Today I’m mourning David Thompson in a way that would seem absurd for someone I only met once and exchanged several emails with. But that was David. He made an immediate, electric difference in your life and his absence has the same immediate power. It doesn’t help that he was only four years older than me.
But two memories stick out to me about David. The first time I met him was at Bouchercon in Indianapolis. He was with Jon Jordan at the Crimespree table and I was wandering around holding Spenser zonked out from a night without much sleep. I wasn’t really in much of a mood for fullblown chatting but he commented on Spenser’s Batman t-shirt and introduced himself to me. He already knew who I was. We then spent the next hour talking about physical books. We shared the same love for beautifully designed books and how a poor book design could turn us off of a book. He, as other have mentioned he was prone to do, then went on to recommend about twenty beautiful books that I might like based only on their design and covers. It was by far the highlight of that conference.
A few months after that, I posted a review of TOWER, published by him at Busted Flush, where I said I hadn’t much cared for the book. Some others in the community posted snide comments about it, but David emailed me to thank me for my thoughtful review of the book and that he welcomed a bad review from me anytime. And then he spent two more paragraphs recommended books I might like instead.
I’m devastated that I won’t ever get to talk to him again, but I’m most disappointed for all of the people who will never get that first chance to meet. I’m sad for all of the first-time authors yet to come who won’t be the beneficiary of his wisdom and enthusiasm and support. And I have the deepest sympathy for his wife.
My tribute to David Thompson is to love my wife greater every day, spread the word about books I love, champion the cause of beautiful physical books, and to buy books from independent booksellers whenever I can. We will never have another David Thompson, but somewhere in an independent bookstore is a young man or women with the potential to be a great champion of writers who needs the support and development only a great bookstore can provide.
Cheers, mate. My life is better because of you.