I first met Don at WHC in Chicago in 2002. I had flown from the UK alone and made myself speak to as many people as possible despite my innate shyness. I met lots of great writers and publishers and had a wonderful time. What stands out for me though is meeting Don – as that brief meeting changed my writing life.
Until then the writing partnership of Maynard & Sims had only had some collections published, some novellas, and were better known as the editors of Enigmatic Tales and the sister titles and the Darkness Rising series from Wildside and Prime.
It was Sean Wallace of Prime Books who suggested I talk to Don about a proposed novel Len and I were writing. Sean was publishing Darkness Rising and some of our own books, and I was helping out on the Prime stand, and when I mentioned the novel-in-progress he immediately told me to try another publisher i.e. Leisure – a generous act I have always appreciated.
I found where Don was on a panel that day and hovered around after the event to ask if I could pitch to him. He checked the time, said he had been supposed to meet someone but as they weren’t there why don’t we both pull up a chair and talk. I was a mature man then (in years at least) and was used to presenting to large groups of people as well as individually in my day job. I was not a nervous speaker, but sitting there, pitch portfolio in hand, I was tongue-tied.
Don put me at my ease, listened very politely to my incoherent ramblings about planned novels, and after a few minutes said the words that changed everything – ‘Send me the first few chapters.’
I did. Waited. Chased politely months later. Was asked to send the whole book. Waited. Chased politely months later. Got the email that completely revolutionised my writing. Novel accepted. Shelter came out from Dorchester as a Leisure title in 2004 as a mass market paperback.
Since then Don has accepted and published ten novels, and a novella that comes out this month. We followed him to Samhain and are so glad we are with such a progressive publisher. His support and friendship has meant everything to us as writers – he has created our career as novelists. He challenges, praises, enters into interesting conversations, and has a pretty good taste in music. We’ve met up since Chicago, and he is always polite, friendly and inspiring. As an editor he is top-notch, and as a man he is the best.
He is The Don.