I, along with pretty much everyone who works in science fiction and fantasy, got the word yesterday that David Hartwell was in very serious condition and not expected to survive, and unfortunately so it proved. It’s not my place to give details, partly because I’ve only heard specifics second and third-hand, but mostly because that is for those closest to him to do or not as they see fit. I’m here for a different reason.
I only met David Hartwell once, at World Fantasy Convention 2003 and doubt we exchanged more than 20-30 words total then, but the reason I’m writing today is to say a long overdue (and in Mr. Hartwell’s case, sadly too late) thank you to both him and his wife and editing partner, Kathryn Cramer. The reason I spoke to David Hartwell that one time was because he was making sure he received a copy of my first collection, The Ogre’s Wife. I was on my way to give a reading at the time and had one copy with me. Not being a complete idiot, I gave that one to him. I should have thanked him then, since he and his wife and editing partner Kathryn Cramer had shown an interest in my early stories, taking two to reprint in their first two yearly editions of their Year’s Best Fantasy. In another incident where I wasn’t present, a (reliable) friend reported that, on a panel about newer and emerging writers, my name had come up as Ms. Cramer reportedly said something to the effect that, “If you haven’t read him yet, you should.” Such kindnesses were a huge boost to me at the time. Maybe writers shouldn’t need validation other than the work itself, but as human beings we savor it as much as anyone, and getting those two reprints at that point in my writing career was a big deal for me. So I should have said “thank you” to David Hartwell when I had the chance. It never occurred to me at the time that life and circumstances would dictate that I never spoke to him again.
So I’ll say it now, and especially to his widow Kathryn Cramer who is still with us and I hope will be for a long time: Thank you.