Graham Joyce was a friend of mine, and he was a friend of yours, too. Because he was so right when he said that readers are not strangers. I had a sense of that when Iain Banks died. I’d only met Banks once (as it happens, drunk at a bar with Graham), but when he died I felt terribly sad, as if I’d lost a friend. I’d been reading his books for decades, his writing is a huge inspiration, and so in a way I had.
Graham was right about that, as he was about most things. Wise old bugger. I guess we were writing friends. And by that I mean we got together at conventions or other writing events, but rarely in between. But we always got on like a house on fire, and I have many fond memories of long conversations with him, about writing, Hollywood, family, and long walks in the country. I’ve seen other people talking about how he talked with you, not to you, and that was one of his great gifts. Charismatic, funny, eloquent, one of the finest writers, intelligent, he had a lot of gifts.
Here’s a quick memory, one of many. World Horror in the early 2000s — can’t even remember which one — we greeted each other in some hotel room party, “Hello, bastard!” “Hello, fucker!” Stunned silence. Those around us eyed each other warily, even when Graham and I sat down to chat over a bottle of piss-poor beer or wine. And for the rest of the convention, both of us were quizzed, “Do you not like him, then?” Of course, we played it up as much as we could.
I dropped him a line when we got home, saying how nice it had been to see him, and saying something along the lines of, “Hope we didn’t take the mutual abuse too far.”
To which his instant reply was, “Course not. Cunt.”
I can’t remember the first time I met him. And I can’t recall which was the first book of his I read. It’s like he’s always been there, and damn, he’s going to be missed.