Yesterday the world lost a great man. I don’t just say the world of horror because, while it’s true, it’s not the whole truth. Jesus F. Gonzalez was, among other things, a fantastic writer and a great asset to the horror community, but he was also a husband and father and a friend.
I didn’t know him very well, sadly. But he left a mark on me. I want to take a few minutes to remember him and to honor that memory.
I met Jesus at an event called Horrible Saturday back in the summer of 2010. That event was the real and true start of my horror writing career. It was also the first time I met some of my idols: Brian Keene, Kelli Owen, and of course, Jesus himself.
I’d fallen in love with the B movie gorefest that was the Clickers novels and from there, I’d read and enjoyed Survivor, Fetish, Primitive, and later on, It Drinks Blood. Now I was going to meet the guy who wrote them in person. For the first time in my life, I was going to be in the presence of these people who had inspired and entertained me, who had been there (in literary form, anyway) to help get me through the tough parts of my life. I was understandably pretty nervous going into it. The nerves continued after I’d said my hellos, too. Would I say something stupid? Would I embarrass myself horribly? I am prone to those kinds of things, after all. I was a wound up ball of nerves. And then Jesus said something that made me laugh.
I don’t even think he was talking to me. He was probably talking to Brian or making an offhand comment, and for the life of me, I can’t remember what it was. What I do remember is laughing and feeling relieved and finally being able to relax a bit.
I chatted with Jesus about Lovecraft and King and some other random horror trivia and was struck by how kind and genuine he was, but also how almost shy he came across. He wasn’t the outgoing social butterfly badboy I’d been expecting. He was different. He was sincere. He was something else entirely, something that defies words. He was Jesus.
I spent the day at Horrible Saturday. I bought tons of books, chatted with some of the authors, and watched the hilarious mishmash that was the live collaborative story telling pictured below.
Jesus and I had a few interactions on Twitter. He granted me my very first interview. Me, some no-name nobody he’d met at a signing. That’s who he was. Kind, giving, willing to help out some unknown by putting his name on her lowly little blog. It meant worlds to me and I really hope he knew that. Just that small act of answering a few questions, something I’m sure he’d done dozens if not hundreds of times before, made me feel so much more confident, so much more capable.
I only saw Jesus one more time, at Horrorfind 13. From that came one of my all time favorite pictures. It’s been my facebook cover photo for years. It’s me with some of my all time favorite authors, a title JF Gonzalez has most definitely earned.
My current work in progress is my first attempt at pulp. It goes without saying that Jesus was an inspiration. No one could do the kind of cheesy (in the best possible way!), action filled, B movie nightmare pulp goodness JF Gonzalez could. He wrote the book, literally.
Last night, my fiance and I read some Clickers, both as a way to remember and honor Jesus, but also because I’m working on his horror education and JF Gonzalez is a necessary part of that education. Darling Fiance made it through the prologue, turned to me and said “Clicknado!”. I’d like to think Jesus would’ve appreciated that.