Autograph Hound's Blah Blah Blog

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

John Steakley WorldCon 97 and ConDFW 2009

I stumbled across the book Vampire$ written John Steakley at Waldenbooks. This was long before the John Carpenter movie.  The book thrilled me and I handed out a few copies to friends. Later I discovered John Steakley wrote another book (years earlier) called Armor  that was just as fast past and entertaining and fun.
When I attended my very first WorldCon (LoneStar Con 2 in 1997) I was excited to see that John Steakley was going to attend. I brought my copy of Armor to get signed. It wasn’t a first edition but it was a copy I read and wanted to have him sign the book.
I showed up at the panel he was going to be sitting on and waited.  He didn’t have an autograph session scheduled for the convention so I was hoping to catch him either before or after the discussion.  He wasn’t there when the panel started.  John was 15 minutes late and as I later found out that was not too uncommon of an occurrence for him.
He was loud and funny and had a Hail Fellow Well met quality about him. He had his whiskey flask out and offered it to his fellow panelists. He would stop down a conversation but not really annoy anyone when he did it.  Or at least I didn’t mind.
After the panel was over, I and several others came up to him to talk or get autographs. He gathered us up and took us outside and we sat in a shade of a tree. He offered his flask and joked. He reminded me of Dudley Moore in Arthur.
He teased us with a possible sequel to Armor and talked about Hollywood and script writing.  He was willing to give us all the time he had.  After 45 minutes I did need to go and I was torn between leaving and staying.  I asked if he’s sign my book.  He liked my first name.  If you read the book, you’d know why.
Just as I was leaving he asked where I lived. I told him and he told me where he lived. He said to stop by anytime. He told me if the garage door was up, it was a good time. If it was down then don’t bother. I wish I took him up on that.
I talked about meeting him for months after the convention. I even found out I had an acquaintance that would go drinking with him.  Small world.
Many years later I attended ConDFW. That convention was on my radar for another author but only because I didn’t know that John was going to be there. John Steakley was the icing on the cake.
I sat in on this panel. Again John was late. I also noticed a slur to his speech.  He mentioned to the crowd he was recovering from a stroke or aneurism. I don’t really remember which.  He was still entertaining and he still teased a sequel. Afterward, he did have an autograph session scheduled so I stood in line for that. He was chatty and witty with everyone.
I got to the front and I mentioned I had met him back in San Antonio. He paused and looked me over very seriously and admitted he did not recognizing me.  He apologized for not remember me.  I told him, we only met briefly and I never expected him to remember me.  He then said he used to remember EVERYONE. Not just the faces but names too.  His handler most have been a friend as he said it was true.  I told him how much I realty enjoyed his books.  He thanked me and told me he was getting better every day. I left thinking maybe we will get that sequel.
Again, I talked about meeting for weeks afterward. Maybe I’m impressionable or maybe he just knew how to make an impression.
When I decided to write this I did not know that John Steakley had passed away.  It was a little over a year ago.  When I read the news I was just didn’t believe it.  I had to check and recheck.  I will miss him even though I didn’t know him.

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