Back when Aron and I first started writing, we were incredibly hard-pressed to find readers. We’re not NYT best-sellers by any stretch of the imagination these days, but we manage to sell books every day without making sad puppy eyes at friends and family. But back in the sad eyes days, one of our first readers and supporters was Dan. He was a friend of a friend, someone we met during our WoW days. We only met him in person once – during which he bought a massive black and red pimp hat that will haunt my dreams for the rest of my life. But when we released our first book, Dan was one of the first people to buy and review it. He bought every single book we released after that. When some yahoo snarled at Whisperworld for having lesbian main character, Dan promptly countered with his own review calling out the bigot. As soon as he heard Aron and I didn’t own a Kindle, he sent us his and it was love at first read. Dan was an often cranky and acerbic man, but he was a good guy who always the time and desire to help a pair of struggling authors.
In December, Dan wasn’t feeling well. He had a cough that just kept getting worse and went to the doctor, grumping that it was probably going to be pneumonia and he really didn’t have time for that shit.
It wasn’t pneumonia.
It was leukemia.
Yeah, cancer. Fucking cancer. And it was bad. Dan and his oncologists fought valiantly for a week or so, and then it was over. On January 5, Dan died.
I have regrets. Last year – or maybe it was back in 2015, I don’t quite remember – I posted on my various outlets that there was going to be a substantial delay in the Hangman’s Cross because the beta reader response was pretty negative. The book was just too dark and the characters too difficult to read, so I needed to do a lot of edits and rewrites. When I posted this on Facebook, Dan poked his head into the thread to say that he looooved dark books and would be interested to read the current version. I told him I’d consider it, then moved on to work on the Lily Quinn series. My vague plan was to give Hangman’s Cross another read when I finished Lily Quinn, clean up some errors and then send it to Dan before I went to work on the new version.
I never got that chance. Lily Quinn took too long and I’ve still got several other smaller projects to work on before I dive back into Hangman’s Cross. And because of that, I never got to give that book to a friend who is now gone.
I’m not angry with myself for this or anything. I still think the book needs fixing and I don’t think my plan was a bad one. It just… didn’t happen and I’ll always regret that.
We miss you, Dan. You and your pimp hat. You were one of our first and best supporters. You were always funny, foul-mouthed and sneakily, surprisingly generous. The world needs a million more like you.