Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Remembering Michael Turner

Four years ago today, Mike passed away.  Without a doubt, one of the saddest days in my life.  I don't think I've ever cried as much as I did that night.  Mike was truly a unique spirit - a charismatic guy who you just couldn't help liking (even when he kicked your ass at every sport, game, contest imaginable).  We've all heard the expression about someone "lighting up the room" when they entered it.  Well, for Mike is wasn't quite that.  He didn't light up the room as much as he lit up those around him.  It wasn't a spotlight thing for Mike.  He simply brought out the best in people.

I've said it time and time again that the story of Malikai in Soulfire is in many ways Mike's story.  A special soul that serves a beacon for others - showing them the magic the world has to offer.  He did this all throughout his life, and I'm not just talking about his art.   Look at the lasting impact he had on friends, family, and fans.  Aspen is a family in itself, and a lot of that is because of Mike.  He brought us together, and though he's gone - our family remains.

I have so much to thank Mike for.  Some I was able to tell him, and some I wasn't.  His friendship meant the world to me, and there's no denying how much he helped my writing endeavors.  Mike, Frank, and Peter gave me a hell of an opportunity when they invited me to play in their worlds. 

But the biggest gift Mike ever gave actually came on that same sad night that he passed.  Four years ago today, he gave me a better sense of faith.  Faith that there is something more beyond what we know.  Faith that there is more to this story - more to this journey.  When he passed, I truly got the sense that he was going onward.  It wasn't an end.

So, on this day, cherish those around you.  Tell them what they mean to you.  Spend time with them.  Talk about what matters to you.  Live with love and meaning. 

And, create.  Dig into your mind and build something from your heart - draw a picture, write a poem, plant a tree, bake a cake, make a chair.  Anything that comes to mind.  

And tomorrow...repeat.  Because that's what Mike did. 


Wednesday, June 6, 2012

My Favorite Number of All Time


Today marks the passing of Ray Bradbury.  I never had the privilege of meeting him or corresponding with him, but the impact of his work, most specifically, Fahrenheit 451, cannot be overstated.  As readers (and writers), we all have those books that almost seem to define us - the ones we discover early on in our reading life that dig deep into our souls, turning a switch in our minds that allows us to see the world in new and exciting (and sometimes terrifying) ways.  For me, Fahrenheit 451 was one such book - a spark that launched my love for dystopian fiction. 

Desperation.  That's what the book was about for me.  The desperation to hold true to the thoughts and feelings one possesses, no matter how daft the rest of the world considers them to be.  Guy Montag is a lost soul, looking to find connections and life in those around him.  He is a fireman, a burner of books - a sane man living in an insane world.  His wife, Mildred, was merely another piece of furniture in his home, polluted by drugs and obsessed with the emptiness her entertainment walls provided.  Luckily for Montag, he found a kindred spirit in Clarisse.  Their time together was brief, but she showed him that he was not as alone as he often felt, and that this world belonged to him as well.

Bradbury created a world destined to crush the spirits of everyone in it, and yet Montag manages to overcome the challenges, follow his soul, and (if not win) at least survive.  That's what made the books so compelling for me.  We don't know if he will win.  We don't know what the future holds in store.  As he heads off toward the city in the closing pages, all we have to go on is the hope that he will succeed - hope that things will be different.  It's not the bright light at the end, signifying victory, but rather a single flame, waving in the breeze, struggling to remain lit.  We all hold our breath, hoping that it will grow into a raging fire of change - used to illuminate the words on the page instead of burning them.

Fahrenheit 451 is one of the foundational books that made me want to be a writer.  For that, and the pure joy of reading the stories he wrote, I cannot thank Ray Bradbury enough.

Thank you, Mr. Bradbury.  Your body may have left us and your soul is most likely elsewhere, but your spirit will stay with us forever.