West Nelson (aka Chindi to Zombos Closet readers) shares his thoughts on the passing of horror and science-fiction author Charles Grant. Thanks West.
We said good-bye to Charles Grant on Thursday. You can read his obituary here and here, but I'd like to talk about the first time I met him.
It was about 10 years ago and I'd been corresponding with his wife, Kathy Ptacek, for some time. She kindly invited me to a party they were having for his 100th book. It was a weekend long affair, but I couldn't make it on that Friday. I do recall that we were all watching an episode of the X-Files that Friday night. When I saw Charlie's name on a list of suspects that Mulder was reading, I called Kathy and Charlie to tell them. Of course they'd seen it and the celebratory noise in the background made me regret choosing work over fun.
That night I prepared a couple of pans of spicy sesame noodles with shrimp and scallops and in the morning, I loaded it all up in the car and drove to Newton, NJ. The minute I arrived, I was welcomed with open arms. Not just by Kathy and Charlie, but by their community of friends as well. At some point, I mentioned to Charlie that his work had a Dickensian touch to it. The characters you got to caring about the most were the ones who were doomed, in particular the children. He rather enjoyed that. Later, when discussing his book, Jackals, I stated that it reminded me of the National Geographic film, Eternal Enemies: Lions And Hyenas. He fairly leaped into the air and said he got the idea for the book from that video. We riffed on the name the researchers (Derek and Beverly Joubert) gave the male of the pride. Ntchwaidumela which means "He who greets with fire". In fact, whenever we'd float past one another that night, we would bow to each other and say "Ntchwaidumela" in a most formal tone.
As for my spicy sesame noodles, they were a hit. Charlie made me promise to send the recipe which I gladly did. Come to think of it, he's the only person to whom I've ever given it.
When the blackout of 2003 occurred, I was in the midst of reading one of his Oxrun collections. Rather than wait for the lights to come on, I settled onto a couch and turned on a flashlight. I finished the book that night and when I went to sleep I had a nightmare I hadn't had in years. I emailed Charlie about it and told him that I'd decided to finally write it all down. He wrote back and told me that he'd like to see it when I finished it. Sadly, I let life get in the way and I never did finish it.
Years ago, Charlie put out a small print magazine called Haggis. It was a way for his fans to get a glimpse into what was going on behind the scenes of his work. There was also a great deal of fan participation. He organized a virtual wrestling federation. We had to come up with our own characters. Mine was Loup Garou, the werewolf. I described him as George "The Animal" Steele with serious dental issues. Loup was quite tame as long as he was leashed. In truth, I'd forgotten about it until Jet Li's Unleashed came out. Charlie was kind enough to email me to ask if I'd had anything to do with it.
People like Charlie Grant are never fully appreciated by most of us while they are here. I regret getting so caught up in my own life that I couldn't take a day to see him when he took ill. "There's always next weekend", I kept telling myself. If we are to learn anything from his passing, it should be that we must cherish our friends and family while they're here. Email and web communities are one thing, but they cannot replace real face to face encounters. It is small consolation that his funeral and the following reception were just the kind of gathering that he would have enjoyed.
We'll miss you, Charlie. Thanks for everything.
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