Tuesday, September 14, 2010

In Memoriam: David Thompson

by Dave White

David Thompson was one of the few people who could get me to fly.

Three years ago, when my debut was released he asked me to sign at Murder by the Book. I couldn't go, but he made sure he asked again when my second came out--sending about fifteen different dates I could show up. The message was clear, "Get your butt down here, we want to sell your book."

I had no choice, I agreed, despite my fear of flying. I actually got on a plane to Houston to be at that bookstore.

That's how David treated writers. He wanted them to come to his store and push their books. It didn't matter if you were Michael Connelly, Dennis Lehane, Laura Lippman, or any old midlist writer, he and his wife, McKenna, treated everyone like a superstar.

To them, every writer was special.

And they made sure their signings were legendary. They were fun question and answer sessions that went on for an hour or more, letting you learn as much about a writer as possible, and often immortalized on YouTube by Bill Crider.

David didn't stop there. He created Busted Flush Press, a small publisher who put out great novels and anthologies. He and Duane Swierczynski placed my first original story in a print anthology with DAMN NEAR DEAD.

He energy and enthusiasm toward books was contagious. He spent his time on Twitter pushing his favorite novels or most recent reads. He always let people know what books the store had imported from the UK. Murder by the Book is my go to independent store. They would ship to NJ without hesitation.

When I heard about his passing today, I went numb. I had just been talking about him in class that morning, telling my students my most embarrassing story--traveling to the signing. I nearly had a nervous breakdown on a plane and still made sure I signed there. Not many people can get me on an airplane.

And, I suspect that's how it was with David and all other authors. They would do anything to talk to him, do anything to sign at the store. His love of books was infectious. He was one of a kind.

I'm going to miss him.

5 comments:

Judy Bobalik said...

David will be missed by legions of people.
I'm still stunned.
Judy

Jeff Cohen said...

I can't really articulate why this has hit me so hard. David was just SUCH a nice guy, and loved writers SO much, that his leaving now, at such a ridiculously young age, is still unthinkable. I'm stunned.

Graham Powell said...

I think one reason all the people who knew him, even a little, are broken up is because he was only 38 but seemed at least ten years younger. Such a loss.

Scott Parker said...

On a purely personal level, I was looking forward to the day when I'd have a book published and I could have a signing at Murder by the Book with David standing next to me. That may be a selfish thought, but it's still one I have.

One of my favorite memories is in the week following Hurricane Ike in 2008. Don Winslow was to appear that Thursday and I called to find out if the signing was still on. Absolutely, David told me. When I got then, driving pass whole sections of the city without power, I was surprised to find out that the store also was without power. No problem. David and the crew opened the doors and lit candles while Winslow spoke. And they had a generator to power the register because after Winslow spoke and David enthused about about anything, you were just going to buy books. Great event.

Joelle Charbonneau said...

David was one of the first to welcome me into the mystery community and made sure that I would sign my first book at the store. The signing is a month away and I am terribly sad to know he won't be there.