Monday, April 23, 2007

Patrice Duvic

I wish I were posting about anything else today. I wish some foolish bit of whimsy had brought me back here. Instead, it's grief once more, our intimate friend and nemesis.

I first began corresponding with Patrice Duvic some years ago when he bought several books of mine to be translated for publication in France. He was an editor who acquired for several publishers, and an author in his own right, though he hadn't done much writing of his own in a while. Patrice brought many horror writers to French audiences for the first time, including Graham Joyce, Bentley Little, and me. He had an unrivaled passion for the genre, and was surrounded with books at all times.

When, during our correspondence, Patrice learned I would be attending a convention in England, he suggested that I visit him in Paris and that he would arrange for a book signing for me there. I had agents there, and thought it a perfect opportunity to meet them as well as Patrice. He traveled to London to meet me, and we rode the Chunnel train back to Paris together, where he set me up in a small flat near the river that he used as an office and occasional sleeping quarters.

Patrice was a gracious host, but he was more than that. He was an instant friend. A kinder, gentler man I have never met. He had the casual irony and world weary wisdom of a man who has truly lived, and a kind of good-humored surrender to the ebb and flow of the world that I normally associate with clergy--though Patrice was hardly that. With his white hair, beard, and glasses, he looked more than a little like a professor, and I looked to him with the same respect I would any teacher with such experience.

My first night in Paris, alone in that flat after Patrice had gone, I suffered from terrible homesickness. But by day Patrice's company made me feel at home. We ate at outdoor cafes and he mocked my American culinary tastes, we sat together and talked as he smoked cigarette after cigarette.

The last time I saw him, at World Fantasy Convention in the fall of 2005, he looked unwell. We had dinner together, and I was so very happy to see him. He was simply one of those people you wished you could see all the time, whose company made you think and become inspired. He had just recovered from surgery related to cancer, which he reported as in remission. He had given up smoking. Too late, alas.

I've only just learned that Patrice died of cancer in February of this year. I wish I'd had more conversations with him. Many more. I'm so glad to have known him, and if you didn't, I'm sorry you will never have the chance.

"It is a one way ticket, my friend," he told me once, speaking of life, punctuating the words with the burning tip of his cigarette.

Patrice Duvic was 61 years old.
He is missed.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Bursts of Inspiration

Recently I traveled to Toronto for the World Horror Convention, making the road trip from Boston with my friends John McIlveen and Nate & Nicole Kenyon. You'd think after nine hours in the car, we'd want to kill each other. Chances are they were on the verge of beating me to death with my I-Pod or empty can's of John's MONSTER drink, but for my part, I had a wonderful time.

I spent much of the convention with friends I don't get to see often enough, because they don't live on the same continent (thoughtless and selfish, aren't they?). They know who they are, and how much I miss them, so I won't recap the whole weekend.

The point is this: whenever I attend such a gathering of writers, I come away inspired. I spend so much of my time at the computer, writing, and during those times it's just me and the keyboard. I've talked before about how solitary writing is. So when I get the chance to spend time with other writers, whether we're talking about our own books or someone else's, or about the business, or just about our lives, I always come back with a renewed energy and enthusiasm, ready to work.

To all of you who shared a moment or a drink or a rambling conversation in Toronto, I want to say thank you for the inspiration.


I returned from Toronto and immediately put that enthusiasm to work on a couple of different projects. Tim Lebbon and I had already been working on MIND THE GAP, the first of our HIDDEN CITIES novels for Bantam Spectra. Now we're chugging along, tearing through it, and having a fantastic time. The story has a momentum we're both enjoying, so that it feels like the story really belongs to Jazz, the main character, and we're just along for the ride.

I'm also writing my stories for the five-author anthology FIVE STROKES TO MIDNIGHT. (Hank, I swear, I'll be done soon.) Two quiet, sorrowful tales of ghosts and legends, and one nasty, ugly monster story, right in the middle.

There's a great deal of news on the way, but not a lot I can say at the moment. I'm going to do my best to start blogging more, and more briefly, with short updates. It's going to be an incredibly busy year with the release of my novel with Mike Mignola--BALTIMORE--and a variety of other projects, including a short story collection.

I'll be back soon to talk about a new teen horror project, SOULLESS, and the next book I'll be doing for Bantam.


READING: Joe Lansdale's LOST ECHOES (he's an American one writes like Joe)
LISTENING: Jonathan Coulton and Amy Winehouse (not together; that would just be weird)
WATCHING: The Shield, Entourage, Heroes, and all kinds of other stuff...and wishing Friday Night Lights would come back for a second season. Have I mentioned I watch too much TV?