Eight days have passed since David Gemmell died at his home on the 28th July 2006. I’ve written and deleted hundreds of words in attempt to describe my loss, or to recount my meetings with David, or to try and give you a sense of the man I was lucky enough to be friends with.
I can’t do it, the words seem shallow or inadequate. I can’t express how much life David carried with him, how much presence he had in the same room, nor how much generosity he displayed to those he cared about. I keep trying.
Some fans have asked me which of his characters David was most like. All of them, none of them, he was unique. However, he was born to tell stories, whether one-on-one recounting some part of his life, or to people at a book signing or to the many thousands that read his books. So when Odysseus recounts his tales for the sailors in David’s Troy I am reminded of David himself. He could captivate an audience no matter how small or large with a few small words and hold their attention to the end. He brought you into his story, made you live it, feel it and breath it.
If you were lucky enough to spend any time in David’s company you will understand what I mean. His books were just one reflection of his great ability to tell stories. To talk about life and take you with him, no matter what the topic or subject or location.
David loved his fans, he never once took his skill, success or his fan base for granted. He wrote with honesty, passion, sincerity and integrity. I’ll remember him most for those four qualities. He was honest with himself and with those around him. He had a passion for life, his writing and those he loved. He was sincere, doing everything he did for the love of it and without cynicism. And his integrity was beyond doubt. He’ll be laughing at me now, no doubt, for painting him a hero when he spent his writing career describing the flaws that heroes have. Some might not think a parting word like this is a place to talk of flaws; but David has his share. But he knew what they were. He didn’t hide from his flaws, nor pretend to be better than he was. He shouldered it all, stood up regardless and continued with the honesty that those of us who loved him, loved in him.
You will be missed David Gemmell, your stories, your laughter, the life you brought to a room. You were a man to look up to, to share a fire, a tale, a life.
I will miss you David Gemmell.
Tony, August 5th 2006
David Gemmell was born in London, England, in the summer of 1948. Expelled from school at sixteen for organizing a gambling syndicate, he became a laborer by day, and at night his six-foot-four-inch, 230-pound frame allowed him to earn extra money as a bouncer working nightclubs in Soho. He has also worked as a freelance journalist with the London Daily Mail, Daily Mirror, and Daily Express.
His first novel, Legend, was published in 1984 and has remained in print ever since. He became a full-time writer in 1986.
On July 28th 2006 David Gemmell died, two weeks after undergoing heart surgery. He was 57 years old.