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Writers – Correspondence – Magic

I have been thinking lately how fortunate I am. As a young writer, when e-mail wasn’t as prevalent as it now is, I was able to strike up mail correspondence with some amazing folks. Two of these are no longer with me, Karl Edward Wagner (who I also spent a lot of time on the phone with) and Hugh B. Cave, an author whose career spanned generations, and who never failed to amaze me with his honesty, integrity, work ethic and imagination.

Hugh wrote right up until his death a few years back, and though we never managed to meet in person, we wrote letters, talked on the phone, eventually traded e-mails, and he became part of my family – one of the inspirations behind my words. I did a special tribute issue to Hugh in my magazine “THE TOME” – mostly due to the things I learned about him when he assisted me with my tribute to another author, Manly Wade Wellman, whose work I’ve always admired. From Hugh I learned tenacity, the science of remaining prolific, and a lot of authentic background on voodoo, coffee plantations, and life.

Karl was a different breed – he loved to rant, had opinions that were not to be crossed unless you had a few hours to listen to why you were wrong, and was the first author to show me how differently a man can talk, act, and write. His prose was elegant, and his characters unforgettable. He also helped launch my own career when, against his own taboo against vampire tales, he took “A Candle Lit in Sunlight” for Year’s Best Horror XIX.

Now I live in a very different world. My own career has at least started to launch. My circle of acquaintances has expanded to include authors on many continents and from many generations, and sometimes I forget to sit back and just appreciate how miraculous and wonderful that really is. I have reams of cyber-correspondence with folks like Thomas Sullivan (The Phases of Harry Moon / Dust of Eden / Second Soul) and best-selling author Janet Berliner, who led me to my current agent. I have been fortunate enough to know Richard Chizmar from the very early days of his magazine Cemetery Dance to the present day publishing power house it has become in the genres (and to the film work he’s moved on to). I’ve studied in a writer’s group with John Rosenman and Richard Rowand, who taught me many, many things (not the least of which was to avoid comma faults). I’ve shared beer and stories with Michael Berryman (The original Hills have eyes) and chatted up Scotty and Chekhov from Star Trek. I’ve pitched TV show ideas to producers, had a film produced, shared food, drink, and odd experiences with authors, editors, publishers, screenwriters…and have the most wonderful woman in the world to share my life with (not to mention that she’s an award-winning editor).

Yesterday’s interview with Richard Steinberg sort of helped bring this all to the surface for me. He’s an amazing man – it was an amazing interview, through little fault of my own. He opened up in ways that many people either can’t or won’t, and he shared that moment with me. More writers, more magic. I look forward to years of it, and it certainly helps keep me young…

Maybe someday someone will feel that way about having known me, and it will all be worthwhile.

American Idol

Lightening things up a bit, last night’s idol was fun, in a sort of light way, though I don’t care for most of the music that was presented. I really think the show becomes more and more transparently about promoting the work of a few old stars than it is about the new kids involved…which is sort of sad.

Rod Stewart was funny. He had a lot of compliments for the idols, particularly those who at their age were doing and capable of doing things he claimed not to have been when their age. Maybe he was being modest – maybe honest. I don’t know that he helped many of them, but they all seemed to have fun in their sessions with him.

My assessment of the night is that they all performed well, for a change. Kellie could have been better…she seemed to get a sudden attack of nerves, but she wasn’t as bad as she thought she was, and I really think her overall charm will get her through this week.

Ace was surprisingly laid back and “suave” and his performance was one of the more entertaining of the night, which is a big switch from his arrogance and idiocy last week.

Paris was in her element, and was one of the top two or three performances.

Chris was Chris. His voice is amazing no matter what he does, and he sounded great. Even Simon had to give him credit for it (which probably bugged the crap out of Simon).

Elliott sounded very good. I don’t think Simon was right about the guy’s appeal. Elliott is cleaning up fairly well, and I found him entertaining and personable, the last two weeks having been a marked improvement for him.

Kathryn (Katherine?) was very good. Again, this was her element, and she needed to shine, which she did. I don’t’ think it was the transcendent performance Simon made it out to be, and I still don’t find her appealing in the way I do some of the others, but that’s just a matter of taste.

Taylor stole the show. Of all of them, Taylor and Ace were the only two to take the old standard and add their own flair, and in both cases it worked. It didn’t hurt Taylor, of course, that I love Sam Cooke…have most of his recorded works…etc. Rod was wrong about one thing – someone can sing Sam Cooke like Sam Cooke – his name was Gedeon, and we lost him a few shows back…

Overall it was sort of ho-hum for me. I don’t really get into the style of music in the same way I do some others, so it didn’t thrill me, but it didn’t bore me either. We’ll see.

I have to think it’s all based on popularity now. Kellie had the worst performance, so should be in the bottom three, but may not be. Elliott will be there, and Ace might be as well. Paris could be riding a safety wave of Mandisa crossover fans. The two have such similar taste and style that it would seem natural that those who loved Mandisa’s voice would support Paris with their own idol out of the competition. None of them sucked…so it’s a very hard call. I think Elliott will leave this week.

Enough for now…


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