It’s been suggested by many throughout the centuries that entertainers and artists have four stages to their career. It is not lost on me that I’m now entering the third stage of mine (a realization some of my peers are coming too regarding their own careers, as well).
During the third stage of his career — when he was living more off his reputation and the past than any new written works, and the ravages of an adventurous life were beginning to take their toll on his physical body — Hunter S. Thompson would often invite younger writers to his house. He reportedly did this because their enthusiasm for a craft and a business which had not yet broken their hearts, and their gratitude toward him, often re-energized him and his muse, no matter how temporary.
Last Saturday, I was lucky enough to have authors John Goodrich and Adam Cesare join us here in my home recording studio so that Dave and I could interview them for upcoming episodes of my podcast, The Horror Show with Brian Keene. But the day turned into a mini-convention, with authors Scott Cole, Stephen Kozeniewski, and Mary SanGiovanni, filmmaker Mike Lombardo, super-fans Kevin and Kristen Foster, and Dave’s girlfriend “Phoebe” joining us, as well.
I won’t lie. After a few years of soul-searching, second-guessing, burning out, burning down, and wondering if anything I did actually fucking mattered, it was nice to have a home full of younger or newer writers and artists who seemed genuinely appreciative and grateful and full of good spirits and hope.
I found their presence — along with that of a few old friends — provided a little warmth against the snow that continues to fall outside. It’s nice to know that maybe some of it mattered, and maybe a few folks will remember you when you’re gone.
After recording, we all took a field trip to The York Emporium. While browsing, I found three signed copies of John Skipp and Craig Spector’s THE LIGHT AT THE END. I made sure Adam, Scott, and Mike each went home with one, and I felt a real sense of history as I handed those books to them — three generations of horror writers, one generation after the other, helping each other and all hoping for the same thing.
On Sunday, Mike Lombardo and I finished a year-long task of moving all of J.F. Gonzalez’s papers, books, and private effects. While going through boxes, J.F.’s wife, Cathy, found a bunch of hand-written letters from Robert Bloch to J.F., Mike Baker, and Mark Williams. None of those four are with us now, and my time is probably limited, but it pleased me that Mike understood the importance of those letters, and why they mattered, and the generational sense of history imbued in them.
Outside, it’s snowing again. I’m sitting here writing, and thinking — supposedly alone, and yet surrounded by others. Surrounded by a history I’ve somehow become a part of.