Saturday, March 30, 2013

My friend Freddy, the Swedish stripper

First of all, Happy Easter.

Second, as most of you probably know, my most recent book to be released was Fortune's Hero, the first book in my science fiction romance series. Or futuristic romantic suspense, if you prefer.

On the dediction page, it says "To Wilfred Bereswill, for planting the seed."

Will and I first made one another's acquaintance some five or six years ago, on a group blog called the Good Girls Kill for Money Club.

One of my first few times to post, I told the story about how, one time when I'd been on my way home to Norway to visit family, I'd sat next to a Swedish stripper named Freddy, who offered to father my first child.

It's a long story.

At any rate, I posted and Wilfred immediately piped up with, "Oh, that was you...?"

How could we not become friends?

Fast forward a few years, and after the Good Girls Kill For Money Club folded, we ended up on the same group blog again. This time it was the Working Stiffs out of Pittsburgh. Will and I were the two non-natives: me from Nashville and he from St. Louis.

We met a few times over the years. He brought one of his daughters down to Nashville for an ice hockey game once, and we also ran into each other at Bouchercon in St. Louis a couple of years ago.

Will loved to write short fiction, and in February of 2010, he issued a Flash Fiction Smackdown to the Working Stiffs. Write a complete story in 200 words, beginning with the sentence "If you have to die, February is the best month for it." He told me later he'd made it 200 instead of 100 because he knew I would refuse if I only had 100 words to play with. I'd been telling him I can't write anything short, and he was bound and determined to prove me wrong.

It took time - a lot of time; more time than it should have - but I finally narrowed my entry down to 200 words... exactly. It was about a man named Quinn Conlan who sat in a prison on a moon on the outer edge of the galaxy, and everyone thought Will had written it, which struck us both as hilariously funny.

That 200 word flash fiction piece turned into the 4-book series in which Fortune's Hero is the first installment, so I got the last laugh: turns out I really can't write anything short.

Earlier today - Saturday - I came across information for an annual crime writers contest. A 200 word flash fiction piece - exactly! - written around a posted picture.

I copied the link and harried over to Will's Facebook page and posted it. In a hurry as usual, not paying attention to much. "Hey, Freddy! I think you should do this. Sounds like just your thing!"

It wasn't until this evening that I got a message from Will's sister, suggesting that maybe I'd want to take the post down, because Will passed away suddenly on Palm Sunday, and won't be entering any more contests.

So now I'm sitting here, not knowing what to say. I apologized, of course. Sent my condolences to the family and so forth. Awkwardly.

I'm a writer. I'm supposed to have words, always. But today there are none.

I'll miss you, Freddy. Thanks for everything. xoxo

8 comments:

Joyce Tremel said...

Oh no! I can't believe it! I just exchanged emails with him about a month ago.

This is so sad.

Annette said...

I'm in shock. Will touched a lot of lives. I hope he somehow knew how deeply. R.I.P. Freddy.

Paula Matter said...

Bente, I'm crying. I never knew the story of how you and Will met. I do remember, of course, the Flash story challenge on Working Stiffs.

How sad. RIP, Will.

Ramona said...

This is a very nice tribute, Jenna, and for a lovely person.

But what sad news. The world has dimmed a bit.

cali_ponds said...

Oh Bente,

I'm so very sorry to hear of Will's passing. He seemed like such a vibrant, fun loving guy who really cherished his family. I only knew him through his posts on the Working Stiffs, but after reading this I'm amazed at how much of what he shared has stayed with me. Maybe that's because he was the only guy among all you women on WS, or maybe it's because he was the same age as my own husband, who also happens to be an engineer. Whatever the reason, I can think of him and smile, and that's truly one of the best gifts someone can give us. And I guess what comes to mind especially poignantly now is how he spoke of losing his own father much too young to colon cancer and how he hoped to spare his daughters and wife that kind of painful loss by getting routinely screened. It's just incredibly sad he still left his family, friends and those he touched far too soon.

So think of Will and smile, sweetie. Hope you've beating the sinus bug, and have a wonderful time in Norway.

Faye

Tasha Alexander said...

What a lovely tribute. Will was such a great guy - I will miss him very, very much. :(

Sharon K. Mayhew said...

Some times there are no words. :( Will was a great guy. He will be missed.

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