another great young writer. We met at Love is Murder years ago—maybe five or six years. Again Adam simply wanted to give me a shout out and to say hello. It was great to reminisce about our meeting in Chicago as we shared an adventure there—getting lost on a snowy night in my own damn city; we had a wild ride that night, one that I still call Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride. I was told by Steve that he felt “honoured” to be working on a book with me, honored with a U. Then Adam boosts my ego by calling me “Royalty” with a capital R. They both have told me that despite what any publisher decides as in ending a series with my name on it, that they know from whom they have learned…who they read in order to master their own skills. You can’t buy that kind of thank you from readers who became writers in part inspired by you.
I have always said the same was true for me when reading John Lutz, Ed Gorman, William Bayer and certainly Dean R. Koontz, and a long, long list of other authors ranging from Martin Cruz Smith to Mark Twain and Charles Dickens. Two lessons or morals of the story here: Don’t fear old friends looking you up online unless you know them to be psycho, and secondly: learn all you can from the authors who came before you.
Happy Writing and Reading everyone,
"Dead On takes the reader's capacity for the imagination of horror to stomach turning depths, and then gives it more twists than a Georgia backroad that paves an Indian trail." - Nash Black