I've spent much of my free time the past several days visiting with my old friend Stephen Bly. Yes, Steve graduated to Glory a few years back, but he left much of himself behind – in the form of his writing.
A weekend ago, while investigating the book department in the new Goodwill thrift store in Monument, Colorado (they even serve fresh, free coffee) I stumbled upon all three volumes of his “Austin-Stoner Files” from the mid 1990s.
My collection was missing book two, The Final Chapter of Chance McCall, so I snapped it up. Back home, I put my feet up and began visiting once again with Steve.
Rodeo cowboy Brady Stoner is not Steve. The author and pastor from Winchester, Idaho, was much too good a writer to create a protagonist who completely mirrored himself. But Steve did put a lot of himself into Brady: his interests, his speech patterns, and especially his values. There's even a lot of Steve – primarily the values – in big city book editor Linda Dawn Austin.
I miss Steve. But I'm grateful that anytime I want, I can visit with him. After finishing The Final Chapter of Chance McCall, I jumped back to book one, The Lost Manuscript of Martin Taylor Harrison. With no big projects this weekend, I look forward to the time with my friend.
Having spent years in the business, I've been privileged to work with many authors, and become friends with some. Any time I want to refresh that friendship, all I need do is take a book from my shelf.