In 1984 the World Fantasy Convention was held in Ottawa, in the month my first book, The Summer Tree, was to be published. There are at least half a dozen great stories from that weekend. I just told one of them again on Saturday because Peter Straub (who co-stars in the story as the Innocent Villain) was at our Charles Brown dinner.
But one story, for here and now, is this: Martin Springett had just become an acquaintance, on the way to being the good friend he’s been ever since. He’d done the splendid, distinctive cover painting for the upcoming Canadian edition of the book (the worldwide first edition) and I had just arranged with him to buy the original. With nothing but instinct guiding me, I pushed him hard to clear the time and budget to come up to WFC. He listened. I claim he owes me for life.
Long story short, his artwork was seen in the art show there by David Hartwell of Arbor House and David Fielder of Allen & Unwin, my other editors, and picked up by both the US and UK for my trilogy (and eventually many, many foreign language editions). The painting was also seen by a number of other editors, and Martin received commissions to do artwork for their books, too. Eventually, he segued towards illustrating children’s books, and writing his own … but WFC in Ottawa, that art show, was definitely the start.
So, flash forward to last weekend. Martin came by here to collect all three paintings to show them together for the first time at a WFC – the one here in Toronto. He told me yesterday, dropping them off again, that he’d never had such a response at an art show, as so many people came to find him and say how thrilled they were to see them hanging together after all these years (he sells them as posters on his website, incidentally).
I know for a fact that a number of my initial readers were drawn to pick up The Summer Tree because they loved the cover. Maybe I owe him for life. Maybe that’s the way good friends should end up feeling.
In any case, here’s a picture he just sent me: