Every so often, I'll let one of my author friends take over my blog. Today, Scottish author Willie Meikle steps forward.
My Dad has cancer. More than one kind in fact. He's fighting hard, but cancer is a devious bugger. It hides, it lurks, and it pounces when you think it's down and defeated.
Cancer is a monster.
I write about monsters, and have been doing so for a long span of years. Just recently I've started thinking more about why and taking a harder look at my motivations. A look back at several recent things I've done was revealing. THE INVASION features an alien invasion that comes in the form of an organism from space that eats anything in its path, transforming it into something different and unnatural. My short story THE COLOUR THAT CAME TO CHISWICK features a colour out of space that gets into beer and, when consumed, eats the drinker away from the inside out. A story sale to another anthology features gross body changes and loss of identity, and even my current work in progress, ostensibly just a little creature feature disaster story, features genetic modification leading to crawling chaos. I may not have been consciously aware of it, but it's obvious to me now that the Big C has been on my mind.
Cancer has been a presence in my life for as long as I can remember. I first came across it in the late Sixties. My Gran's brother came back to town to die with his family. I was fascinated by this man, so thin as to be almost skeletal, wound in clothes that were many sizes too large for his frame, his skin so thin that I could see his blood moving... not pumping, for it had long since stopped moving enough to keep him alive long. He rarely spoke, just sat by the fire as if trying to soak up heat, his eyes frequently wet from tears, not of sadness, but of pain. He lasted for months in that condition until it finally took him and I knew then that cancer was a monster.
Since then it has taken others, both friends and family, a young mother with two pre-teen children, a cousin who was like a big brother to me, and a girl I never got to know for she was taken before her twentieth birthday. Other family members are still fighting. There's my Dad, who meets it all with a good humour that is humbling, and my godmother who has battled bowel cancer into remission twice.
Cancer is a monster. I can't fight it for them. But as a writer there is something I can do.
Just yesterday the idea came to me. I'm not the only one who writes about monsters. Maybe together, there was something we could all do. The idea grew and grew in my head and wouldn't leave me alone. So I did something about it.
I've been discussing a possible cancer-themed anthology with Stephen James Price who has taken over Ghostwriter Publications. He's agreed in principle to a POD paperback and ebook release, all proceeds to cancer charities. Steve and I will be joint editors (and possibly contribute a collaborated story.) and I've already got a stellar line up of big genre names lined up to submit to it.
Provisional title is THE UNSPOKEN
Cancer is a monster.
I plan to fight it the best way I know how. Watch this space.
Johnny says: Very inspirational post, Willie. My father, Paul, passed of pancreatic cancer in July 2003, while I wrote the first draft of Obloeron: The Quest For The Chalice. Cancer touches all of us at one point or another in our lives. God bless the survivors.