Connections To The Curse Of Loss
Posted on December 14, 2020
One thing the holiday season isn’t short of is memories. My brain does this funny little thing of leaping and bounding from one topic to the next, all while somehow making connections that probably shouldn’t be there. I was thinking recently of some of the people no longer here who I greatly miss in this life. Oddly enough, they tend to revolve around writing. I then jumped to the time I wrote a post about how so many of the bookstores I did book signings at are no longer here. Bit of a Kris Curse, I fear. They’re gone. And the people who had an impact in my life that went back to being an author? Also gone. Weird connection, isn’t it?
I woke up this morning and read an article about a body found at Grand Valley State University, a place I attended for 5 years. GVSU shaped me into a writer, and gave me everything I needed to continue that journey after I left. I met a professor there during my second semester who would go on to become my instructor for several other classes, a mentor, a friend, and, ultimately, a fellow author. Dr. Milton Ford (or Milt as it took me so many years to become comfortable calling him) was easy to spot walking from building to building because of the trademark cap he wore, and he never minded for a moment if you happened to stop him for a question.
If you ever called him or stopped by his office, Milt greeted you with a “Hey!”, and he never forgot your name. The fiction I wrote during that time was fairly awful. The stories were a start, but nowhere near where they needed to go. Yet, Milt had a way of seeing beyond the handicaps, of digging deeper, and exploring what was really going on in the work, which often reflected things the author either wasn’t conscious of or didn’t want to admit. Milt and I stayed in touch until his passing in 2014, a year to the day after my father-in-law passed. One of the moments I will always hold dearest and close to my heart is a book signing we did together in Ann Arbor. There will never be another, but we had that one, and for that I am extraordinarily grateful. I can only hope Milt would be proud of my work since his passing.
This next person isn’t so much a leap because I’ve been writing a character after him for several years now. Do any of you readers remember an author out of Chicago named Dorien Grey? This man was a force to be reckoned with online! Dorien was a fellow author published by Zumaya, along with Alan Chin. Alan suggested I get in touch with Dorien, though I can’t remember why he suggested it. All I knew was that Dorien scared me, and I pictured him a cranky, old, mean curmudgeon. He was anything but, and the best thing in the world I did was e-mail him. That e-mail sparked a conversation between us that lasted until his passing in 2015, a month before my father passed. I was very saddened to find out that Dorien’s website is no more, including his lifetime of blog posts. (I believe, though, that he did publish an e-book of some of his blog posts.)
Dorien wrote a character named after my former pseudonym into one of his books along with a character named Ralph, after my husband. Kage, of course, was the shady rascal and Ralph the innocent beauty. I never had the chance to return the favor until after D’s passing. I named a character in Falling Awake 2: Revenant after Dorien, whose real name was Franklyn Roger Margason. For those of you who have read the book, you’ll immediately recognize the name of Frank Margason, who the character Andrew meets during his journey through the darkness. Frank shows up again in Falling Awake III: Requiem, and allow me to say I wouldn’t be surprised if that’s not the last we hear from him. Frank was supposed to be a cameo character who we meet, and who disappears along Andrew’s journey. He turned into something much, much more, and I can only imagine an e-mail from Dorien telling me I’d made him blush.
I did a book signing at Borders in Chicago (which is no longer there, another fatality of the Kris Curse), and Dorien attended. I was grateful someone who wrote so many novels of his own would attend that signing, but that supportiveness was a huge part of who Dorien was. Incidentally, whenever I’m in Chicago and able to head to the area, D used to work the front desk as you entered the Century Centre building. Chances are I saw him there at some point when I’d visit Ralph in Chicago and taken in a movie while the hubby was at work. And for those of you who read Falling Awake III: Requiem, take a guess where Alex and Daniel run into Frank?
Milt wrote a couple of books, and Dorien many, many books. If you happen to be a reader, are curious about who these people were, and what their talent was in the realm of writing, I urge you to help keep them alive by reading their work and telling others. Their books speak for them now, as do those whose lives they shared in.
Kristoffer Gair (who formerly wrote under the pseudonym Kage Alan) is the Detroit-based author of Honor Unbound, A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To My Sexual Orientation, Andy Stevenson Vs. The Lord Of The Loins, Gaylias: Operation Thunderspell, several short stories featured in anthologies (to be combined in a forthcoming book), the novella Falling Awake, its sequel, Falling Awake II: Revenant and Falling Awake III: Requiem.