The post title's only slightly misleading. "Slightly" because this post is about my writing heritage, but more about my family than anything. This one's going to be a downer, folks, so stop reading here if you want to keep your mood peppy.
My grandfather died on January 12, precisely a week after I started the job I mention in my profile. He was 83 years old, and had suffered from lymphoma for months; it got so bad that all anyone could do was make him comfortable for the end. I've seen pictures from Christmas 2008 and all I remember thinking was "That's not Pop. Pop's not that skinny." I'll spare you any more details (mostly because I don't want to gross you out, but also because it's stuff I'm not comfortable sharing on the Internet).
Of all the people confident in my writing talent, and there are a good number, Pop's voice was the loudest. And no wonder.
Pop was a consummate storyteller; he told tales about his childhood in the Depression, about my mother and her brother and sister when they were kids, and even about worlds he made up wholesale in the furnace of his imagination. He told me my great grandmother -- his mother -- wrote plays that were performed on stage in Philadelphia, and he talked about the short stories he published before going off to World War II.
Pop told me once that he'd had the chance to write full-time. A magazine offered him a contract to write more of his short stories, and he would've taken it, except he had other responsibilities then, so he started working at Bethlehem Steel instead. As far as I know, he never tried to publish another story. By the time he retired in 1978, and had time, he was already deep into a list of family responsibilities that stretched as long as my arm. Pop never thought twice about taking care of his family, and for that I respect him.
He's the only one who ever read ROSEFIRE (the original version of SON OF MAGIC) front to back. My aunt (mom's sister) said that he was reading it every time she turned around. The "book" was just a printed draft that I'd signed and put in a 3-inch binder for him. He loved the story, and was absolutely floored when I said my first published novel would be dedicated to him. That's how humble he was.
I've said before that I write because I can't not. Well it's also because of Pop. I want to see my name in print so I can see his name there too. That's the best gift I can give the old man, even though he's passed on.
How about you, my loyal readers? Have you already planned your first dedication? Or have you not even thought about it yet?
P.S. http://www.matthewdelman.com is mostly up and running. I'm still trying to work out some design kinks, but everything's set otherwise.