From the post that follows, don’t imagine that I’m lonely for human companionship. Far from it. Lana is here. I’ve spoken with my son and should see him and his wife, Heidi, and new son (my beautiful grandson Silas) soon. I’ve been on the phone and visited with friends and family. I stay in touch with many on facebook. But today, I’m posting about a different kind of friend. Some might call them the imaginary kind, but if you’re a reader you’ll know it’s more than that.
Joe Lansdale is just off to my right as I type this. T. Chris Martindale, Robert McCammon, David Morrell are close by. Well, their books are; their characters are. I’ve never met these writers, but their books and characters like Hap and Leonard and John Rambo are long-term friends and companions. Shirley Jackson and Charlee Jacob are there. These two writers themselves are sadly gone, but the books remain my friends—although Charlee’s works are not exactly the kind one brings home to mother. Even H. P. Lovecraft is there, a curmudgeonly uncle if there ever was one.
To my left sits Robert E. Howard and the single largest collection of lit-friends. As I look at them now, I reach for a book or two to share a nod with Kull and Bran and Dark Agnes. But Edgar Rice Burroughs and his creations are calling from behind. John Carter, Tarzan, Jane, David Innes, Dejah Thoris, Carson Napier loom larger than life at my shoulders. And right next to them are Dray Prescot, Delia of Delphond, Elric, Druss the Legend, Raven, Croaker, Eric John Stark, and a hundred others—Brak, Kothar, Kyrik, Thongor, Aldair—you know I could go on.
I can go around the room and name them: Poul Anderson’s Flandry of Terra, the Witch World characters of Andre Norton, Hammer’s Slammers and the Dorsai, the Lost Regiment of William Forstchen, Paul Atreides and Captain Blood, Repairman Jack and all the magnificent characters of Thieves’ World. The Traveler and the Destroyer and the Survivalist. The Shadow and Spider. Dumarest of Terra, Doc Savage, and Blade (more than one by that name). Harry Potter and Hermione. The Sacketts and all their kin. Some aren’t even human—The Black Stallion, Flame, Desert Dog, Big Red, White Fang, Buck, Old Yeller, Kalak.
There are plenty works by writers I have met and can call friends: James Reasoner, Sidney Williams, O’Neil De Noux, James Sallis, David Lanoue, Candice Proctor, Rexanne Becnel, Shauna Roberts, and others I know well enough that it feels like we’ve met even if we haven’t—Paul Bishop, Richard Prosch, Bruce Boston, Danette Haworth, Charles Nuetzel, Seth Lindberg, David West, Chris LaTray.
And these days, there’s even some of my own literary children in the mix: Ruenn MacLang, Trenton Banning, Thal and Krieg and Bryle, and three little foxes named Emris, Lyder and Flis. It’s a pretty full house for the Holidays. I’m happy.