In the bookselling and publishing world, there are endless opportunities to make new friends. After all, we're always going to conferences and trade shows, hanging out in bookstores, and we definitely like our cocktails, and we're never at a loss for something to say when we meet a fellow traveller. You just ask, "What are you reading?" and you're off and running.
But every so often, you run across someone in our world who, though they're new to you, has almost exactly the same worldview, the same kind of tastes in authors, maybe even a similar job history. It feels like this new person was running along a parallel track with you all along and you never knew it. And when you meet, there are no barriers, no initial awkwardness. You just click.
It was that way with David Thompson. I started out working in bookstores, spending a good deal of time with mysteries, and I eventually made my way to the publishing side. David seems to have spent his entire career making friends and wowing customers at Murder By The Book in Houston. He's beloved by bookstore customers, authors, and publishers.
When he saw too many great mysteries that weren't selling strongly enough to be supported by the big guys were going out of print, he started up his own indie publishing company, Busted Flush Press, so he could help rescue those OP books from his favorite writers, and help spread the word about deserving new authors, too. And so he ended up in publishing.
I don't think David ever took a publishing course, or bothered to learn how he was "supposed" to run a publishing company. From my perspective, he just went and did it. And he was a natural. I'm sure that his friends in Houston, and his wife McKenna, saw just how hard it was for him to juggle both jobs, but from my somewhat distanced point of view, he made it all look so easy.
We would exchange tweets and emails about upcoming books, share ideas for some bookstore promotions for his new releases, talk about our favorite authors. At trade shows and sales conferences, I started to look for David as a highlight of my time spent on the job. I eagerly awaited news of what each new Busted Flush Press season would bring.
The saddest part for all of us about losing a friend like David so soon is that we've all lost the chance to spend many more years with him. My particular sadness comes from knowing that we'd only just begun to be friends.