(Spoiler Warning: this post might be a bit of a downer, but I hope to keep it upbeat. You’ll understand.)
Around 9:41 p.m. last night (that would be Wednesday, August 20 2014 for you benighted souls without calendars) Amazon.com emailed me to let me know that my copy of Murder at Avedon Hill, by P.G. Holyfield, had shipped. Awesome.
Roughly one hundred minutes later at 11:20 p.m., the author, P.G. Holyfield, died. (Look, I did say this might be a bummer.)
I’d ordered the book soon after the word got out that P.G. had cancer, and not the serious kind of cancer. He had the deadly serious kind of cancer.
I did not know P.G. well, but I did know him, and since I’m close to people who were close to him and did know him very well, I’m claiming a close association via the transitive property.
Some of these friends were with P.G. early this week and put the word out: he was very sick; people should come and see him if they could and if they couldn’t travel, then they should send video, audio, or emails to him. Sooner the better.
They’d set up a gofundme.com site, theoretically for P.G.’s immediate palliative care, but the subtext was audible, the fund would soon be there to help reduce the impact on his family. P.G. was forty-five.
I knew P.G. largely through his Game of Thrones-focused Beyond the Wall podcast, which he hosted with people that I adore. His was the first GoT podcast that I had listened to, and it had existed before the show aired as P.G. and his colleagues where ramping up in anticipation: book readers ready for the televised adaptation. It’s a great podcast, by the way.
He really believed in podcasting as a community event, and he went out of his way to interact with the listeners. The live podcasting events from Balticon (which conveniently took place in the hiatus weekend between episode 8 and 9 of the Game of Thrones season) were well-attended blasts. Season Four of Beyond the Wall was recorded live using Google Hangouts with audience participation. P.G. was not afraid to try to broaden what it meant to podcast.
I knew that he had produced an audio version of his novel, Murder at Avedon Hill; I’d been meaning to listen to it. I’d listened to a reasonable amount of podcast-distributed novels over the years, from Scott Sigler, Mur Lafferty, J.C. Hutchins, and Tee Morris, so his book was on my list.
I figured I’d get around to listening to MaAH eventually, and I anticipated that I’d run into P.G. at podcasting-friendly Balticon and give him my review. I expected that I’d have time. Well, I didn’t.
When I got the request to reach out to P.G., I ordered his novel and sent an email to P.G. through our mutual friend Chooch (yes, Chooch) who was one of several people acting as a contact point.
What do you say when you hear someone’s dying of cancer? I avoided that topic entirely, and I mentioned that I’d ordered his book, I was going to read the [expletive] out of it, and I was planning on telling him what I liked and what I didn’t like about it. I’d like to think P.G. would have enjoyed telling me where I was wrong if I didn’t like it.
P.G. was a pretty honest guy. If he liked something, he liked it, and would tell you about it. If he didn’t like something, he’d really tell you about it.
It made listening to Beyond the Wall a great experience, because P.G. was justifiably hard on the show. Never outrageously, and always from a position of love, but he had a good compass when it came to criticism. I didn’t always agree with him, and I was happy to debate him on his forums, but I always respected his position as legit.
But I’m not here to talk about Beyond the Wall, I want to mention his book, Murder at Avedon Hill, that I’m now going to read the [expletive] out of.
To clarify, I’ve not read this book. So this isn’t a review. It’s me wanting to raise awareness about the novel, because I feel I should have read it long ago, and talked to P.G. about it. This is all I can do. Maybe I can convince someone who hasn’t heard of P.G. to give it a try. Then we can talk about the book one day.
There are some terrific testimonials, from P.G.’s peers. Let me quote some:
“P.G. Holyfield creates a realm rich in culture and lore, and then shatters its sweet innocence with a murder that begs to be solved. This is Name of the Rose set in Narnia, and a terrific ride for any fan of mysteries.”
– Tee Morris, author of the Billibub Baddings mysters (and co-author of Podcasting for Dummies, yo.)
“I’ve always thought a good whodunnit needed vampires, monks, and gods. P.G. Holyfield has created an engaging world that both fantasy and mystery fans will enjoy.”
– Mur Lafferty, author of Playing for Keeps (and host of the I Should be Writing podcast.)
and my favorite review:
“P.G. Holyfield is now firmly planted on my radar as a target that must be destroyed.”
– Scott Sigler, New York Times Bestselling Author of Contagious
I’m looking forward to reading it. And I’m looking forward to talking about it.
The podcasting community in my area is fairly tight and operates much like a family, despite being separated by great distances with some members. Thank you Internet.
I did not know P.G. very well, but he always did right by me. He’s a guy I’d have been happy to move a couch for. Heck, a refrigerator for.
It’s a shame he’s gone and he’ll be missed. Thankfully, his friends will have things to remember him by. His novel and anthology contributions, his podcasts, his videos. And a crapload of pictures of him at conventions.
Having a devilish good time.
The Internet doesn’t forget. Thank you, Internet.
(Special super thanks to Chooch and Viv, for being responsible for getting me to listen to the Beyond the Wall podcast, for telling me that if I was enjoying the podcast so much I should man up and tell P.G. in person at Balticon in 2011, and for being the point of contact for messages during this rough week. You guys rule.)
Images shamelessly stolen from people who had tagged P.G. on Facebook.
Special thanks to Bruce “the Doc Savage of Photography” Press for the photo of me with P.G., and to Nimlas.org for the B/W shot of the Beyond the Wall crew. The owners of those photos know where to find me.
I make no claims to any of the photos or artwork above.
© Patrick Sponaugle 2014 Some Rights Reserved